The Nutrient Film Technique NFT

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The Nutrient Film Technique, or NFT, was pioneered by Allen Cooper at the Glasshouse Crops Research Institute in Littlehampton, England. In this growing technique, plants are placed atop an inverted 'V' shaped channel, sealed on all sides into a box-like tunnel, through which a thin film of nutrient solution passes along the bottom. A pump and reservoir combination situated below the channels collects and recycles the nutrient back through the system. Roots grow down along the channel, receiving oxygen directly from the inside of the trough, while receiving water and nutrients from the thin film of nutrient being carried along the bottom of the channel by gravity. The enclosed channels maintains 100% humidity to protect against dehydration. Excellent results can be obtained with this system. However, maintaining the "nutrient film" becomes difficult once the roots form large mats at the bottom of the channel. The resulting puddling can create stagnation in the root zone, depleting roots of oxygen and fresh nutrient. Efficiency, on the other hand, is excellent because the closed channel limits evaporation.

Nutrient Film Technique
The nutrient film technique is most popular amongst lettuce growers as it is well suited to low growing crops with fast turnaround. Pictured here is a hybrid NFT system planted with ten day old lettuce.

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