Hydroponics is a type of agriculture that uses no dirt, and usually results in larger, fuller plants. I recently became interested in the topic, and decided to start my own vegetable garden using the Nutrient Film Technique (NFT). It involves a channel of nutrient enriched water constantly flowing past a plant's roots. The system that I'm demonstrating here is just one example of infinitely many possibilities. Take my work and use it as inspiration for developing a system that suits you and your needs.

Step 1: The Idea

Because hydroponics requires a resevoir for water to be drawn from and returned to simultaneously, and I was just building a small system, my design has two gullies. This allows the water to easily go full circle.

Along with the water pump, my system uses gravity to assist the flow of water. Each end of the PVC is one inch higher than the end that comes next in the circle. The end of the tube that water enters from is the highest, and the end that it leaves from is the lowest. To achieve this, I built supports out of lumber for the pipes. The supports also keep them high enough to be above the reservoir, so that gravity will return the water to it.
<p>i built this but it kinda failed. because we used slots instead of holes...</p><p>ooops</p>
<p>good idea</p>
<p>Hi</p><p>I have a quick question regarding the NFT. How do you start off the plants? I assume the roots need to be touching the &quot;film&quot; from the get go. Do you do this but pulling the roots through the net pot?</p><p>Thanks</p>
<p>Hi,</p><p>From my experience, the roots don't need to be pulled all the way through the net pot to begin with. I generally just make sure the roots are touching the bottom of the net pot, or close to it. Then, I make sure that when the nutrient solution circulates it at least grazes the bottom of the net pot. Eventually the roots will find their way out the bottom of the net pot and become part of the root mat. Here's an example: </p><p>https://goo.gl/photos/6niWX4EcJUUDbBdU8</p>
<p>Yippee! Been looking for something like this! Aquaponics is too involved with fish and load-shedding (I live in south Africa) and all. Thanks. (Load-shedding means our electricity gets shut down every now and then for 6 -12 hours at a time.)</p>
Wow! Awesome idea. I am definitely gonna make this
cool system im gonna use it for a school project!
cool system im gonna use it for a school project!
cool system im gonna use it for a school project!
cool system im gonna use it for a school project! ?
cool system im gonna use it for a school project! ?
cool system im gonna use it for a school project!
cool system im gonna use it for a school project! ?
<p>I'm planning to build one of these soon, great work! One question, does it run 24/7, or do you have some sort of timer?</p>
I noticed that you didn't mention much about figuring out correct flowrates. Is that because different plants require different flowrates? Or is that something you just left to trial and error?
Hey i was just wondering if that exact system could grow cacti or venus fly traps?
If you're still interested, I would recommend against it, but with effort it may be possible. A lot of cacti will suffer root rot if left that moist (some do okay, but you'd have to experiment). Carnivorous plants are from nutrient poor areas so the hydroponic solution would burn the roots. I suppose a hydro setup running distilled water would work to keep them watered, it would make it pretty easy to control how much they stand in.
Great job! Thank you!
I really hope I can pull this off. How long does the water last?
That will depend on your climate, plants and reservoir. I was generally able to just replace water as it was consumed every other week or so.
Thank you
Great system! Check out my hanging nft system at http://needscitation.blogspot.com/2012/03/nutrient-film-technique-hydroponics.html and tell me what you guys think about the design. Regards.
A 'pipette' or 'wine thief' will sub for a syringe, and any home brewing/wine making shop would have it.
Sweet setup! An even gentler way to remove dirt from roots is to submerge the root ball in water, gently moving the water to wash away the dirt. Just make sure you 1st adjust the PH of the water as it you were going to use it for the nutrient solution.
Nice work!<br>At some point, while following interesting biology classes in highschool, I also got interested into that, and I seem to remember that by monitoring the pH and the electrical conductivity of the liquid (nutrients), it was possible to control it.<br>This even makes it possible to adapt it to the actual needs of the plant, which can vary depending on the actual stage of development of the plant.<br>Finally, if you can control, and adapt the composition of the liquid, you don't need to replace/through any.
Thanks for sharing this wonderful step-by-step process on building an NFT system. The PVC pipe would really do better with this kind of system although rain gutters would also do fine. I think the only challenge with rain gutters is to find a covering that will be light proof. Anyway, what kinds of plant have you tried growing with this system? Would be happy to know the results.
I see most other instructables use LECA on the bottom (Holy christmas batman, I just found out my home depot carries it, and it's cheap too), Vermiculite, and Perlite.<br /> <br /> I can't find Vermiculite anywhere, and then I&nbsp;noticed you didn't list what you use besides LECA, did you use anything or just fill it up with&nbsp; LECA?<br />
Sorry for the late reply. I've made two hydroponic systems now, and both used only LECA. Some people seem to like mixes, but I haven't had any problems using only it.
is pvc ok to use? its not toxic @ all?
&nbsp;PVC is only toxic when heated.
LOL, I saw the NFT Acronym and assumed it was your secret code for &quot;No F*cking Time&quot;...<br /> <br /> Awesome instructable though.
I've got a 500GPH Bilge Pump somewhere in the garage. Will it work? Or will it be too vigorous and damage the roots? I'm trying to make a nice 4-hole herb garden for my kitchen with all the needed herbs - rosemary, parsley, basil and thyme.

About This Instructable




Bio: I enjoy photography, horticulture and carpentry, and am almost always doing something relating to of those things.
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