NFT is a reliable form of hydroponics that continuously passes a shallow stream of water through a set of gullies, soaking a spreader mat along its way. Rockwool cubes sit on top of this spreader mat where the roots of plants are able to uptake as much water and nutrients with the upper portions of the root having access to air for its oxygen requirements.
Nutrient Film Technique NFT
The Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) is a re-circulating form of active hydroponics - It’s an extremely popular and is used in both hobbyist and commercial operations as the technique scales up or down easily. Salad crops like microgreens are regularly grown using NFT due to the fast, strong growth. This system can complete a cycle much faster than soil so many more complete seed to harvest cycles can be accomplished in a set timeframe.
NFT relies on a pump to circulate water from the reservoir through the delivery tube where it squirts on to a spreader mat that sits in a series of gullies, ensuring an even spread of water/nutrient solution. The nutrient solution slowly percolates down the top nft tray under the power of gravity where it returns to the reservoir to circulate again.
You’ll need to check the pH and EC of the nutrient solution on a daily basis to keep the system in balance - if pH or EC fluctuate out of optimal levels, plant health can suffer. Once you’ve become accustomed to your nft system, you’ll have more of an idea of the amount of pH and EC drift over time - you’ll be able to leave your plants as long as your variables are within safe limits. The speed these variables drift depends on the type, size and number of plants in the system and can change as the the plants nutritional requirements change throughout a cycle.
NFT can be a very heavy yielding method of hydroponic production with unparalleled speed of growth but it has very little defence against problems in the system as there is little medium to provide buffering. In the event of a pump failure, plants can quickly become dehydrated. This is very unlikely in a new system but if your systems been running 24 hours a day for a while the pump is increasingly likely to fail. We recommend you keep a spare pump so in the event of a failure you can be up and running as quickly as possible.
If your growing anything larger than micro-greens or lettuce, make sure you combine your NFT system with a type of plant support - Nets work well in tents and they have the added bonus of making your crop more uniform which should increase yields because all plants will receive the same amount of light. We also recommend the use of a form of peroxide in your reservoir to keep it sterile and reduce the likelihood of infectious diseases.
If you’re unsure of the exact requirements for your space or plant type, get in touch with our specialist team who can advise you on the best NFT system for your budget.