Nutrient film technique, or NFT for short, is the most scalable method of hydroponic gardening. Its simplicity makes it popular for both hobby hydroponic gardening at home and on a commercial scale. NFT hydroponics systems are usually set up to grow many plants at a time.
How Do NFT hydroponic Systems Work?
Nutrient film technique usually consists of tubes of channels side by side in rows. The rows are slightly tilted, so gravity pulls nutrients the length of the pipe, draining down the opposite side and back down into the reservoir. The Pump is always on, constantly running the nutrient solution through the system.
Plants can be secured in inserts or in grow medium. Roots dangle in the channel allowing them access to oxygen and the nutrient solution flowing at the bottom of the channel. Since this method runs nutrient solution through the system 24/7, there is no need for timers.
What Plants Grow Best in NFT Hydroponic Systems?
While you can use nutrient film technique to grow about anything but root vegetables, it works best for leafy greens and small plants. I enjoy growing different types of lettuce, spinach, and herbs in my NFT systems.
NFT systems do not work well for large plants, especially heavy ones. The tubes or channels that make up the system to not provide a lot of room for a large root system to grow.
Too much root can slow the rate of the nutrient solution flowing through. Larger heavy plants could cause the channels to sag, having a negative impact on the nutrient flow as well.
Different Types of NFT Hydroponic Systems for Hobby Hydroponic Gardening
There are several different ways you can set up an NFT hydroponic system. Here are some of the common NFT hydroponic system designs for hobby hydroponic gardening.
The stack NFT hydroponic system
The stackable hydroponic system can grow the most in the least amount of space.
The slanted wall NFT hydroponic system
These slanted NFT hydroponic systems work well in areas with less space. You would usually use this system when you trying to put your garden against a wall.
The smaller conventional NFT hydroponic system
This is a smaller and cheaper version of commercial NFT hydroponic systems.
NFT hydroponic wall system
Being able to attach your NFT hydroponic system to the wall will save you a bunch of floor space. It also looks pretty cool.
Hobby hydroponic system with commercial quality
If you’re looking for a real deal NFT hydroponic system, check out Cropking. This is a heavy-duty NFT hydroponic system is a smaller version of a commercial system. It’s the real deal.
Importance NFT Hydroponic Slope And Flow Rate
When using NFT it is important to pay attention to both the flow rate of the nutrient solution through the channel and the slope of the channel. There are a few variables that come into play when determining the best flow rate and slope.
Too much nutrient solution flowing through the channel and your system could overflow or the roots may not get enough oxygen. Not enough and your plant’s roots might not be able to reach the solution.
NFT hydroponics is a great method for growing leafy greens and herbs. Its simple design makes it easy for hobby and commercial growers to grow an abundance of produce at one time.
October 13, 2018 at 5:38 pm
I would like to know if I can use your diagram of Nutrient Film Technique in a demonstration speech I am doing for a middle school and high school speech and debate competition. Would you be willing to let me use the diagram? I would like to cite it properly as well.
October 15, 2018 at 1:30 pm
Hey Thomas, I’m happy my diagram can be of assistance and you are more than welcome to use it! I will send it to your email.
February 19, 2019 at 4:44 pm
Can you plsease provide a detailed list of materials and tools one needs to setup a nutrient film technique hyproponic system.
February 20, 2019 at 9:08 pm
I don’t currently have one, but I plan on putting together some detailed plans together here in the near future.
April 1, 2019 at 6:58 pm
I have a large area in a barn that can be heated. 1600-2000 square feet with a 8’ ceiling. Can I scale up a NFT system to fill this space?
How many plants can you do with a 50 gallon tank?
April 28, 2019 at 9:54 pm
That can be made into a great space for an NFT hydroponic system. As far as the tank goes, it depends on your setup but I believe for a system that takes up 2000 sq feet your going to need a larger reservoir. I would actually recommend breaking the system up into sections with each section having its own reservoir. That way if something goes wrong, it doesn’t spread or affect your whole operation.
April 15, 2019 at 1:23 pm
A company selling hydroponic equipment stated that do not support NFT due to too much disease. Would you agree with this statement?
April 28, 2019 at 9:40 pm
I think that everyone has a method that they prefer over others. There are many commercial operations that use NFT systems to grow their vegetables, mainly lettuce. If you’re growing a larger scale it is a good idea to break up your hydroponic systems so it doesn’t run off a single reservoir. That way if a disease does pop up, it doesn’t spread as easily to all of your plants.