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Dookie69
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Thanks 420 for setting up a new forum category for this specific method of plant irrigation.

For those who don’t know, the Autopot system uses gravity to get water or nutrient mix to the bottom-feed Autopot tray from a central reservoir. Through wicking, the water creeps up the expanded clay substrate and into the coco or soil. Each plant uses just what it needs, and the more a plant drinks, the more frequently the Aqua Valve allows new water in. If you want to learn more about the aqua valve, go to the Autopot website. The four main advantages of the system is that it is self-watering, the reservoir allows you to take a long weekend here and there, there is very little waste and finally there is no risk of overwatering, there is almost no wasted nutrients since there is no water till runoff. Not relying on water pumps is also a reassuring place to be.

The system also comes with its own set of challenges of course, which hopefully we can discuss in this forum.

Although this thread has been placed under “Indoor/Hydroponics” since I think this is the most popular application of the system, it can be used in greenhouses (the surface must be flat and level), with organics in soils and with both auto’s and photo’s.

Please join the thread if you use Autopots in any way or form.

My own combination is as such: Salt based nutes (TA trio); Autoflowers; Freedom Farms F1 (Amended Coco-perlite).

I’ve just completed a run and have spent the day cleaning the grow room, and stripping the coco, clay pebbles etc out of the pots.

I have learned a few tips over the last 18 months spent growing which I’d like to share as time goes on.

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Picked up a Autopot setup myself not too long ago now. So far it has been a game changer for me. Just the ability to shave down hours of watering and feeding into a quick 20-minute session for all my plants. 

I also went for the airdomes for all the 15L Autopots I use. I started growing cannabis in the beginning using DWC so the ability to mix the best of both worlds while still using a solid medium was too much to pass up. I am very impressed with the system so far. 

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Tip #1: If you plan on LST or any other process that required tethering to the pot, drill a series of holes along the outer rim of the pot. Do this before you fill the pot!

I considered drilling right through to the inner pot but this would cause leaks if the water were to reach those points before subsiding.
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Tip #2: If you plan on using an air dome in the pot, fix a small cable tie in one of the corner holes to hold the air line nice and snug to the pot. This reduces the chances it getting accidentally caught and pulled out of the air dome, it can’t be reattached without emptying the whole pot which will surely cause the plant some super-stress.

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Just a quick note for the organic growers, you can do organic with autopots with great results, infact there's some debate weither or not organic in autopots grow faster and bigger than synthetics, from my previous grow comparing them both it definitely seemed to be the case but I won't go into much detail at this time (there's some articles on the net already covering this) So there's two main ways of using organic with autopots, 1. adding layers of ammendments throughout the soil and than  top feeding when needed (I suggest turning the system off for a day so not to flood the trays) or 2. using liquid nutes in the tank with bigger valves (valve 5s). For op growth I would suggest investing in bigger valves regardless of what method you use and the new 20L fabric pots. The autopots have made my grows a "sit back and enjoy" vibe. Only going into the room once in awhile to check for any leaks or to top feed. 

Edited by Marzcanna
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I’m glad you brought up the bottom or top feed for the autopot. I see that as a solution to growing multiple strains on one reservoir. I’ve had it before where one strain goes into pre-flower faster than others… up to now I’ve had to decide on a compromise because it’s one reservoir for all. Now by top feeding the pre flower plants with a suitable nutrient ratio, the rest can catch up when ready…. Great idea.

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33 minutes ago, Dookie69 said:

I’m glad you brought up the bottom or top feed for the autopot. I see that as a solution to growing multiple strains on one reservoir. I’ve had it before where one strain goes into pre-flower faster than others… up to now I’ve had to decide on a compromise because it’s one reservoir for all. Now by top feeding the pre flower plants with a suitable nutrient ratio, the rest can catch up when ready…. Great idea.

You can even add taps to every line going into the trays so you can turn each tray off individually if needed without having to turn off the whole system 

Edited by Marzcanna
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I would like to know your thoughts on the use of Leca / Hydro balls with autopots, we know it's recommended by the autopots company, but there's alot of growers who don't use them at all and say plants grow just fine. I did use them on all my plants but one on my previous grow and didn't see any negative effects, this current grow I have not used them at all and again I don't see any negative effects, the plants seem to be growing as normal. So what's your guys thoughts

Edited by Marzcanna
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1 minute ago, Marzcanna said:

I would like to hear your thoughts on the use of Leca / Hydro balls with autopots, we know it's recommended by the autopots company, but there's alot of growers who don't use them at all and say plants grow just fine. I did use them on all my plants but one on my previous grow and didn't see any negative effects, this current grow I have not used them at all and again I don't see any negative effects, the plants seem to be growing as normal. So what your guys thoughts

I believe it's more for very aggressive plants or strains. The leca they recommend for you to put at the bottom of the pots is so that if the roots get too keen on space, you won't risk the drainage holes getting clogged. It's very beneficial for the system to be able to fully drain the pots before it feeds via the aquavalve again. As long as this is achieved, with or without leca, you should be good. 

In other words, as long as you're not using straight up clay, I think most mediums will be fine. I personally like using this technique because with the addition of the airdomes which I use, I feel the roots are getting the best of both worlds with a healthy medium to retain moisture, and the space at the bottom between the leca to suck up that good O2, plus never having to worry about drainage being an issue. However it's also important then to use the root control discs in the trays and the matrix sheet inside the pot to stop any dirt or dust getting past the leca and messing with the aquavalve. 

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I use a 5-6cm layer of Leca. I like the fact that it is a wick for the Coco, and it offers an aeration gap which I’m certain stops the pot from “sitting in water all the time”.
I’ve started recycling it for future grows, so it’s cost reduces par grow.
The roots love it, I find those fine white roots favouring the airdome and the Leca zone.

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Multilevel Autopot Trays?

I read somewhere that so long as all the trays are lower than the res, that a multilevel arrangement is possible, and very helpful for raising shorter plants to canopy level…

Anyone tried this?

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Excuse the crude drawing.

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3 hours ago, Dookie69 said:

Multilevel Autopot Trays?

I read somewhere that so long as all the trays are lower than the res, that a multilevel arrangement is possible, and very helpful for raising shorter plants to canopy level…

Anyone tried this?

I'm not sure why one would do this apart from maybe space considerations, but there is a fault in the drawing, I don't think you will ever be able to pipe through a tray/aquavalve without some serious thinking and alterations to the trays/aquavalve. You really can only go from reservoir to tray, and not from reservoir to a tray, and thorugh that tray to another tray. I really don't see that hapenning based on how the aquavalve system works. 

But if you're using the autopots as per normal and certain rows of trays are lower than others, but all still remain lower than the reservoir, the system will work. 

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Yes the usual piping is assumed, I should have mentioned that. It’s just an interesting “hypothetical” option, for example if you build a greenhouse over a set of steps, or a terrace, that you can use one reservoir to feed a number of autopots on different levels.

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7 hours ago, Ill_Evan said:

But if you're using the autopots as per normal and certain rows of trays are lower than others, but all still remain lower than the reservoir, the system will work. 

I think @Ill_Evan is right, in theory aslong as the res is higher than the pots it should work. If anyone is up for trying it that would be good info for anyone trying to create more space in their grow room

Edited by Marzcanna
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2 hours ago, Dookie69 said:

Yes the usual piping is assumed, I should have mentioned that. It’s just an interesting “hypothetical” option, for example if you build a greenhouse over a set of steps, or a terrace, that you can use one reservoir to feed a number of autopots on different levels.

Ok alright, I understand the layout now. 

Definitely go for it if it means you can comfortably have more plants at once 🤓

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Just for interest, how’s this Matrix Disc (sits at the bottom of the pot with the purpose of keeping bits of coco / soil away from the tray and the valve).
Such vigorous root growth even gets around the standard copper root-control disc, which is why I recommend the copper “pot-sock” for proper root control.

You can see where the airdome sits. The air domes get completely choked with fine white roots, they love the extra air.

Normally I re-use my Matrix Disc but this one is too far gone!

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  • 4 months later...

Been away for a while, got too busy to grow but back at it now. I can confirm that connected Autopots can be placed at different heights as long as the res is higher than all the pots.
My current grow had a rocky start with a lot of failed germinations, resulting in 3 plants being up to a month apart. So I was able to raise the younger plants closer to the lights while the older plant sat on the floor level.
I managed the different nute regimens by fitting taps to each tray and selectively hand feeding as needed, until they were all on the same feed.

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On 7/2/2022 at 8:18 AM, Dookie69 said:

My current grow had a rocky start with a lot of failed germinations

My bru this Winter has been absolutely balls for my clones and germinations. Glad you managed to get them level at the end, nice one :investigating

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