Nutrient Flow Technique (NFT) Explained
The nutrient flow technique is also called nutrient film technique or NFT. This is one of the more popular types of hydroponics growing techniques. It’s very similar to the other popular system known as ebb and flow. Both types use a pump that delivers fertilized water to the grow container, with drainage in the bottom to remove the unused solution. This solution is recycled and reused so there is no waste.
This is also one of the more versatile hydroponics systems that you can get, as you can add to your garden easily, without having to buy extra bulky equipment to accommodate more plants. This system is also great for when you want to increase your plant yields but don’t want to add a lot of extra effort.
How Does An NFT System Work?
NFT is similar to your ebb and flow hydroponics technique, but with a few differences. Both techniques make use of a water pump that delivers water and the nutrient solution to all plants.
But the main difference is that in NFT, the gravity will guide the water back into the main reservoir where the solution is kept, and then back again. It’s constantly flowing, whereas in ebb and flow it’s on a timed cycle just a few times a day.
The nutrient flow system is an active system, so it does require moving parts or electrical equipment to make it run. There are other similar systems known as wick or Kratky, which are easier to build and maintain, but they don’t offer optimal growing conditions like NFT or ebb and flow do.
How Can I Make An NFT System Successful?
The main factor is ensuring that you set up the nutrient flow to handle the plants’ roots adequately. A small amount of nutrients and water will be pushed through the channel. This not only helps get nutrients to the plants, but gives a chance for the plants to dry out a bit so they don’t drown.
Another factor you must consider is in choosing the right types of plants for this setup. This means plants that don’t need a ton of support. Lettuce, basil and other herbs, and salad greens are perfect for NFT. Types of plants not recommended for the nutrient flow technique are tomatoes, cucumbers, or other types of flowering plants. For them, other hydroponics techniques are better.
What Are the Benefits of NFT?
If you’re wanting to build a hydroponics system in your home that is relatively easy to maintain and low cost, nutrient technique may be right for you. It’s also flexible and modular, so you can expand on it when you’re ready.
With NFT you’ll also require less water and the plants won’t need a lot of nutrients. Plants don’t require a great amount of growing media either. The system is simple to set up, and if you need to take it apart to clean, it’s simple too.
You’ll better be able to see how well your plants are growing, and how the root health is doing. NFT will keep salt from building up in the root’s region.
The water and nutrient solution keeps on circulating, so there will be less chance for your groundwater to become contaminated.
Are There Any Downsides I Should Be Aware of?
NFT requires electricity to keep your pump going. If your home experiences power outages on a regular basis you may not wish to deal with constant dead crops. It’s also important to grow the right types of plants. You’ll be setting yourself up for failure if you’re inserting plants that have a larger tap-root system. And as we mentioned above, this type of system isn’t for flowering plants that need a lot of maintenance.
How Easy Is NFT to Set Up?
NFT is simple to set up. You can put it into almost any size of space. You’ll start with an airline tubing, air pump, air stones, grow medium, net pots, reservoir, NFT channel, nutrient, and a water pump. The reservoir looks like a big black box but it’s where your water and nutrients are stored. It’s placed beneath your grow channels. The pump is used to pump water upwards into the channels. It's important to use a hydroponics reservoir made for gardening, as some plastics are toxic to plants and if you’re growing food, you don’t want to be exposed to that either.
Any NFT Growing Tips I Should Know?
The number one tip is to pay attention to your NFT garden and make adjustments as needed. In this set up, your plants’ roots are more exposed than in other methods.
If you have any questions about which NFT kit to buy for your growing purposes then please reach out to us here at Kushy. We look forward to hearing from you.