An NFT (Nutrient Film Technique) channel is a component of a hydroponic system that provides a narrow, shallow channel or trough for growing plants. The channels are typically made from different kinds of plastic and are designed to hold a thin film of nutrient-rich water that flows continuously over the plant's roots.
In this blog, we will understand some of the key factors that need to be considered when choosing the NFT channel or gully for your hydroponics farm.
The NFT channel should be made of a durable, food-grade material that can withstand exposure to nutrient solutions and sunlight.
NOTE: Using PVC pipes and C-PVC pipes is not good as they have lead and chlorine as stabilising materials respectively. These can leach into the nutrient solution and can be absorbed by plants.
2. Maintenance & Cleaning
NFT channels will have algae, and some debris & need cleaning after every harvest cycle to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and pathogens.
An openable channel is good to maintain & clean. But wait, are all openable channels the same?
Some bad NFT channel designs, though they are openable!
Cleaning and sterilising the entire NFT hydroponic system is a must after every harvest cycle because of the algae and different kinds of debris. When the channels are either not openable or very difficult to open, the entire cleaning process becomes too labour-intensive. This impacts the cost of the operations and delays the start of the next crop cycle.
What can be the best design?
3. Size & Depth
Overall, when choosing the NFT channel for your hydroponics system, consider the material with which the channels are made (prefer a channel made of plastic which is both lead-free and food-grade). Always opt for a channel that can be both opened and closed very easily to make the process less labour-intensive. Finally make sure to use the correct size of NFT channel based on the crops you intend to grow to reduce your capital cost.