What is an EBB & Flow tide table?

2 min read

What is an EBB & Flow tide table?

A tide table is a hydroponic system based on watering cycles to alternate between dry cycle and wet cycle. Better known under the English name of EBB & Flow or even flood and drain, this method offers the possibility of cultivating a greater variety of plants compared to other hydroponic systems. However, the necessary adjustments make the tide table a preferred system for growers who already have a little more experience.
For those interested, Platinium Hydroponics offers a perfect 1m² EBB & Flow system to start with.

What is an EBB & Flow tide table?

Diagram of a tide table

A tide table, or EBB & Flow, is an above-ground growing system. The plants contained in a substrate are given watering cycles. Once the substrate is saturated, the nutrient solution flows out and back into the tank, much like NFT systems.

Between these watering cycles, the plants absorb this nutrient solution, which again dries out the substrate. These alternating cycles will promote root development and boost the rate of growth, as well as yields.

How does an EBB & Flow tide table work?

First of all, a basic system includes a tank that contains the nutrient solution. Above this reservoir is the famous tide table. On this table, the plants are installed in their pots filled with substrates. A submersible water pump connected to a timer brings the nutrient solution up to the tide table, this is the watering cycle (flood). The water will stabilize at a certain level in this table because the latter has a drain hole towards the tank. Thus, the nutrient solution circulates and is oxygenated, while being absorbed by capillarity by the plants placed on this table. Once the watering cycle is finished, the water continues to flow to the tank (drain). The substrate gradually dries out while waiting for the new watering cycle.

Tide table system.

What are the advantages of an EBB & Flow tide table?

Tide table systems already make it possible to grow a wider variety of plants. Indeed, as each plant has its pot and its substrate, the root mass is less limited than in an NFT system for example. This makes it possible to grow larger plants or varieties with higher nutritional requirements.

In addition, the cycles of watering and drought allow an optimization of the production of fruits and vegetables. For example, it becomes quite easy to apply water stress in order to obtain better flavors.

The tide table being an active hydroponic system with recirculation, the nutrient solution is not wasted but re-used continuously. This saves fertilizer and water in the long run.

What are the disadvantages of a tide table?

One of the first drawbacks of the tide table is common to all active hydroponic systems : the need for electricity. Indeed, without a water pump, the solution cannot be circulated.

In addition, the system being based on recirculation, this necessarily requires increased control of the nutrient solution in order to ensure that the EC and pH values do not fluctuate excessively. The nutrient solution is therefore more unstable, which requires a little more experience.

Experience that will be welcome, moreover, to be able to correctly adjust the irrigation intervals. These intervals depend on several variables including the capillarity of the substrate and the type of plants grown.

We therefore quickly understand that although the effectiveness of the EBB & Flow tide tables is no longer to be demonstrated, they require a slightly longer learning curve than other systems for beginners. An NFT system would be more adequate to forge a simpler first experience with some similarities.

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