Hydroponics System: Operations Guide

Note: The first draft of the Operations Guide is worth writing early in the design process. Why is that? Because one of our prime requirements for the system is “easy and fast to operate”. Writing the guide now helps us think about what tasks we have to make “easy and fast”.

This guide describes the operation and maintenance of the MakerMade Grow System. The guide contains these sections:

  • Setup
  • Operation
  • Maintenance
  • Shutdown


Follow these steps to assemble and test your new MakerMade Grow System:

  • Make sure all the parts are present. Compare what you have to the assembly diagram below, and insure that everything you need is present. If not contact ___TBD___.
  • Rest of setup steps go here.


There are three types of operations activities, consisting of a) plant care and harvesting, b) nutrient management, and c) maintenance tasks.

Plant Care

Plant care consists of these activities:

Germinate new seedlingsAs neededNew seedlings ready to go as product is harvested
Install seedlings into towerAs neededSeedlings installed into tower, and successfully accessing nutrients
Harvest As neededGet great food
Groomevery 2 daysDead or diseased leaves removed
Scan for and address insect or disease problemsevery 2 daysProblems identified early and treated immediately
Scan for and address nutrient management problemsevery 2 daysAll plants getting proper nutrition. No evidence of wilting or nutrient imbalance

Nutrient Management

Nutrient management consists of these activities:

Test nutrient solution for proper content and acidityevery 2 daysNutrient solution has proper ingredients in proper proportions
Top up nutrient reservoirweeklyReservoir tank is full of nutrient solution
Prepare more nutrient concentrate as neededReady supply of nutrient concentrate
Replace nutrient solutionevery 3 weeksNutrient solution totally replaced with clean, algae- and bacteria-free solution. See the Replace Nutrient Solution Guide (TBD) for more detail.


Maintenance consists of these activities:

Check nutrient flowweeklyInsure that each tower is getting its share of nutrient flow, and that the pipes and manifolds are not clogged
Check pump healthweeklyInsure that the pump isn’t struggling. See the Pump Diagnostics Guide (TBD) for more detail.
Check for leaksweeklyGlance over the system to insure that there are no leaks
System Disinfectionevery 6 monthsThoroughly clean and disinfect the entire system. See the System Disinfection Guide (TBD) for more detail.


When it comes time to move or temporarily suspend operations on your MakerMade Growing system, follow these steps:

  • Turn the system off, and disconnect the power cord
  • Wait one hour for all nutrients in the system to flow to the reservoir
  • Drain the nutrient reservoir completely
  • Disinfect the system. See the System Disinfection Guide for details
  • Disassemble the system. Follow the assembly guide, only in reverse order
  • Pack the parts together in a box, label the box, and store the box safely
Author: Tom Pfotzer
I'm a retired I.T. worker who runs a farm. Like many of us, I'm trying to figure out how to respond to the slow-motion environmental and economic collapse we're engulfed in. I want to work with people who understand what's going on and are ready to do something about it.

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