|The Nutrient Flow Technique (NFT) is widely used in commercial operations because it is completely scalable and provides amazing results. You can expand your NFT system to cover acres of growing area if so inclined, but it is best to start small and get a hang of it first.
The basic idea is that a nutrient solution constantly flows through a flat-bottomed tray or a wide, round pipe (PVC plumbing pipes work excellent for this). The nutrient solution is allowed to flow over the roots of the plant, delivering the nutrient efficiently.
Because the roots are sitting in fast flowing water, a large amount of oxygen is delivered to the roots, helping facilitate their growth (and ultimately the growth of your plants). Most NFT growers also aerate the solution using an aquarium stone in the reservoir to further oxygenate it before it flows through the roots.
No growing medium is used, so the roots expand at a phenomenal rate. Amazing growth follows. Some common (fully legal) crops that are grown using this technique in a commercial setting are tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, zucchini and even pumpkins.
While the advantage of this system is its phenomenal growth and infinite scalability, the foremost drawback is complication. To implement this technique, you need a high flow pump, an aerator and a sometimes complicated network of piping or trays. The results are spectacular, but many feel the complication and level of work aren’t worth it.
Another drawback to this method is the cost of setting the thing up – the cost of the pump, aerator, and pipes add up quickly. It’s also very unforgiving to mistakes or oversights, which will cause headaches later on.