Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)

Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) is a hydroponic system that involves a thin film or stream of nutrient-rich water flowing over the plant roots. In an NFT system, plants are typically grown in long channels or troughs that are slightly sloped to allow a continuous flow of nutrient solution.

Here’s how the Nutrient Film Technique works:

  1. Setup: Plants are placed in small baskets or net pots, and their roots hang down into the nutrient solution-filled channels. The channels are usually made of plastic or other materials that are light and durable.
  2. Flow of Nutrient Solution: The nutrient solution is continuously pumped from a reservoir to the highest end of the channel. The solution flows along the bottom of the channel in a thin film or stream, typically less than an inch deep. The slope of the channel allows the solution to flow slowly towards the lower end.
  3. Root Uptake: As the nutrient solution flows over the roots, the plant’s roots absorb the necessary water and nutrients directly from the film of solution. The roots are exposed to air in the channel, allowing for adequate oxygen exchange.
  4. Return to Reservoir: At the lower end of the channel, the nutrient solution is collected and returned to the reservoir. From there, it is recirculated back to the high end of the channel to repeat the cycle.

NFT systems require careful monitoring and adjustment of the nutrient solution flow rate to ensure a proper film thickness that adequately nourishes the plants. The flow rate needs to be balanced so that the roots receive sufficient nutrients and oxygen without being submerged or drying out.

NFT systems are popular in commercial hydroponics, and Hobby Grower due to their simplicity, efficiency, and suitability for growing leafy greens, herbs, and other small plants with shallow root systems. They are space-saving, conserve water, and provide plants with continuous access to nutrients. However, NFT systems may be more sensitive to power outages or pump failures compared to other hydroponic systems, as the roots rely on a constant flow of nutrient solution.