Rolling Bench Drip Trays
Original Article: http://www.grozine.com/2018/08/07/rolling-bench-drip-trays/
Above: Each drip emitter delivers an exact amount of water & nutrients
Grow More in Less Space With A Floating Aisle Way
Rolling bench drip trays make grow room & greenhouse floor space efficient and tidy. Rolling bench drip trays also offer versatility to indoor, commercial and hobby growers alike because a wide variety of growing media, container mixes and plant varieties can be grown successfully and harvested with a high level of crop quality. They are also perfect for nursery flats (wheat grass, seedlings, etc) and aeroponics systems too. Further, Rolling bench drip tray systems are well suited to automation for time savings, scalability and healthier crops.
drip systems offer tight levels of control over the air to water ratios in your growing media of choice. Mastering irrigation cycles, ie timing duration & frequency based on crop development is right up there on the way to achieving a master grower skill set, whether you grow for money or as a hobby.
Rolling Bench Basics
Rolling bench designs are well established for use in horticultural applications, and besides the usual benefits of growing on table tops, rolling benches create a Floating Aisle. Having floating aisle way means that more floor space in a greenhouse or grow room can hold plants; you don’t need a dedicated aisle way between each row of plants on benches when supporting drip trays or flood trays on the bench tops. Here’s a basic visual example, below: As you can see, a single dedicated aisle way “floats” as needed; the table tops supporting drip trays or flood tables are on steel pipes that roll to one side and the other. Naturally, they are designed so that when installed correctly the table top and tray cannot tip over or roll off the top. This can add upwards of 20% more production in the same sized area without cramping movement or flow in a grow room or greenhouse. Clearly there are advantages to rolling bench systems versus stationary. For the hobbyist, even a single rolling bench saves valuable aisle space while making it easier to do routine maintenance like pruning. This allows bigger yields from tighter spaces.
Drip Tray Basics
The principles behind drip tray systems are simple and highly effective. The Table component of rolling bench drip trays is typically a plastic and inert shallow tray that has ridges in the bottom to channel away drainage to a drain fitting connected to a hose or pipe at either end of the slightly sloped bench system. In the drip tray, plants are irrigated via a pipe manifold that supplies plants in the system with water and nutrients by spaghetti type irrigation tubing and emitters. The manifold is most often connected to a pump with filter (filters are very important in drip systems). The pump is situated in a reservoir filled with water and nutrients. These systems can be operated to recirculate (to conserve water), although are typically operated as “drain to waste” in commercial set ups because of the challenges that are more unique to larger scale cultivation. The drip tray system can easily be adapted to a wide variety of growing media, containers, slabs, grow sleeves, etc. With proper management, drip systems offer tight levels of control over the air to water ratios in your growing media of choice. Mastering irrigation cycles, ie timing duration & frequency based on crop development is right up there on the way to achieving a master grower skill set, whether you grow for money or as a hobby.
Setting Up Rolling Bench Drip Trays
The rolling bench set up we have featured here is made up of the following components: 1/4” diameter spaghetti hose 3/4” diameter rigid irrigation tubing (manifold) 3/4” diameter thick walled flex hose (from pump to manifold) 1-1/2” diameter bilge hose (drain hose, not pressurized) irrigation pressure reducers cleanable 1 GPH drip emitters 50 micron barrel style irrigation filter high performance water pump various fittings like thru hulls (drainage), “T”s, “L”s, and end caps doser system (optional, for automation) irrigation timer (recommended although optional if persons are always available to check on crops) Infinity Tray System Active Aqua Rolling Bench System Elite Garden Nutrients (perfect for drip) Coco Coir (to fill containers) RediRoot Aeration Pots (to allow for more frequent irrigations) The really neat thing with this particular choice in Rolling Bench Drip Tables (or Flood Tray) is that they are modular, and ship very compact and tidy. Note from the images how the 4’ X 8’ drip table comes as two separate pieces that are attached together—any practical length desired can be achieved with the Infinity Tray system. Same with the Rolling Bench Support—you can keep adding lengths to achieve the right fit for your operation while maximizing space use. In case you might be wondering, it took as about an hour and a half to fully assemble the system featured here—that’s one person, first time around. With multiple installers and designated tasks related to final assembly, this amount of time per bench could go down considerably. Note the time does not include setting up there actual drip system.