Run to Waste

Last updated: November 22, 2021

What Does Run to Waste Mean?

Run to waste (RTW) is a common horticulture term that simply means irrigation is applied to the plant until it moves through and out of the root zone and is then disposed of or used elsewhere in the garden.

In a run-to-waste system, the water or nutrients are not recirculated or recycled for reuse later. Therefore, the run-to-waste system is the opposite of a recirculating system.

Run to waste is a simple irrigation system. It can be used by flowing water through soil or another growing medium, or it can be used hydroponically.


Maximum Yield Explains Run to Waste

The run-to-waste irrigation system is relatively easy to set up an operate, but it does require that the grower disposes of the water or nutrients after they have flowed around the plant’s root system. In this sense, it is not as affordable as other types of systems where nutrients are recirculated and fully used up by the plants.

Generally, a fully functioning run-to-waste irrigation system depends on a drip irrigation method that utilizes timers to slowly deliver the solution to the plant’s root system. The drip system paired with a timer reduces the amount of waste water present.

The benefit of a run-to-waste irrigation system is that the plant’s roots rarely suffer from any form of root rot because they are never exposed to prolonged saturated soil or other type of growing medium. The fragile roots of the plant also never burn from excessive nitrogen exposure because the water-laced nutrients flow past the plant’s roots and never remain in contact for a prolonged length of time.

The run-to-waste system also aids the plant’s roots in flushing out unwanted nutrients or harmful contaminants. The pH around the plant will also not dramatically fluctuate when run to waste is used.


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