Nutrient Film Technique

This week Hydroponics 101 introduces NFT, or nutrient film technique. A hydroponic system capable of providing adequate water, nutrient, and oxygen resources to the plant’s root system. This particular hydro system is commonly utilized for various lettuce varieties and herbs, as well as cannabis.


Plastic tubing/channels, thin plastic tubing, growing medium/pots, nutrient water solution, reservoir, water pump, airstone,and air pump.

NFT systems use many of the same materials as wick systems, which we introduced to you last week. NFT systems still require an additional growing medium like wick systems. Typically a coarser medium, like clay rocks, can be utilized. Simply plant in a small netted pot with the growing medium, and insert into an opening at the top of your growing channel to begin. The plastic channel or tube will act as a growing tray, allowing roots to hang down freely, surrounded by air, and eventually reaching the small film of nutrient water solution.


NFT systems also require a reservoir to hold your supply of nutrient water solution. This particular technique requires a water pump to provide the plant’s roots with nutrient water solution. Simply place your water pump in your reservoir and attach thin plastic tubing onto it’s spout. Then place the other end of the tubing into the growing tube or channel. Be sure the nutrient water solution consistently provides a small film at the bottom of the growing channel. This constant flow will allow the roots to feed, but also obtain plenty of oxygen that’s readily available in the channel. To maintain this flow, the growing channel needs a nutrient water drain or return. The return site should be located at the opposite end of where the nutrient water enters. This high availability of nutrients, water, and oxygen to the roots, makes NFT systems more efficient than a simple wick system.

Although depletion of oxygen is a less common issue with NFT systems, Mainely Hydro grow specialists still recommend using an airstone and air pump in your reservoir. This will help to maintain high levels of dissolved oxygen in the nutrient water solution. Water flow interruptions are the biggest issue when it comes to NFT systems. Be it a power outage, outlet trouble, or broken pumps, a stop in the flow of nutrient water will cause plants distress. Plants experiencing nutrient water flow interruption or loss begin to wilt quickly. If you think ahead, and attach a small battery backup to the water and air pumps, you can minimize this issue.

NFT, a hydro system that boasts high efficiency for any size garden, yet still simple enough to create yourself at home. Join us next Green Thumb Thursday, where we introduce drip systems.

Posted on: March 31, 2016, by :