Growing Success with Nutrient Film Technique – NFT Mastery 

Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) is a hydroponic method where a thin film of nutrients flows over roots, providing a constant food supply.

Anne, a farmer I know, says it’s best for fast-growing greens.

When I tried NFT, I found she was right! 

Water constantly circles through shallow channels, delivering just what my herbs and lettuces need.

Without much work, my seedlings took off.

Within weeks, bountiful basil, cilantro and arugula filled the trays.

I was amazed how such a simple setup made my microgreens thrive.

If you want a low-effort way to get early harvests, see how NFT works its magic.

Keep reading to learn my easy steps!


What is Nutrient Film Technique?

Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) is a hydroponic cultivation method where a thin film of nutrient-rich water flows over plant roots, ensuring a continuous supply of essential nutrients. (1)

This precise and efficient nutrient delivery system optimizes plant growth in a controlled environment.

Understanding NFT Hydroponics

YouTube video
Source: Epic Gardening

What is Nutrient Film Technique (NFT)?

The NUTRIENT FILM TECHNIQUE or NFT is a type of hydroponic system that grew from innovations in soilless agriculture.

Dutch researchers perfected early versions in the 1960s, circulating water and nutrients to plant roots through NFT SYSTEMS.

NFT works by maintaining a THIN FILM of continuously-flowing NUTRIENT SOLUTION on an incline.

This FILM delivers water, oxygen, and nutrients to the PLANT ROOTS as they are exposed below.

Compared to soil and other hydroponics, NFT SYSTEMS are simpler with no medium for the roots to grow in besides the NUTRIENT FILM.

How NFT Systems Work

NFT SYSTEMS consist of three key parts – the GROW TRAY, RESERVOIR, and WATER PUMP. (2)

NFT CHANNELS form the base of the GROW TRAYS.

As the WATER PUMP circulates solution from the RESERVOIR, it flows slowly through these CHANNELS creating the characteristic NUTRIENT FILM.

The angle and flow RATE are tuned to maintain a constant FILM no deeper than a few millimeters.

This ensures the PLANT ROOTS remain completely submerged and supplied with oxygen and nutrients without sitting in pools of water.

Common crops like LEAFY GREENS thrive with their roots in the uninterrupted FILM.

Implementing NFT Systems

Nutrient Film Technique

Tools Needed for NFT Hydroponics

Setting up an NFT HYDROPONIC SYSTEM takes some key materials.

An AIR PUMP with an AIR STONE provides oxygen to roots in the channel.

A submersible WATER PUMP circulates nutrients.

NET POTS support plants over channels.

Tray materials like wood make durable CHANNELS.

Measuring tools help maintain proper FLOW RATE and levels.

Building smart ensures a ROOT SYSTEM stays where it should – the bottom of the CHANNELS!

Building a NFT System

Whether a beginner DIYer or seasoned gardener, NUTRIENT FILM TECHNIQUE offers many BENEFITS OF NUTRIENT FILM TECHNIQUE.

Here’s a simple step-by-step for creating your own low-cost system:

  1. Build or purchase grow trays with sloped channels to hold NFT HYDROPOIC media. Wood, plastic or other washable material works.
  2. Install a WATER PUMP in your RESERVOIR to circulate HYDROPONIC NUTRIENT up through the system.
  3. Add an AIR STONE connected to an airstone line to oxygenate roots.
  4. Place young plants in 4-inch NET POTS over channels. Space as needed for each type of LEAFY GREENS.
  5. Fill the reservoir with water and nutrients. Plug in pumps.
  6. Monitor your PLANT ROOTS and growth! Adjust FLOW RATES as plants mature.

Pros and Cons of NFT Hydroponics

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Advantages of NFT

1. Water Conservation

NFT systems use up to 90% LESS WATER than traditional soil gardening.

Water is constantly circulating and re-used rather than sitting in soil, where it can evaporate or drain away.

Proper FLOW RATE control is key to save water!

2. Oxygenation Benefits

An AIR STONE in the water supply bubbles fresh OXYGEN to the ROOT SYSTEMS.

This oxygen-rich environment helps plants grow STRONG and HEALTHY.

Their roots stay loose and frizzy instead of dense and tangled, improving nutrient absorption.

3. Enhanced Nutrient Absorption

Nutrients are in constant motion and directly touch plant ROOTS suspended in NET POTS above the flow channels.

With no competing soil organisms, plants can take up hydroponic NUTRIENT solutions with amazing efficiency.

Their growth rate is often faster than soil!

Challenges and Downsides

1. Maintenance Considerations

NFT systems require more hands-on care compared to soil.

Water level, pH, temperature, FLOW RATE and NUTRIENTS need monitoring.

Clogged emitters or leaks in tubing must be fixed promptly.

During power outages, a BACKUP SYSTEM preserves the water supply.

2. Overcoming Common Issues

Starting an NFT system takes patience.

Algae may grow on wet surfaces until plants mature.

Improper pH levels or nutrient strengths can cause leaf burn or yellowing until balanced.

To succeed with this method requires some trial and error fine-tuning.

But a BOUNTIFUL, FRESH HYDROPONIC GARDEN makes the effort worthwhile!

Plant Selection and Growth in NFT

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Ideal Plants for NFT Systems

When it comes to choosing which plants to GROW…

… in your NUTRIENT FILM TECHNIQUE (NFT) system, you’ll want to pick varieties…

… that are ideal for the unique flow conditions in this type of hydroponic production.

Certain FLOWERING and LEAFY GREENS thrive with the…

… continuous flow of water and NUTRIENTS across their roots.

For example, herbs like BASIL, CHIVES, and PARSLEY do very WELL because they have high NUTRIENT uptake.

Leafy veggies such as LETTUCE, SPINACH, and KALE will grow fast…

… thanks to great levels of OXYGEN reaching their roots from the constant water movement.

Pepper and TOMATO plants also adapt superbly since their root structures seek water flow.

Those rooting deeply are less suited, like CARROTS and BEETS.

Always consult your GROWING MEDIUM and specific system specs to decide what is best for your setup.

Water TEMPERATURE, PH, and FLOW rates all impact crop choices in an NFT system.

Do your research to tailor picks to conditions and your production goals…

… for max success!

Plant TypeKey Traits
LettuceFast growth, high oxygen uptake, tolerant of varying flow rates
BasilLarge leaves produce lots of biomass, thirsty for nutrients
ChivesPerennial herb for year-round harvests, compact growth habit
SpinachHeat tolerant for all seasons, nutrient-hungry foliage
KaleRobust leaves packed with vitamins, flexible about pH and temperature
TomatoesHeavy nutrient feeders, establish strong root systems where water flows
PeppersFruits love warmth and hydration from constant streams

Nutrient Film Technique in Aquaponics

When taking your HYDROponic gardening to the next level with AQUAPOnics, NUTRIENT FILM TECHNIQUE is a perfect fit.

Aquaponics combines conventional hydroponics and aquaculture into one integrated system.

By connecting your fish TANK to an NFT channel lined with your favorite CROPS, you can…

… cycle nutrients from the fish waste naturally through the plants, filtering the water…

… thoroughly before returning it clean to the fish.

This elegantly SIMPLE yet productive technique allows for some COOL tricks that commercial GROWERS find extremely appealing.

For one, the CONSTANT flow of bubbling, OXYGEN-rich water through the plant roots YIELDS them higher.

They GROW faster because all their нужrient and water NEEDS are MET 24/7 by the mineral-packed nutrient stream.

This HIGH-density production means more harvests and bigGER foliage in less space.

And with the addition of fish, ZERO external fertilizers are required…

… since fish poop contains all necessary compounds for optimum plant NUTRIENT uptake.

Best of all, no worrying about water pumps or infrastructure – let gravity do the work! 

An added air pump is all that’s needed to drive water movement.

If you want to start small with hydroponic gardening or go pro…

… with a self-sustaining setup, look no further than combining NFT channels with aquaponics for max success!

Variations and Innovations

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Exploring Different NFT System Designs

NUTRIENT FILM TECHNIQUE (NFT) systems come in many creative forms beyond the conventional designs of old.

Innovation in hydroponic food PRODUCTION knows no bounds.

Many GROWERS have developed alternative styles of NFT to grow more EDIBLE CROPS in less space.

VERTICAL systems hang or stack channels to maximize wall and ceiling areas indoors.

Bamboo poles or simple PVC piping can bear the WEIGHT of tubes at different heights and angles for customizable layouts.

Some hobbyists mount drainage PIPES flat on walls like modular shelving.

These unique configurations take NFT to new dimensions without sacrificing high YIELDS.

Those starting small will appreciate simpler innovations too – portable racks, carousels, and kits make NFT accesible for home and classroom use.

Get growing wherever works best for your setting!

Maintenance and Optimization Tips

Ensuring Long-Term Success

To keep NUTRIENT FILM TECHNIQUE (NFT) systems humming productively for years, some REGULAR upkeep is key.

Begin by cleaning all MOVING PARTS like water PUMPS and TIMERS monthly to remove any algae buildup that could GUM things up.

Next, disinfect all COMPONENTS OF AN NFT SYSTEM including…

… TUBES, channels, and RESERVOIRS every 2-3 months using…

… diluted hydrogen peroxide or bleach solutions followed by several plain water RINSES.

This KILLS any pathogens that could harm root health.

Finally, test NUTRIENT LEVELS and pH weekly, making gentle ADJUSTMENTS as needed.

… during each refill to maintain balanced NUTRITION for your plants.

Consistency is important, as is adding dissolved oxygen with an aerator.

Any tweaks to improve FLOW RATES, light TIMING, or overall system DESIGN will…

… maximize your precious crops’ access to all the NUTRIENTS and DISSOLVED OXYGEN…

… they require from the NFT’S thin but efficient water STREAM.

Little efforts go a long way toward optimal, TROUBLE-FREE growing!

Troubleshooting Common NFT Issues

While SIMPLE in design, NUTRIENT FILM TECHNIQUE (NFT) setups require care to avoid a few potential problems.

Clogged or kinked TUBES prevent the crucial SHALLOW stream of water and nutrients from properly flowing over PLANT ROOTS, starving them.

Check tubes often, especially where ROOTS ARE EXPOSED, for buildup.

Low dissolved oxygen from insufficient AERATION or excessive HEAT causes roots…

… to drown from lack of air – install bubblers! Nutrient imbalance SLOWS growth and yields – calibrate levels weekly.

Leaks waste solution – tighten all fittings.

Excess algae in channels shade plants – scrub monthly.

Prevent these common DISADVANTAGES of NFT by monitoring MAIN COMPONENTS.

Staying aware of possible issues lets you nip them in the bud with…

… simple fixes, ensuring your NFT HYDROPONIC NUTRIENTS…

…  continuously feed plants for maximum GREENHOUSE CROPS and FOOD PRODUCTION! 

Preventative maintenance is the key to long-term success.


Real-World Applications

Growing LEAFY greens has never been EASIER than with NUTRITIOUS NFT systems.

Instead of wrestling with soil or GROWING media, NFT uses…

… a STEADY stream of water and nutrients to nourish plants.

Let me walk you through some real-world NFT SUCCESS STORIES and how you can start your own.

NFT makes growing a SNAP by keeping plant ROOTS surrounded by a shallow FILM OF WATER containing dissolved nutrients.

No more watering cans or hoping your SUBSTRATE stays moist – just set up the system and let it do the work.

Basic NFT setups use PVC PIPES arranged in a D shape with water constantly CIRCULATING through a RESERVOIR and PUMP.

Plants sit in the UPPER half of the pipe with their ROOTS dangling in the nutrient water below.

A GENERAL GUIDE for NFT is to keep a slow, even FLOW that maintains about 1/8 inch of solution in the bottom of the tubes.

As long as the PUMP runs reliably, plants can GROW BIG without stress.

However, since no GROWING MEDIA holds moisture, a PUMP FAILURE means ROOTS dry out FAST.

That’s why most HOME GROWERS also use a back-up reservoir andair pump for oxygenating the solution.


For a prime example of large-scale NFT, check out WHOLE FOODS’ orchid greenhouses.

Spread over 4 acres, their living LETTUCE walls rely on NFT to reliably produce THOUSANDS of heads of lettuce EACH WEEK all year.

Stationed in floor-to-ceiling PVC PIPES arranged in ROWS, the plants thrive…

… with a steady drip of nutrients pumped up from underground storage tanks.

Employees regularly monitor SOLUTION levels and make tiny adjustments to keep PLANTS GROWING at their peak.

In short, NFT MAKES hydroponic GARDENING a breeze by eliminating SOIL MESS while streamlining plant CARE.

Expect BOUNTIFUL harvests with minimal EFFORT…

… when you set up your own NFT system for FRESH, DELICIOUS homegrown produce.

The low barrier to TRY means you have nothing to lose but your grocery BILL! 

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of PLANTS grow best with NFT?

NFT works WELL for greens that have high moisture needs like lettuce, herbs, and microgreens.

Leafy plants with SHALLOW root systems take to NFT especially due to the constant moisture and nutrients circulating around their roots.

Some fruits and vegetables also do nicely so long as their root growth isn’t too extensive, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, strawberries.

Experimenting allows finding what THRIVES in your NFT system.

How often do nutrients need changing in the reservoir?

Most HYDROPOCNICS experts recommend carefully monitoring NUTRIENT levels and thoroughly cleaning/refilling the solution reservoir every 1-2 weeks for BEST results.

Many factors influence this like plant type, growing stage, water temperature.

As a general GUIDELINE, nutrients deplete faster when plants are actively photosynthesizing and GROWING.

Catching changes EARLY helps provide consistent plant health.

What if the power or pump fails?

Having a BACKUP power source like a BATTERY or small generator ensures the pump keeps circulating solution if outage occurs.

An AIR PUMP adding oxygen to the reservoir also buys more time until power/pump is restored.

In an emergency, handwatering with nutrients can keep roots from drying up entirely until the system is online again.

Redundancy helps prevent losing entire crops from a single failure.

How significant is pH for NFT systems?

Maintaining the right pH level, typically between 5.5-6.5, is CRUCIAL for NFT.

Since there is no soil buffering, nutrient availability and uptake relies on the water pH being within the optimal range plants have evolved to use.

Frequent testing and calibration ensures proper uptake without deficiencies developing in your NFT CROPS.

pH adjustments are quick and painless to make.


In conclusion, NUTRIENT film technique offers an ingenious and low-effort way to reliably GROW a variety of PLANTS.

As my experience shows, setting up an affordable home NFT system…

… means you can easily harvest FRESH herbs, lettuce and more YEAR-ROUND to enjoy.

With its dependable irrigation of ROOTS and controlled environment, NFT truly TRANSFORMS traditional hydroponics.

Whether sprouting microgreens indoors or cultivating…

… tropical FRUITS outdoors, NFT’S simple design makes it a sensible option for any HYDROPCNICS gardening needs.

With its steady STREAM of nutrients and water keeping…

… plants well-FED, my NFT system has RUN flawlessly for over a year now.

Looking to start your own SYSTEM? 

Leave a COMMENT with any other questions – I’d be happy to offer tips based…

… on my NFT experiences GROWING over 100 plants with ease!



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