Here at Hydrobuilder, we carry the best NFT hydroponic system selection online - especially for commercial growers looking to set up an entire facility in one place.
Our complete hydroponic systems are sourced from reputable brands only, so when you shop at Hydrobuilder, you know you’re getting quality! On top of that, we offer world class service you’ll never find at another garden supercenter, and especially not online.
Here is everything you need to know about NFT Hydroponics, and how to choose the right system for you.
What is a NFT Hydroponic System?
NFT, or nutrient film technique, is just a style of hydroponic growing characterized by a very shallow reservoir, where water and nutrients are sent to the plants via a water pump.
Many growers start their hydro journey with the nutrient film technique because it’s so straightforward and yet very effective.
At first glance, and to the untrained eye, an NFT hydroponic system doesn’t look much different than an ebb and flow system. But there are some key differences between the two that set them apart.
How Does An NFT Hydroponic System Work?
Typically, an NFT hydroponic system will house plants in a flood table, which is typically angled to help the nutrient solution drain back down into the reservoir below. Most often, there will be an air stone & pump involved to help oxygenate the nutrient solution and keep your roots breathing while suspended in moisture.
We mentioned previously that this style is very similar to ebb & flow (or flood and drain) hydroponics with one key difference: That is that the flow of nutrients is constant in an NFT system.
Benefits & Drawbacks Of Nutrient Film Technique Hydroponics
The main benefits of growing under the nutrient film technique hydroponics strategy is ease of use. Unlike ebb and flow, you don’t have to worry about setting up a timer for your pump, since it runs 24/7. There are also fewer working parts than a DWC system.
Furthermore, you will consume much less water/nutrients than other styles of growing (Especially soil) because the solution drains back into the reservoir. It will recirculate, and eventually need to be changed out entirely. However, consumption is still much lower.
Another benefit is that the pH remains relatively uniform, while preventing salt build-up since there is always a flow.
However, there are some drawbacks to NFT hydroponics as well. If something goes wrong and the flow of nutrients stops, your roots will dry out quickly. Another issue is that plants with large taproots, such as carrots, are not well suited for this style.
What Type Of Plants Can Be Grown In An NFT Hydroponics System?
NFT Hydroponics is best used when growing crops that are smaller in size and quicker in grow period. Technically, most anything you grow in soil can be grown with this style.
But to get the most out of your NFT system and stay efficient, stick to crops such as lettuce and basil. However, a complete list of crops that you may want to try include:
- Most herbs
How Do You Set Up An NFT Hydroponic System?
If you want to build your own NFT Hydroponic system using various hydro components, it’s actually very easy to do! We already mentioned the main components of any NFT system:
It’s just a matter of grabbing these different pieces, and ensuring they all fit together. If you have questions about sizing your equipment, don’t hesitate to reach out to our experts!
Recommended Flow Rate & Angle For NFT Hydroponics
The two key things you need to get right to ensure success with your NFT system is the flow rate of nutrients, and the slope of your flood table/grow tray.
We recommend a flow rate between ¼ gallon to ½ gallon a minute. This will vary based on the age of your plants and what exactly you’re growing, of course. For example, seedlings/clones don’t need that much - you can stick to the lower end of this range for them. As they grow into larger plants, simply increase the flow rate to the top end of the spectrum.
As for the angle you set up your flood table, we recommend a slope of 1:30 or 1:40. That means for every inch of horizontal length, you’ll need an inch of vertical sloping.
How To Use A NFT Hydroponic System
If you want to learn how to use an NFT hydroponic system, we recommend you start by checking out our hydroponics 101 guide.
It teaches you everything you need to know about hydroponic growing in general, such as differences between soil vs hydro, hydroponic system care, nutrient solution changeouts/testing, and much, much more.
Final Thoughts On NFT Hydroponics
Not sure this is the right style for you? Can’t find a system you like? We recommend checking out our year end review of the best hydroponic systems to find a fit for you.
If you still have questions, please give us a call at 888-815-9763 and we’ll get you set up and growing right!