I came across the Autopot hydroponics system when reading through Keith Roberto’s How-To Hydroponics book.

Invented by Jim Fah, the autopot is a unqiue twist on the common flood and drain hydroponics system. Instead of using a pump to regularly flood the plant root zone, it uses gravity to deliver hydropnic nutrients to the hydroponic plants.

The most unique feature of the autopot is the Smart-valve. This valve uses a floating valve, much like that use in a toilet cistern, although rather than allowing water to enter as soon as the water level drops, it waits for the reservoir to empty completely before filling up the nutrient reservoir.

This provides a number of significant advantages. Firstly, the complete emptying and filling of the reservoir mimics the flood-and-drain properties of those systems, providing nutrients immediately upon filling, and then oxygenation of the plant roots as the nutrient reservoir empties.

Secondly, because the nutrients are used only once, there is no need to regularly monitor and regulate the nutrient composition and pH. A batch of hydroponic nutrients is made once, and is used in its entirety before being discarded. This also means that the hydroponic nutrient solution is fully utilised, rather than being discarded every 1-2 weeks.

Thirdly, this system is completely modular, and different plants can be planted into adjacent pots. Each pot is a small system in its own right, where the Smart Valve regulates its own nutrient requirements. It would also be easy to switch plants from “growth” to “bloom” nutrient supplies by simply changing the intake line.

Filed under: Hydroponics Gardening

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