New Under Current Hydroponic System Review
Latest UC RDWC System, Upgrade or Up Sell?
In our new Under Current hydroponic system review, we share our real life hydro growing trial using the latest UC RDWC (recirculating deep water culture) hydro system from CCH2O.com AKA Current Culture, Fresno CA. If you have been following grozine.com, you know we have been using a variety of Current Culture systems for years now including the UC, UC XL, UC XXL and UC Pro. If you’re new here and you’re asking “what exactly is a UC system”, fear not. In short, the UC system or platform is short for Under Current system, a recirculating hydroponic system developed by Current Culture.
In the UC system, bare rooted plants intended for high yields are supported in 8 inch or 5.5 inch net pots that are held in lids above containers filled with a highly oxygenated and continuously recirculated nutrient solution. SEE DIAGRAM.
Above: Original UC System Basic Layout
The Current Culture UC platform is tried, tested and true while lending itself well to offering serious growers, big or small, the following advantages:
-significant reduction in overall cropping time required (less than half the time in vegetative growth versus soil or soilless, and take about a week off flowering in a good environment)
-near 50% water use reduction versus conventional drain to waste soilless applications
-crops demonstrate higher nutrient uptake at lower concentrations; less fertilizer is required
-using the laws of thermodynamics, savings in environmental heating or cooling can be achieved; think of a combustion engine’s temperature control system: it’s fluid based versus air cooled only
-nutrients are highly pure, there is less risk of crop contamination and consumers taste the plant’s natural qualities, not impurities.
What’s New in the Latests UC RDWC Set-Up?
Above: Latest generation (2019) Under Current System
While the latest system is built on the proven platform of recirculating deep water culture, there are some significant refinements and new features in the latests (2019) set up.
The UC XXL modules we trialled for this new undercurrent system review look and feel like a different type of plastic, we noticed it is much easier to clean salt build up and organic residues, etc with a simple wipe. Easier to make and run the systems like new again after harvest and clean up.
A really sweet new feature built into the new UC Modules is the double walled construction at the bottoms. This keeps root systems up and off of cold or hot floors and makes it easy to drain the system to 100% empty without needing to use a shop vac or similar using the Drain Out Kit.
The air delivery system for aeration in the root zone has been refined and tidied up nicely. A central manifold running the length of the system with connections to the individual air stones in each of the modules keeps aisle ways tidy–no more long lengths of thinner air tubing running in a variety of directions to worry about tripping over anymore. Most importantly, it seems to do a better job of equalizing air pressure through the system so one or two modules aren’t hogging all the air while others get less. TIP: Don’t underestimate what a minor crimp in aeration can mean for your yields in DWC or RDWC systems.
Add Back Siphon Valve Option, this is simple, reliable and effective way of adding pH adjusters or fertilizer concentrates manually into the system so as not to shock bare roots with sudden changes or excessive concentrations. Using natural principles in the nutrient flow (nothing to plug in with this), a siphon valve pulls your diluted concentrates from a bucket, etc slooooowly into the system, mixing it directly into the supply line at a concentration that won’t shock plants.
The Air Reg option is an essential if you want to dial in the right amount of aeration into the system via air pump and manifold. Note that when you buy a complete Under Current RDWC set up, it is typically supplied with the correct output air pump. However, if you want to make modifications and really dial things in the Air Reg will allow you to achieve in the right amount of aeration following the gauge, ie 25 to 28 Inches of Water (units of measurement on the gauge).
The Lids supplied in our new Under Current Hydroponic system review are now white and are designed for Five and a Half Inch net pots instead of Eight Inch net pots as with previous generations. This saves on the amount of growing media needed and makes it easier to manage plant numbers in UC Solo Systems or on Flood Tables, ie establishing the transplants in net pots before planting into UC RDWC system module; you can fit more in the same space now.
New Under Current Hydroponic System Review: So How Did it All Work?
As you may have expected based on our previous experiences here, our first run with the new UC RDWC set up went very well; even while trying a new crop type for us, and that was Red Bell Peppers (Capsicum). We harvested lots of beautiful nice sized red peppers using Cali Wonder, a very common variety in back yard gardens, ie seeds are easy to get.
At Grozine we also like to grow organic veggies and herbs along with our hydro crops–and WE JUST GOTTA TELL YOU: the Taste, Texture and Aroma of the Fresh Red Peppers we harvested all through the later part of the summer from the new Under Current System was nothing less than ABSOLUTELY MAGNIFICENT. Seriously, we really didn’t know bell peppers could taste and smell this intensely good–the entire kitchen would smell of a whole crop of peppers just by leaving one of these beauties out on the counter. We also noticed the fruits were much fleshier and contained very few seeds compared to store bought red bell peppers–so sweet and juicy.
We really can’t find anything negative to say in our new under current hydroponic system review. Works even better and easier than the tried and true original. If we were really looking hard for something to say other than “perfect” we might comment that there is more packaging than previous for a similar amount of parts. However, as hydroponics becomes more mainstream and accessible, it’s not surprising to see more retail friendly type packaging in a system with a growing following.
PRO Tips for Getting the BEST Results from RDWC Hydroponics Systems
Fill with RO Filtered Water; contaminants can be a big deal in water culture systems
Use nutrients intended for water culture systems; we like Cultured Solutions in our RDWC systems
Leave some air space between the bottom of the net pot and the Full level once roots emerge and develop into the solution below
Avoid adding any biological or organic products into the solution; lots of aeration and no bio media can produce living sludge from organic sources
Maintain a lower EC or TDS/PPM level versus flood & drain, rockwool, etc; with no media and lots of oxygen roots can take up nutrients very efficiently