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Hydroponic How-To: Nutrient Flow Technique

Young cannabis plants being grown hydroponically.

Cultivation

Hydroponic How-To: Nutrient Flow Technique

The Nutrient Flow Technique (NFT) is widely used in commercial operations because it is completely scalable and provides amazing results. You can expand your NFT system to cover acres of growing area if so inclined, but it is best to start small and get a hang of it first.

The basic idea is that a nutrient solution constantly flows through a flat-bottomed tray or a wide, round pipe (PVC plumbing pipes work excellent for this). The nutrient solution is allowed to flow over the roots of the plant, delivering the nutrient efficiently.

Because the roots are sitting in fast flowing water, a large amount of oxygen is delivered to the roots, helping facilitate their growth (and ultimately the growth of your plants). Most NFT growers also aerate the solution using an aquarium stone in the reservoir to further oxygenate it before it flows through the roots.

No growing medium is used, so the roots expand at a phenomenal rate. Amazing growth follows. Some common (fully legal) crops that are grown using this technique in a commercial setting are tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, zucchini and even pumpkins.

While the advantage of this system is its phenomenal growth and infinite scalability, the foremost drawback is complication. To implement this technique, you need a high flow pump, an aerator and a sometimes complicated network of piping or trays. The results are spectacular, but many feel the complication and level of work aren’t worth it.

Another drawback to this method is the cost of setting the thing up – the cost of the pump, aerator, and pipes add up quickly. It’s also very unforgiving to mistakes or oversights, which will cause headaches later on.

nutrient-flow-graph

Have you tried NFT in your grow room? Tell us about your results in the comments below!

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. chris

    May 20, 2014 at 9:58 am

    “It’s also very unforgiving to mistakes or oversights”
    I started growing back in the 90’s, using NFT and some cuttings given to me.
    For about 7 or 8 years all was good, then it suddenly wasn’t…
    For almost two years I tried to work out where my crops had gone – unsuccessfully! In the end i went to compost.
    I still now grow in compost which is always reliable, not as good a yield, but definately more reliable.
    To this day i don’t know why my NFT mucked up – i would love to find out though as i regularly used to hit the magic gram per watt using it, and i can’t get anywhere near in compost.

    • Big Kahuna

      October 13, 2014 at 8:40 pm

      Chris I am just starting out but did you try some h2O2 peroxide it should cut the muck the trick would be getting the correct dosage I would start with about 1oz per qt.

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