Are you considering foregoing traditional soil-based gardening and transitioning to “modern” hydroponics systems? If so, then understanding the basics of NFT (Nutrient Film Technique) is essential. NFT hydroponic systems are optimal for achieving an abundant crop in a fraction of the time it would take with conventional methods.
In this post, we will provide an overview on what is NFT and how can it be used in your hydroponic system to get maximum results!
What Is NFT And How Does It Work In A Hydroponics System
NFT, or Nutrient Film Technique, is a hydroponic system which uses a shallow stream of water enriched with nutrients to constantly provide plants with essential nutrients and aeration. This technique was developed in the 1970s, and has since been used successfully for growing plants in any climate or environment.
In an NFT system, nutrient-rich solutions are pumped into plastic channels that are designed specifically to control the depth of the solution and consequently optimize oxygen as well as nutrient availability for roots. The channels have downward slopes so that gravity can help draw the solution through the channel. There should not be too much pressure at one point in order to avoid clogging of the small channels.
The constant flow of the nutrient-rich solution is controlled by a timer, usually set for 15 minutes every hour. This way the plant roots get exposed to sufficient amounts of nutrients and oxygen, allowing them to absorb what they need from the water solution as it passes through.
The NFT system is also known for its low-maintenance requirements and efficient use of space; plants can be grown in a much smaller area than other hydroponic systems due to their close proximity to the water source. Additionally, since no growing medium is used, there are fewer clogs or blockages that can occur in many other systems.
Benefits Of Using NFT In A Hydroponics System
Increased crop yield: Hydroponic systems can provide plants with all the nutrients they need, resulting in a higher yield than traditional soil-based methods. NFT increases this further by ensuring that each plant gets an even amount of water and nutrients, leading to healthier growth and greater yields.
Reduced risk of disease: As no soil is involved in hydroponic systems, there is much less risk of pests and diseases affecting plants. With nutrient film technique (NFT), the constant flow of water helps to flush away any bacteria or fungi which may be present, reducing the chances of infection and keeping plants healthy for longer.
Energy efficiency: NFT uses very little energy compared to other forms of hydroponic systems, as it relies solely on gravity to move the nutrient-rich solution around. This makes it much more energy efficient than other methods and can help to reduce your overall electricity costs.
Flexible space: With NFT systems, you can easily adjust the height of each tube to suit your growing needs. This means that even if your plants are in different stages of growth, you can still accommodate them all in one system and manage them effectively.
Cost savings: NFT systems are far less expensive to install and maintain than many other forms of hydroponics, making them an ideal choice for anyone on a budget. Furthermore, because they use gravity instead of pumps, you’ll save money on electricity costs too.
How To Set Up An NFT Hydroponics System
Once you have all the materials you need, it is time to assemble your NFT hydroponics system. You will want to begin by selecting an appropriate location for your system. The location should be in an area with good lighting and ventilation, as well as access to a water source.
Next, install the troughs where you will grow the plants. These are usually made from a plastic material that is safe for use in hydroponic systems. Make sure that each trough has adequate drainage holes and space for aeration of the growing medium.
Fill each trough with a suitable growing medium such as perlite, vermiculite or coco coir. The medium must be free-draining so that excess water can drain away quickly. Add the nutrients and water to reach the correct levels for your plants.
Now install the NFT pipes required for your system. These should be made from a food-safe material such as PVC or polyethylene, and each pipe should have a series of small holes along its length to allow for uniform distribution of nutrients throughout the entire growing area. Install the pumps that will keep these pipes circulating at an ideal rate for optimal plant growth.
Finally, add your plants to the troughs and connect them to their respective NFT pipes via tubing or other irrigation systems. Make sure that they are firmly attached so they don’t become dislodged in the event of any water pressure changes.
Tips For Maintaining An NFT Hydroponics System
- Monitor the pH and nutrient levels of the water regularly. Test it at least once a week to ensure that it remains within the optimal range for your chosen plants.
- Check the temperature of your hydroponic system daily. Most vegetables will grow best in temperatures between 75 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, while fruit-bearing plants prefer slightly cooler temperatures.
- Change out your nutrient solution every two weeks or as necessary based on testing results. This ensures that your plants are getting all of the nutrients they need for healthy growth, but also prevents excess buildup of minerals and other salts which can lead to reduced yields.
- Regularly check your lighting setup to make sure nothing is malfunctioning or not providing adequate coverage for all of your plants.
- Prune or trim your plants as needed to keep them healthy and promote air circulation around each one. This will also help to prevent overcrowding, which can lead to reduced yields and poor health.
- Check the growing medium of your system frequently for signs of mold or other pests that may be present. If you spot any problems, take immediate action to address them before they spread throughout the system.
In conclusion, NFT hydroponic systems are a great option for those looking to grow their own crops. The ease and simplicity of this type of hydroponic system make it an excellent choice for novice farmers and experienced growers alike. Not only does this method offer precise control over pH and nutrient levels, but it also promotes healthier crop production with minimal effort. With these points in mind, it makes sense why so many people have turned to NFT hydroponics for their home growing needs.