Deep Water Cultures: Types and Designs

The team standing next to a deep water culture aquaponic setup

Deep Water Cultures: Types and Designs

Deep Water Cultures: Types and Designs

October 07, 2021

Deep Water Cultures or Raft Systems are considered as one of the most successful methods of growing juicy, leafy greens. Its low maintenance, fast-growth rate and scalability are just a few of the many benefits of this farming method. Therefore, it’s no wonder that this grow method is included in so many different aquaponic and hydroponic system designs.
Let’s walk through the different deep water culture types and designs.

What are Deep Water Cultures?

This particular method of farming dates back to some of the earliest Asian farming cultures. The idea originated with deepwater rice farming practices in Bangladesh, China and other Asian countries around the world. They would plant the rice in flood-prone areas right before their wet season. These areas would be flooded with water throughout the monsoon season allowing the rice to grow in deep water bodies of up to 3m in depth!

In aquaponic systems today, we use a raft system. Moreover, the plants are placed in small pots and these pots are inserted into their allocated holes in the floating rafts. Therefore, the plant roots hang in the nutrient-rich water and take up what they need.

We love having a DWC in our system design as it allows for a quick turnover and harvest for leafy green produce. Additionally, there is very little effort required to keep your plants happy and healthy. It is important to note that sufficient aeration is essential to plant health in a DWC setup. Make sure to use an air-stone or air diffuser tubing to keep those dissolved oxygen levels high.

A DWC Setup with different stages of plant growth

Different types of Deep Water Cultures

Standard DWC

This is probably one of the most common DWC methods. This type of DWC setup consists of multiple rows of DWC grow beds all separated by walkways. This method is great for water flow and ease of access. However, you can only really get medium efficiency with this layout.

Three Tier DWC

Simply put, this layout consists of three single DWC beds. They are interconnected with pathways on either side of the beds for walkways. This allows for high efficiency and good water flow, but you may need some assistance with the design on this one.

Wading DWC

This is when you have one large DWC spanning across the entire tunnel. This means that you will have to wade in the DWC when farming, plants and harvesting etc. The one disadvantage to this type of DWC is that you could struggle with poor water flow but this method does allow for the highest efficiency.

Empty and fully planted Wading DWC

Some Friendly Tips with Deep Water Culture Design

Make sure to keep your fish in a separate tank and not in the same water body as your floating rafts. This is because some hungry fishies might nibble on your plant roots while you’re not looking, resulting in the death and decay of your fresh produce.

Additionally, it is important that no solids are floating around in your DWC. These solids can cause your plant roots to brown and stunt your overall plant growth. Therefore, make sure to pass the water through a swirl filter or better yet a flood and drain media bed before allowing it to enter into the DWC.

We highly recommend including a DWC in your aquaponic or hydroponic system design as you can produce high-quality products with ease and efficiency.

We can help you design your system to suit your needs, just book a consultation with us!