Using an automatic irrigation system at home will help you save your time and effort and once you set up the system you won’t have to worry about watering your plants as much. It is expensive to buy an irrigation system but making your one yourself is cheaper and not that hard to do. An automatic irrigation setup can water your cannabis plants multiple times a day automatically and you do not need to turn on the equipment or supervise it all the time. In this article we will guide you on how to build your own cannabis automatic irrigation system and and give you a few tips to make the process easy to do.
How Does Automatic Irrigation Work?
An automatic irrigation system is basically a water reservoir with a pump, tubing, and a timer. Usually, the reservoir is placed outside the grow tent and has a water pump attached to it. The water pump delivers water to your plants in the tent through a tubing.
The complexity depends on how many plants you have and how large your tent is—the more complex and larger the space, the more hosing you’ll need, the larger the reservoir you’ll need, and the stronger the pump you’ll require. Other than that, the system is the same, but it just needs to scale based on size of the operation.
The Components of an Irrigation System
The water reservoir is the most important part of an automatic irrigation system. Let’s look at the necessary parameters of the reservoir (and by reservoir, we mean and container that holds water):
The ideal temperature of the reservoir should be between 62 °F (16 °C) and 75 °F (24 °C).
Size: A 120x120cm grow tent will consume about 12 liters of water a day. The reservoir needs to hold at least 3-4 days of water to maintain the system running.
Height: The height of the reservoir should be taller than the top of the pot your plants are in—this works because we’ll use gravity to pull water and will help us avoid pressure-related issues that might come up.
Coloration: The coloration of the reservoir is key—it should be dark to help reduce bacterial growth, especially if you decide to add nutrients.
So how do you choose a water pump? It needs to have enough power and pressure so the water can be pulled into the grow tent and distributed to all plants equally. If there are less than 10 plants in your tent, we recommend an 1100 L/h pump. If there are more than 10 plants in your tent, I suggest you set up two irrigation systems with two separate water pumps. This is because one pump across many plants will not provide balanced water distribution.
Setting up watering time is also important. Use a digital timer with one second intervals will make your irrigation system controlled down to the second.
Keeping water or nutrient-mixture oxygenated in the reservoir is important. If your water reservoir holds less than 120 liters you can use regular air pumps and air-stones to oxygenate it but if you have a container larger than 120 liters you have to use a stirring pump to help oxygenate it. Plants also need oxygen to keep alive; in fact, not providing enough oxygen is a common way cannabis plants die.
A simple digital aquarium thermometer will help you keep the temperature in an adequate area. A temperature between 18 – 20 °C can prevent harmful bacteria growing in the water.
Main Water Line
The main water line is the tube that delivers water to the tent. We suggest you use the polyurethane tube because the puncture-resistant, semi-rigid material will last longer. Of course, you can use other materials—it is up to you, just avoid using a clear piping because light penetration will encourage algae growth and clog your system.
After you prepare everything we mentioned above you have to choose best the way to irrigate your plants. Generally, there are two ways: Individual drippers or drip rings. They both work well but they also have their pros and cons. A lot of people consider drip rings to be superior because they do not leave dry spots in the substrate, however, once they’re set up they cannot be moved, so only using them for final containers is the option.
Irrigation Options Pros & Cons
|individual drippers||Can be moved easily||Leave dry spots in substrate|
|drip rings||Saturates all the substrate||Cannot be moved|
Setting Up Your Automatic Irrigation System
Setting up your automatic irrigation system is very easy: all you need to prepare are scissors and a way to make the holes in the water reservoir.
Drill a hole on the side of the water reservoir. Next, we’ll put the water pump, air-stone, and thermometer into the reservoir. Drill another hole in the lid and pass the thermometer through along with the water pump’s power cord and the air pump tubing. Create a pathway into the grow tent for the main water line, whether that means cutting one or passing it through a ventilation port.
We’ll cover two different ways of irrigating your plants: individual drippers or drip rings. Here are the setup processes.
Setting Up Individual Drippers
To install drippers, pierce the main water line and connect the drippers. Cut the tubes to a suitable size, no need to worry, just fit them your needs. Then, set the tubes into the pots.
Setting Up Drip Rings
Verify the length of tube you need and cut them to the suitable size. The process is quite easy, just connect the tube to the connectors and then attach the drip rings.
To Sum Up
Building your automatic irrigation system seems very challenging but it in fact is simple. An automatic irrigation system will be a perfect fit if you always travel or are busy at work since it will save you a lot of time and effort. If you are using automatic irrigation setup at your home right now, do not hesitate to share your thoughts and tips with fellow growers in the comment section below!
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