How to grow cannabis using Nutrient Film Technique
The Nutrient Film Technique, NFT, is one of the most popular type of hydroponic systems with a simple design perfectly suitable for cultivating compact, auto-flowering cannabis strains. The system works by using a water pump to deliver fertilized solution to a grow tray with marijuana plants, and when the roots contact with it, they absorb all the necessary nutrients. Moreover, it has a drain pipe used to guide the unused nutrient water back to the main reservoir. As the name of the system says, the system lets a very small quantity of water cascade to flow down through the channels, ensuring the plants have enough oxygen so as not to drown.
Benefits of NFT for growing Cannabis
The Nutrient Film Technique is the best system to cultivate fast-growing plants, like auto-flowering cannabis strains. Apart from its affordable price, simple design and flexible maintenance requirements, NFT is opted for by more and more growers due to a number of other benefits. First of all, NFT systems ensure water efficiency, meaning your cannabis plants require less water, yet your yield can be more up to three times than the result of growing marijuana in soil.
Its simple design avoids using a lot of additional tools. It enables plants to absorb as much nutrient solution as required, and you can easily monitor roots health, taking any necessary measures when needed. Since NFT works with no soil or growing media, there are fewer places to harbor pests, plus roots are easy to disinfect or set up. Another important feature of this hydroponic system is that by ensuring consistent flow it avoids salt buildup in the root area of marijuana plants.
to Build Your Own NFT System for growing marijuana
If you’re no stranger to elementary DIY skills, you can easily construct your own NFT System for cannabis at your place. There are hundreds of ways to do it, and before choosing any of them you are to answer two main questions - how much space you have and what cannabis strains you’re going to grow. But whatever design you opt for, there are several commercially available materials that every system should have:
Reservoir to keep the nutrient solution
Growing channels or tray
Air pump and water pump
Tubing to deliver water to the NFT tubes
Net pots with growing medium for initial seeding
Nutrients for hydroponics
Once you have all the materials, pick the system design that fits your particular requirements. Keep in mind that NFT systems can take much space so you probably have to experiment with the designs. Vertical stacking systems and spirals can be a good option to mount NFT tubes for those with a small area at their disposal.
Growing Tips for the NFT System
Regardless of the chosen NFT design, each grower should know both the basics of hydroponic cultivation and some smart tips to achieve faster growth and better yields of cannabis.
Using the NFT system requires a good control of the environment, especially air temp, humidity, and air flow, particularly because with no growth media around, the roots are more exposed and less protected from the outside extremes. The temperature of your nutrient water is important as well, so make sure it doesn’t exceed 65-68°. For cannabis plants grown with the help of NFT System, a pH range of the solution should be maintained at 5.8 - 6.3.
Changing your reservoir every 7 to 10 days is a good strategy to keep your nutrient solution calibrated. Bigger reservoirs can go with less frequent changes, while it's better to change more often when it comes to smaller tanks. Make sure you keep roots in the dark, because by exposing the reservoir to light, you allow algae to grow and thrive.
Monitor health of the cannabis roots on a regular basis and consider supporting your marijuana plants as they begin to flower. Since NFT is a bare-rooted system, you may need to use some pea netting to stake your marijuana plants, tie them, or use another type of support.
A general rule for every cannabis grower, keep your reservoirs, tanks, channels, and tanks clean, and give the system a thorough cleaning each time you transplant new seedlings in.