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HarleyS

Raft material choices for long term goals?

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I was just wondering, how good has the good old poly mats held up in all your systems?

 

I was thinking it probably doesnt and I would like a mat choice that is more... durable?....permanent?

 

Like a material backed floater plank based mat or... something.

 

Also has anyone had trouble with the color of their mats?

 

IE them getting to hot is they have a black face or some such?

 

Just some questions I had, and I was always taught no question is stupid, just not asking to begin with.

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Naw I meant floater raft material with holes drilled or cut for cups.

 

Will definately have to look at that liner as well though - But I thought white liners were bad because they promote algae?

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Nutrients and sunlight promote algae.  White back grounds the algae is more visible, so it likely appears to promote algae.  Dead spaces that have little or no flow also help algae growth. 

 

As far as raft material, that is a very good question.  Not stupid by any means. One that I am pondering as well at this time as I debate on which system is better for my next expansion.

 

 

There was a person that posted in the buy/sell thread last month looking to sell his old rafts from a commercial operation due to switching to NFT. You might look at that and discuss whether it's a viable solution for you. They were precut and painted if I recall correctly.  Shipping was too pricey for me, but you're closer to his location, so it might be a better deal.

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I use the high density foam board that is pink in color from my nearest big box store. You can paint it with white latex paint if you wish. I think it's 1.5 inches in thickness although 2 inch is available. It pretty much lasts indefinitely vs. the white foamboard.

IMG_0744_zps74b3172b.jpg

IMG_0745_zps8c31ae2a.jpg

Edited by Cecil (see edit history)

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Hmm on this same note talking about this, as anyone tried a solid plastic raft with floaters attached/glued to the bottom?

 

I'm thinking like cheap tote tub lid thickness?

 

I wonder wether something like that with possible molded grips would be a good idea or just a waste of effort.

 

I understand that for most applications recycling and cost effectiveness can be key as to what you end up using, but I'm looking more on the lines of conveniance to handle when moving the raft as well.

 

my thought was like a nice plastic with handle grips added and something akin to boat floats attached to the underside.

 

can see the weight being an issue though - thats one thing the foam is basically always gonna win on.

Edited by HarleyS (see edit history)

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I don't think the plastic has enough of an advantage over the foam to be worth the effort. The foam really isn't that hard to handle in my opinion. You see it on commercial farms so there must be a reason.

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Hi Harley,

 

The tote lids would degrade due to UV exposure.  The material used by many people is"Blue Board" - a Dow product, I think.

 

Gary

 

Gary,

 

My favorite big box store only carries the pink color, which I think is the same high density foam just made by a different company (Owen Corning). I've used it to build my RBC's and there is no deterioration.

 

If I'm wrong someone please correct me.

 

Thanks!

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I'm not sure if this is what you want, but I am trying a slightly different approach.  I just built a grow bed where I'm using regular fence boards 4 feet long.  Instead of a raft, these boards rest on the side of the tank which is only 6 inches deep.  Net pots sit in the boards, and I utilize an air gap before the roots hit the water.  Ok, so that is the plan.  I haven't planted it yet, but it's about to happen.

Edited by craig1267 (see edit history)

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Well, I've been running the DWC with the fence boards and they seem to work great.  I am not sure if the boards allow for more weight then a raft would, considering that polystyrene is pretty buoyant.  I find that you absolutely need to support bigger plants some kind of way via cages or from an above-mounted platform with wires or strings. One advantage is for using tomato cages: A raft would never support the tomatoes and the weight of the cages without being pushed under water I don't think. A downside is that since there is an air gap, juvenile plants don't have long enough roots to reach the water.  It doesn't take long to develop roots, but I found that I was unable to transplant anything small directly into net pots in the boards.  I had to rest them in the gravel bed first and let the roots develop.

 

So far I've grown tomatoes, japanese-type eggplants, cajun bell peppers, jalapenos and banana peppers.  Tomatoes turn into a thicket without support, period.  I think I'm going to stick to the gravel beds for the tomatoes.  Eggplants are probably also too big. but they do ok inside of a tomato cage.  Bell peppers are on par with the eggplants.  Banana peppers, jalapenos and the small cajun bells do excellent since they are able to hold themselves up without much support.

 

Something else worth noting.  The depth of the bed is 6 inches, without a liner.  With a liner, it is somewhat less.  This is measured from the bottom of the fence board to the bottom of the reservoir. No problems there, even with an air gap there is plenty of room for roots.

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This is a picture when I first constructed the bed. I have pea gravel on one side with the fence boards on the other, as you can see.  I have since replaced those red bricks with something better to keep the gravel contained.

 

4x11 hydroponic grow bed March 2015 #2

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