How does the Autopot system work and what is it?
Hydroponics aka cultivation in water, is used both on an industrial scale and in home plant breeding, mainly in tents and greenhouses. As water is used as the ‘soil’ in this system, the most essential element that needs to be taken care of is the irrigation system. Let us have a closer look at how the irrigation system in hydroponics gardening works. We will understand this by analyzing the Autopot system.
Basically, Autopot is an automatic irrigation system that works perfectly in both home crops and large commercial plantations. It does not require any electricity powered devices because it operates on gravitational principle. It always works efficiently and without failure. What’s more, you can even modify or expand the Autopot irrigation system, if needed, in order for it to suit the type of crop you have planted.
How is the Autopot system built?
As the name clarifies it a bit, an Autopot is mostly available in ready-to-use sets, in which each module is equipped with a flower pot whose main purpose is to withstand the cultivated plant. They are available in various capacities and can easily adapt to specific requirements. We have small sets of Autopots like 1POT with four 15-liter pots; medium – Easy2Grow 12×8, 8l and large (60×8, 8l); and for the largest hydroponics – huge sets of Autopot equipped with 115 gallons of pots!
The main compositions of an Autopot are: a specially designed irrigation tray that fits into the pot; piping connecting the next elements of the system; water valve (so-called cistern) to control the flow of water to the stand; and a tank to store mixture of water and nutrient solution.
How it works?
In an Autopot system, the central part is the reservoir in which combined nutrients and water are stored. It is further connected with the cisterns, using pipes, which are found in each tray having pots placed in it. Moreover, the tanks are located above the pots, which further allows for automatic drainage of the solution with tubes. Thanks to the cistern watching over the system, trays under the pots can be filled without the risk of being flooded. Further, the term “flush” is associated with the mechanism because it works on the same principle as found in every toilet.
As far as the irrigation is concerned, the nutrient solution is successively absorbed by the plants, further decreasing its level in the tray. So, if there is smaller amount of nutrient solution in the tank, it is a clear indication that the valves open up properly and feed the crop with new portion of nutrient. The entire process is repeated until there is no water remaining in the main tank.
Why is it worth it?
The main reason behind why an Autopot is worth it is that it consists of a fully automated system as far as crop irrigation is concerned. The entire process carries on itself and you need not supervise and control it on every step. It is because you just need to monitor the level of the nutrient in the tank. If you see that the nutrients have been exhausted, then you can directly supplement them on your own. What’s more, you don’t even need to purchase additional equipment such as electric pumps or programmers. It is because of this automated system and non-requirement of additional pumps that this system does not create annoying noise and does not consume electricity at all.
People around the world need to be interested in hydroponics because it is quite easy, brings in a lot of satisfaction, and is the best way of growing plants. And, for the aspirers of hydroponics gardening, who do not have much time to look after their specimens but want to create their small green oasis at home, Autopot kits and accessories help a lot.
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Autopots All The Way
Many people have the desire to learn about hydroponics, but many times they are intimidated by all of the pumps, timers, and equipment associated with the hobby. Here’s a spotlight on one of the systems we feel is a great starting point for automation without needing to have a full understanding of hydroponics.
The Autopot is one of our favorites because it is so easy to maintain. Unlike other growing systems, the Autopot does not require electrical power, making it reliable and easy just about anywhere, from greenhouses to warehouses. The system consists of a reservoir, pot(s), a tray for the pot(s), a copper root guard pad to keep the roots in the pot, and a special water controlling device called the Aquavalve, which is the key component to the Autopot. Unlike other float valves, the Aquavalve allows all the water to be sucked up by the plant and media before it allows more water into the tray. This prevents the plant from drowning.
The Autopot system can contain as little as one pot, or as many as you can fit comfortably in a given space. We’ve seen one-pot setups with a 5 gallon bucket as a reservoir, as well as 30 pot setups with a 55 gallon drum. There are 2 pot sizes; the 3.9 gallon and the 6.6 gallon for larger plants. Our best selling system is the 4 Pot Complete w/ a 12 gallon reservoir.
Many of our customers like the versatility of the Autopot. There are many types of growing media that can be used as well as nutrients. Coco Coir on its own or mixed with perlite, pumice, or rice hulls has proven to work great. Mineral based nutrients like Canna, General Hydroponics, or Emerald Harvest work well if you prefer the hydroponic approach. We have had customers use their own super soil mix (soil that has high organic nutrient/biology content), which allowed them to just use water in the reservoir throughout the entire growing cycle. Since this system does not recirculate the water and nutrients, there is not much need to monitor the pH or EC (nutrient concentration) after initial mixing and adjusting. These are great things to consider if you want a system that you can leave alone for several days at a time.
One of my favorite uses of the Autopot is for housing stock or “mother plants”. These are the plants that we choose to take cuttings from for future harvests. Taking care of your stock plants is just as important as anything that happens your bloom space. Without good stock plants and the ability to take healthy cuttings from them, your harvest cycle could be delayed. Because a bloom room is typically larger than the stock/grow room, it tends to get all of the attention, leaving the mother plants to “just wait one more day” for water and nutrients. The Autopot eliminates this unnecessary stress and frees the grower up to focus on things like pruning and inspecting for pests (important things!).
Some of our gardeners are starting to use the Easy2Go Kit to water their collection of plants on a deck or patio. The valve can be used to water an entire tray of plants, which is great for the middle of summer when you want to go on a short vacation and not come home to dry or dead plants. With the proper water filtration, these trays could be watered from a rain barrel or a typical reservoir.
We like to plant up our Autopot system with all sorts of flowers and vegetables. Below is a photo of young Thai Peppers growing in 100% coco coir in Asheville. The blue Wall-E looking device in the bottom of the tray is the Aquavalve. In the past, we’ve grown basil, tomatoes, and dwarf sunflowers. In the future, we plan to grow cucumbers, melons, and pumpkins suspended in a trellis net. There’s nothing wrong with a little experimentation!
The one thing that the system relies on for success is to keep it clean. The float valve has 2 yellow neoprenes that plug the water when the tray is full or empty. It is extremely important to keep these parts clean. We also suggest removing the Aquavalve from the tray, unplugging the ¼ inch tubing, and checking for debris that may cause clogging. These cleanings can often happen after harvesting or put on a schedule to inspect every couple of months. If you follow these steps, your Autopot will perform beautifully!
Autopots All The Way Many people have the desire to learn about hydroponics, but many times they are intimidated by all of the pumps, timers, and equipment associated with the hobby. Here’s a