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Constructing a backyard NFT Hydroponic System

In the May 6 column, we learnt about Nutrient Flow Technique (NFT) Hydroponic Systems. As promised, the below gives details for the design of a backyard system while sticking to a low budget. The following materials can be procured at your nearest hardware:

2” PVC 3 Growing space and attachments – 2 lengths will be cut into 2 equal pieces to create 4 NFT channels. 2” Ts 4 2” Elbows 3 2” End caps 5 3” PVC 2 3” End Caps 8 3” Ts 6 3” Elbows 6 Thread seal 2 1/2” PVC 3 1/2” Elbows 5 1/2” Ts 6 1/2’ End Caps 6

Additional materials will include: large tie straps to secure PVC onto frame, PVC glue, thread seal, a tube of silicon in case of emergency leaks, a reservoir tank (small tank or barrel will be ideal), hand saw to cut PVC, hand drill attached to a door hole Corer 2” and ½” template, measuring tape and electrical cords for electricity access.

The following materials can be procured at an agri-centre:


Clay Pebbles

Air Pump and Stones

Submersible Pump

Netted cups

pH metre & Electrical Conductivity (EC) Meter


Organic Fungicide


Obtain PVC and fittings



360 GPH or adjustable pump 50-80

Pest and Disease Management Pest and Disease Management

Measure the dimensions where the system will be situated. Ensure space has good exposure to sunlight and away from pest and disease sources.

Ensure space has access to two-plug electrical outlet (one for air pump, other for pump) that can extend

(110 V).

Ensure a water source is near to system for fulling of reservoir.

Ensure that there is space to dig a hole to put reservoir in (tool needed: shovel). Dig the area and insert the tank vertically into ground, ¾ way in.

Start drilling holes in PVC using the 6” spacing ( tools needed: marker to draw out template, drill and PVC cutting set, using a 2” circle template)

Set up frames for system according to diagram. Width of frames are dependent on space. Create frames with different heights so that the first frame is the tallest, the second frame is shorter and the third is the shortest giving a decreasing height effect. Use the tie straps to adhere the PVC pipes to the frame.

Set up inlet and outlet channels using diagrams.

Obtain seedlings (lettuce, kale, patchoi, herbs).

Connect all parts of system (tools needed: hammer, hack saw, thread seal, PVC glue and ensure PVC alignment with drainage system for inlet and outlet of water flow).

Fill reservoir and attach pump and air pump. Align pump to inlet as seen in design.

Add fertiliser mix to your reservoir according to package instructions.

Soak clay pebbles in water then insert seedling in each netted cup surrounding the seedling with a palm full of clay pebbles.

Insert the full netted cup into the hole in the PVC system.

At this time it should be ensured that the water flow is touching the base of the netted cups which should in turn soak the clay pebbles providing moisture to the roots of the seedling sufficient for plant growth.

Use your pH and EC metre to check the quality of your water daily and ensure it is to correct standards.

Observe daily for pest and diseases and monitor the leaves foliage to ensure that healthy growth is occurring. Use bioneem and fungicide as precautionary measures as suggested on directions.

Send questions to rayannaboodram@hotmail.com