Deep Water Floating Raft (DWFR)

Floating Raft Hydroponics, also known as Deep Flow Technique (DFT) or Deep Water Floating Raft (DWFR), is a hydroponic system where plants are grown on a floating platform that sits on top of a nutrient solution reservoir. This method is commonly used for cultivating leafy greens, such as lettuce, spinach, and herbs.

Here’s how the floating raft hydroponics system works:

  1. Setup: Plants are grown in net pots or foam cubes filled with an inert growing medium, such as rockwool or oasis cubes. These pots or cubes are placed on a floating raft made of polystyrene foam or other buoyant material. The raft is sized to fit the dimensions of the nutrient solution reservoir.
  2. Nutrient Solution Reservoir: The reservoir is filled with a nutrient solution, which is typically oxygenated using an air pump and air stone. The solution should be deep enough to partially submerge the roots of the plants when the raft is floating on it.
  3. Floating Raft: The floating raft, with the plants and growing medium, is placed on the surface of the nutrient solution. The raft allows the plant roots to dangle into the solution while keeping the foliage above the water level.
  4. Nutrient Uptake: The plant roots absorb water, oxygen, and nutrients directly from the solution. As the roots dangle into the nutrient-rich water, they absorb the necessary elements for growth and development.
  5. Continuous Recirculation: The nutrient solution is continuously recirculated in the system. It is usually pumped from the reservoir to a distribution system that evenly distributes the solution to the floating rafts. The excess solution is then collected and returned to the reservoir for reuse.
  6. Monitoring and Maintenance: Regular monitoring of pH levels, nutrient concentrations, and oxygenation is essential to maintain an optimal growing environment. pH adjustments and nutrient additions may be necessary to ensure the solution remains within the appropriate range for plant growth.

The floating raft hydroponics system offers several advantages. It provides a cost-effective and efficient way to grow a large number of plants in a limited space. The buoyant nature of the raft allows for easy plant spacing and makes harvesting and transplanting convenient. The continuous recirculation of the nutrient solution ensures efficient resource utilization.

However, it’s important to note that this system is most suitable for plants with shorter growth cycles, such as leafy greens, as they can handle the floating raft setup. Plants with longer growth cycles or heavier fruiting plants may require additional support or a different hydroponic system.

Floating raft hydroponics is popular in commercial hydroponic operations and is often used in large-scale production of leafy greens due to its simplicity, scalability, and high yield potential.