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Nervous

Bioponics:

32 posts in this topic

I haven't actually seen much on the site about bioponics so here goes fuck all. 

Bioponics (BP) is a blanket term for a number of organic, hydroponic based growing systems. For the purpose of this post, I'm sticking to the method I used on some maskotka tomatoes. 

In normal hydroponics (NH), nutrients are in an available form that the plant can use without any intermediates. In BP, as with any organic method of growing - nutrients have not undergone processes which make them immediately available. In soil organic growing, these unprocessed solutions enter the growing substrate and are met with a carefully curated force of bacteria and fungi which mercilessly break down substances into their available forms. So how do you replicate this stage in the process without a growing medium? 

A biofilter (BF). Which is actually a fairly poorly chosen name for what it is; it doesn't actually filter out anything as the name suggests. I have seen people trying to use synthetic materials like chopped up door mats to "filter" the solution due to this description. A more accurate description would be a "digestion substrate" but I'm not going to confuse anyone by slinging new words into the mix.

A BF is as simple as this: a natural substance which bacteria and fungi can form a home in through which the undigested nutrient solution is continually fed through and drained back into the reservoir. This performs the first and most obvious task of feeding the microbes the nutrient solution to be broken down but also aerates the solution (you're still going to need an air stone in your reservoir). 
This can be as simple as a 5L bucket with lid (don't go any smaller) with holes at the bottom and a med-low micron gauze bag lining the bucket (most mid range bubble bags can be recycled to perform this task) to prevent the substrate from falling through. For the substrate, you would be safest starting with PH adjusted (organic adjusted) coco which you can inoculate with trichoderma (G.O. do a fantastic little culture called BM that is perfect for coco).
Much like a sourdough starter, this filter will improve with time if you look after it. Initially, I was discouraged by nutrient deficiencies galore because I hadn't given it enough time to digest nutrients prior to the tomatoes first feed. Equally, if you set this going too early, you will find you will have to change your water more often than you like. However, if you take care of your filter by replacing the water before it goes bad, you won't have to change out your filter (although it's not the end of the world if you do - just a little lost time). 

At this point I'll mention: 
- the pump feeding into the BF absolutely has to be on 24/7, passing the solution through once will not break it down completely, it has to go through as much as possible. Also, try smelling your BF when it's gone dry... 
- place your BF directly over your reservoir and let it drain in slowly - too quick and you will flush the substrate
- aeration will determine how long you can keep your nutrient water for (and whether it works full stop - I use a small wave emitter too) 
- make sure the entire substrate in the BF is getting soaked
- when drilling holes in the BF bucket lid for the input - make sure there isn't light getting in
- DON'T POUR THE UNDIGESTED SOLUTION DIRECTLY INTO THE RESERVOIR FIRST. Pour (slowly) through the filter to begin with, as it will catch the chunkiest parts of the nutrient solution to save the life of your pump

In terms of nutrients, there isn't much around formulated for BP and you will often see people wailing about how it goes off quickly, or is full of chunks or how they have to use double doses. It's organic, so naturally it will go off quicker than synthetics. It's full of chunks? FUCKING GOOD. LOVE THEM CHUNKY BITS. They get trapped in the BF until they are broken down which is more efficient than being cycled through 1000 times. Finally, if you find you're having to use double doses, there's something wrong with your BF as it's not breaking things down efficiently. Don't be frightened by bad reviews. 
Personally, I favour the G.O. bio thrive line, and the rest of their Terra Aquatica supplements. They are specifically formulated for use with BFs. I have had little success with other brands. G.O.'s line tend to stay stable for longer (don't start smelling like the fetid love slot of a yeti on day three) and work well with the culture I mentioned before. 

Now, I've spent a year or two perfecting the process and have found that the smallest changes in the inputs or the system itself will require re-tuning to work/be efficient. I've started using larger BFs, hollowing out pond filters instead of using buckets, different substrates etc with more success but it's taken many instances of saying "fuck KISS to death", many of which have ended in tears. Do not try this if you're not willing to experiment. 

Other than all the above, the process is pretty much the same as normal hydro and you can apply it to DWC, drippers (use an inline dripper filter) etc. I'd love to hear of any attempts made and will pass on more empirical knowledge to any intrepid bio-poneers. 

NERVOUS :unsure:   
 
 
 

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can you not just chuck some fish and fish food in there lol  

 

sounds fun if you have the space and time to muck about though

 

would you not get the same results easer with double or triple filtered compost tea’s ? (just thinking outside the box) 

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Fantastic write up mate. I'm sure this will tickle someone's fancy.

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1 hour ago, twigs said:

can you not just chuck some fish and fish food in there lol  

 

sounds fun if you have the space and time to muck about though

 

would you not get the same results easer with double or triple filtered compost tea’s ? (just thinking outside the box) 

 

I do love a good tea, but I've never been able to make the ones I use stable! 24 hours or less and they go off :(

 

It's about the growth rate for me, its comparable to how much quicker synthetic hydro is to soil 

1 hour ago, blackpoolbouncer said:

Fantastic write up mate. I'm sure this will tickle someone's fancy.

Cheers! Hope so 

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got any pics of your set up @Nervous

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14 minutes ago, twigs said:

got any pics of your set up @Nervous


I don't unfortunately, most of my DIY projects go on in the greenhouse which is quite inhospitable this time of year. Watch this space! I'll do an update in spring. 

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have you ever tried aquaponics @Nervous ?

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5 minutes ago, twigs said:

have you ever tried aquaponics @Nervous ?


It's something I'd love to do but with animals being involved I couldn't raise them unless the environment they were in was sufficient for them to live a happy life. My understanding is that you have to have a pretty large and well established tank to provide enough nutrients for heavy feeding plants and I just don't have the space. 

What's your favourite method for growing other than soil?   

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apart from compost, hempy buckets is all i’ve tried.. 

 

if i had space i would never leave my ‘camp’ and have every method going at once, but i’ll have to bide my time for now..

 

i’m going to try an all seaweed compost grow soon, literally just seaweed in a pot and chuck a plant in and see what happens :stoned: 

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Do you have any pics?

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4 hours ago, Nervous said:


I don't unfortunately, most of my DIY projects go on in the greenhouse which is quite inhospitable this time of year. Watch this space! I'll do an update in spring. 


I could potentially draw you a diagram? 

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You guys fasinate me with these techniques.......couldnt be more alien to what I do. (R-DWC)

 

Must admit I was waiting for the pics :yep:

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When I was researching how to grow it took me a while to realise that hydroponics and organic growing were mutually exclusive (or at least used to be) - I'm gonna read up on this but due to limited space and access to my grow I reckon I'll be keeping my res sterile for the foreseeable :sadwalk:

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45 minutes ago, Ranec said:

When I was researching how to grow it took me a while to realise that hydroponics and organic growing were mutually exclusive (or at least used to be) - I'm gonna read up on this but due to limited space and access to my grow I reckon I'll be keeping my res sterile for the foreseeable :sadwalk:


Space isn't too much of an issue, I find you need a BF about 10% of the size of your reservoir (5L minimum though). That's the only extra piece of equipment on top of the usual space wise.

One thing I failed to mention is that keeping the reservoir in the grow space is a no no - if you thought NH was temperature sensitive, wait til you try BP!  

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22 hours ago, twigs said:

have you ever tried aquaponics @Nervous ?

I've made a demo setup for this with tilapia for a local college. Worked well, but you do need to feed the fish first, which feeds the plants second. Not sure how well it'd do with canna. 

 

Love the idea of this for curiosity's sake but sounds like something that could go wrong quickly with little provocation? Presumably a few hours of power cut would be pretty dire. 

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