In the Hydroponic space, the Dutch Bucket system has found a lot of mention and a lot of favor from those venturing into cultivating vegetables such as Capsicum, tomatoes, Brinjal, etc.
Advantages of the Dutch Bucket System
- Simple and scalable. One can go from 50 buckets to 500 buckets in a matter of a few days.
- Cost-effective. One time set-up cost gives the ability to crops for the next 8-10 years.
- Water-saving. Recirculation helps in saving 85% more water than open-field agriculture.
- Independent set-up. Each plant grows in its separate bucket. Easier to quarantine a diseased plant and control the spread of disease without affecting the entire system.
- One system provides the ability to grow multiple varieties of crops.
Materials/Components needed to set-up a Dutch Bucket System
- Dutch buckets with siphon elbows. As many as you may like in your system.
- Nutrient tank. A normal water tank or drum with a lid can be used to serve as the nutrient tank. The capacity of the tank should be decided based on the scale of your set-up.
- A place for Dutch Buckets. You can use a table or a raised platform for this purpose.
- One feeding pipe. You can use a flexible garden pipe for letting the nutrients into the dutch bucket.
- Small drip lines. These are watering pipes/tubes to feed the plants in the individual dutch bucket.
- One collection pipe. You can use a UPVC or CPVC pipe for collecting the nutrient solution back from the buckets and allowing it to flow back into the nutrient tank.
- One submersible pump. The pump will be used to automate the flow of nutrients to the plants.
- One timer. The timer can be used to set the timings for the irrigation cycle. You can choose to skip the timer and run the pump 24x7 as well.
Step by step instructions for setting-up the Dutch Bucket System
Set-up time: 30 minutes.
- Prepare a raised bed/table where you will be placing the dutch buckets.
- Place the collection pipe on the raised surface.
- Make the necessary openings/holes in the collection pipe to fit the Dutch buckets into these holes.
- Attach siphon elbows to the dutch buckets. You may want to attach a small net/mesh at the opening of the siphon elbow inside the Dutch bucket to prevent coco peat/clay pellets from entering the pipe through the siphon elbow and blocking the pipe; thus, preventing water from circulating all through.
- Place the dutch buckets on the raised platform such that the siphon elbow outlets fit into the holes made in the collection pipe.
- Place the feeding pipe across the Dutch Buckets.
- Attach the smaller watering tubes to the feeding pipe such that each plant can get its nutrition through the feeding pipe.
- Make a hole in the lid of the nutrient container and place the outlet of the collection pipe in the cover so that the nutrient run-off gets collected back into the nutrient tank.
- Connect the feeding pipe with the submersible pump and place it in the nutrient tank.
- Switch on the pump and check if the water is circulating correctly.
Voila! The Dutch Bucket Set up is ready.
The only thing left to be done is to fill it up with a growing media of your choice and then transplant the seedlings. You can go for any grow media that is heavier (to provide reasonable support to plants and to ensure that it does not float in water and end up clogging the collection pipe or submersible pump) and provides for proper aeration. Our choice of media for Dutch Buckets is Leca (Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate), but you can also try with Fly Ash Pebbles or some other media of your choice.