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Today we are visiting a group of sustainable growers who built an NFT (Nutrient Film Technique) Aquaponics system.
What is NFT Aquaponics?
NFT is actually very much used in hydroponics, it consist of growing plants and vegetables into pipes. The pipes are equipped with holes and the water and nutrients are running inside the pipes. Generally this type of system only hold a thin lay of water and nutrients, this is the reason why it is called Nutrient FILM technique.
NFT Aquaponics design
The trick in the design of those systems is to get the correct slope to get the water circulating into the pipes without being clogged by the roots and forming mini dams into the pipe. The usual slope goes between 2cm to 5cm per meter of pipe.
Advantages and disadvantages of NFT:
NFT can be very interesting in terms of surface optimisation. It is often used flat (all pipes are displayed on a flat support) but it can also be used in the shape of a pyramid where the pipes are at different levels and therefore the height is used to increase the productivity per square meter.
Another advantage of this technique is that the cost per square meter can be very reasonable (depending on the type of channels/pipes used).
If designed correctly the NFT system will only hold a very low quantity of water and therefore the total weight of the pipe + water + plants will be very limited compared to a DWC or a classic growbed so if you want to grow food in a balcony, a terrace or any other surface where the load capacity is limited this is a good option!
The NFT pipe can be raised at any high, it makes things way easier when it comes to harvest the crop instead of having to bend to the floor and damage your back.
If you leave in a warm country where the sun can shine very strongly you should be careful with this technique as the temperature into the pipes can quickly raise and reach 50oC+ which is not good for the plants.
The Design of the system is a bit tricky in order to make sure ot get the adapted water level (not too high, not too low).
In NFT Aquaponics the level of water into the channel is very low. We must start with plants that will be able to reach the water present into the very bottom of the pipe.
Sensitive to water flow interruption
The NFT channels/pipes are placed on a light slope so if the water pump stops, the water into the pipes will be drained out. The plants will therefore remain without water and if the temperature is high the roots will dry and the plants will quickly die.
Analysis of Celine’s NFT system:
First I need want to congratulate the team as they built a descent size system without any previous experience in Aquaponics. They were able to grow fish and vegetables so from this perspective the mission is accomplish Congratulations!!
Now there are always area of improvement and if I visited this setup it was also to give a constructive feedback on what could be changed to make the system more sustainable and efficient. Here are few of my findings:
In this video we can see a first swirl filter designed to trap the solids coming from the fish tank. Following this swirl filter we have a Bio-filter which is mainly composed of a drum filled with a variety of bacteria media. The aim of this biological filter is to offer a good support to the aerobic nitrifying bacteria biomass.
In this constant water level bio filter we can see that the oxygen supplied is very limited. There is little…
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Link of the vidéo
Nutrient Film Technique NFT Aquaponics: https://youtu.be/TtMoHLCqGng
Visit Sangha team’s website here: www.sangha-project.com