There are a lot of hydroponic systems that you can use to grow high-quality plants or vegetables, but the NFT (Nutrient Film Technique) system maybe the most popular.
In this NFT Grow Guide you’ll learn:
- What an NFT system is
- Why an NFT system is a great choice of system to use
- How to set up an NFT System
What is an NFT System?
No NFT Grow Guide would be complete without an explanation about what the system is and how it works.
NFT stands for Nutrient Film Technique. It’s named this because the system uses a thin film of nutrient solution to provide the plants with the nutrients they need to grow.
It works by pushing a nutrient solution from the reservoir into a tube or tank underneath the grow chamber which holds the plant roots. The water travels through this tank so that every plant root touches the film and receives the nutrients it carries.
The channel will also become quite humid so the roots can absorb moisture that is generated by that humidity.
Once the water carrying the film has passed each root, the remaining nutrients fall back into the reservoir to be recycled.
The nutrient film technique is a very simple but very effective hydroponic system that will make sure your plants have everything they need to grow quickly and to a high standard.
How to Set up an NFT System
A key part of any NFT Grow Guide is advice about how to set up the hydroponic system so you can use it.
The things you’ll need to set up the system are:
- A reservoir for the nutrient solution
- Tubing to carry the water
- A water pump
- A grow chamber for your plants
- A channel for the roots to hang into
You begin by putting your seedlings in soil in cubic pots so their roots can grow. Once this has happened you transfer them into the grow chamber and fill your reservoir with water and nutrient solution.
Place the grow chamber over another tube or container which will act as the channel (where the roots dangle into the water.) Make sure the channel is slightly raised at one end so the water can flow in a downward motion. Then attach a tube from either side of the reservoir to either side of the channel and install a pump in the reservoir.
The pump is used to pump water rich in nutrient solution into the channel, and it will then naturally fall back down into the reservoir to be recycled. You can also use a spreader sheet if required to help spread the water more evenly across the channel as it flows.
It’s a very easy and cheap to set up but is a very effective form of hydroponics.
Benefits of using an NFT Hydroponic System
I’m going to discuss the benefits of using this system later in this NFT Grow Guide but I wanted to provide a quick outline for those of us who like to skim read.
- Quick and easy to set-up
- High-quality growth
- Plants tend to grow quickly
- Easy to clean and maintain
- Inexpensive to make and run the system
NFT Grow Guide 101: Specifications of the Water Channel
As I wanted my NFT Grow Guide to be beginner-friendly, it’s important to highlight the technical specifications that you might not be aware of.
It’s recommended that you flow up to 1/2 a gallon of water per minute through the water channel, but obviously this will depend on its length. The depth of the stream running through the channel should be less than an inch – this ensures there is a high concentration of the nutrient solution in the water and also allows you to maintain a good level of oxygen in the channel.
The ideal temperature is about 69-70 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s important to regulate the temperature because the oxygen levels will drop if the water is too hot so investing in a good thermostat is crucial.
You should clean your reservoir regularly and replace the nutrient solution regularly also – at least once a fortnight – to help each plant grow. However, a smaller reservoir may require a new nutrient solution at least once a week.
Aim for a pH scale of around 6 and be sure to regulate this every few days using a pH Meter to make sure it hasn’t changed too much. Don’t worry if it’s changed by a minor amount as this is normal and you shouldn’t need to adjust it more than once or twice a week.
What Type of Plants Should I Grow with NFT?
A lot of commercial companies use the NFT system to grow vegetables because it can help them grow faster whilst also saving water – due to the cyclical nature of the nutrient solution.
When creating the NFT grow guide, I didn’t want to limit myself to talking about individual growing because I feel the large corporations using this method show how popular it is.
A lot of people, including myself, consider this system to be most beneficial when used to grow smaller, quick growing plants (such as lettuce) because you can grow a lot of plants at once. This allows you to have a much larger yield than with other systems.
NFT Grow Guide for Vegetables and Plants
Before you transfer your produce into the NFT hydroponic system, you should let them develop in cubic net pots so they can grow large and expansive roots. After all, having good roots is a key part of a successful NFT system.
Once they’ve developed strong roots you can transfer the plants into the grow chamber. The NFT system will work best if the plant roots are dangling in a separate water tank below the chamber (see diagram above.)
Remember to make the water channel quite spacious so your plants roots can grow further. It’s also important not fill it with water – it should be a thin stream – so that the roots can also receive enough oxygen.
Growing vegetable plants with an NFT system is very popular because they can grow so quickly giving you a lot of high-quality produce in a lot less time.
NFT Grow Guide: A Summary
If you follow the advice in this NFT Grow Guide you’ll be able to set up and maintain a system that you can use to develop exceptional plants or vegetables. As they’re so inexpensive to build and run, an NFT system is a great investment for any grower serious about developing a brilliant produce.