NFT system or the nutrient film technique is one of the most versatile and popular hydroponics systems. You will find it to be similar to the Ebb and Flow system, which is another hydroponics system. Both the systems work on a similar principle. You may be wondering, what? Well, that is what we are about to let you know. Thus, moving ahead, both systems use a pump for delivering aerated and fertilized water to a growth tray. There is also a drain pipe for recycling unused solutions rich in nutrients.
The only difference: In NFT, the nutrient-laden solution flows continuously over the plant’s roots. You accomplish this step with the help of gravity.
NFT System : The Set-Up and Design
By now, you know that NFT comprises a system in which you place the plants in respective containers in a growth tray. This tray is separated from the tank reservoir. For this system, you fix the grow tray in a slanted position. It is slightly slanted, but the mild slant facilitates the constant flow of nutrients across the tray’s bottom. You will find a thin nutrient solution film that gets created and flows over the roots of the plants.
Thing to know: The nutrient solution drains back into the reservoir tank, where an air stone oxygenates the reservoir water.
Thing to do: Oxygenating the reservoir solution is a must because the NFT system requires lesser maintenance and oversight than other techniques.
NFT System : How To Build One?
There are more ways than one to design an NFT system. Every design depends on the space you possess and the plants you desire to grow, besides other concerns. However, every system must have the following:
You need a nutrient solution that includes manganese, iron, sulfur, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen. The others include zinc, nickel, chlorine, boron, and zinc.
The NFT system uses NFT channels or tubes rather than trays. These channels help in housing the growing media and plants. You can opt for the UPVC pipes mainly because you can buy them easily. With net pots and a hole saw, you are good to go.
Pro tip: When buying or building an NFT system, it is essential to consider the channels’ length. Extremely long channels can be detrimental because plants lying closest to the water source will get a lot of nutrients. And, the plants at the end will get the least.
Make sure that the water pump is a simple one for your small system. Regardless of whether you are going to have a large-scale production or a commercial one, you need a heavy-duty pump.
For the tubing, you must get a dark or a black one. Remember to NOT get a clear one as clear tubing incites algae growth. It will be no fun to deal with such growth within your tube.
Thing to know: Opt for airline tubing, which will not give you any headache. Keep in mind that there is no such difference in quality or price.
You need an air stone to create tiny oxygen bubbles in the hydroponics tank. These bubbles will disperse the dissolved oxygen more widely all through the system. Later, the air pump will push the oxygen bubbles through the system.
You need an air pump for oxygenating the reservoir’s water. NFT lets in lots of air in the tubes and channels, and thus, it is crucial.
You need a high-quality reservoir to have a rock-solid nutrient film system. If you are choosing a plastic reservoir, then use plastic that is gardening-safe.
Growing medium is a material, other than soil on the spot, in which plants are grown such as net pot.
How Does The NFT System grow plants?
NFT or the nutrient film technique, is a hydroponics system that farmers use to grow all kinds of crops. This method is quite popular amidst home hydroponics and commercial farmers for multiple reasons. For one thing, it works astonishingly well! That is because the nutrient water is not recaptured or released in intervals; rather it flows constantly through channels.
In this system, crops sit on an enclosed channel’s small openings, also called trays. Pumps help to push the nutrient water from the reservoir into the channels. Since the channels are placed at an angle, gravity attracts the water down through the drain. The water goes back into the reservoir from the same drain so that it can be used again.
Thing to know: Very little water gets released through trays, otherwise, the roots may end up drowning or rotting.
Parting thoughts Of NFT System
NFT is perfect for lightweight plants that require less support. Thus, you can grow as many leafy greens as you want. You can also grow perennial plants like strawberries, kale, lettuce, etc. This system is an active one, meaning it uses moving parts to function, for example, pumps. The best thing is that the thin film of nutrient water permits the plants to be well-watered and not soaked. The thinness keeps the roots dry and yet allows access to O2 in the air. If you are thinking of NFT, then we say go for it because it allows for low nutrient and water consumption, besides minimizing the risks of localized groundwater contamination.