NFT stands for nutrient film technique – it involves a thin, steady stream of nutrient enriched water to flow across the bottom portion of a plants roots, allowing the constant supply of water, nutrients and oxygen. Making it the perfect conditions for growing indoors.
NFT is a great option for growers looking to grow a medium to large number of plants. This is because, with the use of only a single pump to feed water into the system, water naturally drains down the tube feeding a huge number of plants. This water is then collected at the end to go back into the reservoir where it is then pumped through once again on an endless cycle.
What are the benefits of NFT?
The water within an NFT system is completely contained within the troughs and reservoir, and not exposed to the hot sun or grow lights above, the only water loss that happens is through the perspiration from the plant leaves. This therefore helps to conserve water.
NFT systems do not need high-powered pumps to run smoothly, and because th water is blocked off from the direct heat of the sun or grow lights, it does not take much to keep the water from getting hot, which means there’s no need for water chillers.
Many plants can be connected and fed using only one small pump.
Water is pumped up to the beginning of the NFT trough at a trickle rate, it then follows the pull of gravity down the trough which can be extremely long as is the case with large greenhouses. Because these systems use gravity to trickle the water across the roots, it does not matter how long the water travels before re-entering the reservoir below. This means a very large number of plants can be fed off the same pump size.
What to keep in mind when building your NFT system
NFT systems can be built at home using simple materials, when designing your NFT system there are a few things to consider.
What crop are you planning on growing?
Some plants such as tomatoes and other herbs can have extensive root systems which may grow to clog your pipes. For these, it is beneficial to use larger troughs or tubes.
How many plants are you planning on growing?
NFT systems can accommodate many plants in the same system. A common method of fitting many plants into the same system with a single pump is to incorporate. Tiered system. Each section of pipe or tray will drain off into another one going the opposite direction in a zigzag pattern. This has the added benefit of improving the efficiency of the lights used to reach the plants below it.