Why we chose NFT as our main hydroponic system
Hydroponics is our method of choice when it comes to plant cultivation techniques in a vertical farming approach.
Our goal is to incorporate vertical farming into a small container. We will be using a hydroponic method called Nutrient Film Technique (NFT).
How does NFT work?
Hydroponics is a method of growing plants in a nutrient solution, instead of soil. It was invented by Dr. William Gericke of the University of California as an alternative strategy to farming. Hydroponics is the perfect tool for precision farming, because you have total control of the nutrients reaching the roots. It is also possible to regulate the environment of the rhizosphere, which is very difficult to achieve when cultivating plants in soil.
In NFT-hydroponic systems, plants are cultivated with their roots contained in a plastic trough or channel through which nutrient solution is continuously circulated. The nutrient solution is pumped from a reservoir through irrigation pipes to the top of every sloping channel. The run-off is collected at the end and flows to a second tank. Here, the water is filtered and sterilized before it returns to the main reservoir.
Hydroponic systems in vertical farming use up to 95% less water than conventional agriculture does with soil cultivation.
Compared with the cultivation of plants in soil, hydroponics improve the oxygenation of roots, thereby stimulating root growth. We chose a NFT system for our pilot project, because it is fairly inexpensive to set up and maintain. It also uses space efficiently and suits our approach of farming vertically within an extremely confined area very well. In contrast to other hydroponic systems such as deep water culture and ebb and flow systems, there is less algae development. We will be using SureGrow NFT channels produced by HydroGarden in the UK.