NFT Systems – Home Built DIY vs Commercial Systems

by Wayne Schultz
(Collegeville, Pa)

I’ll admit to being a newby to Hydroponics, but I’ve been researching various systems for some time and frankly I’m confused.

Let’s start with the NFT Systems – Home Built DIY (Do It Yourself) vs Commercial Systems

There are an endless number of ‘You Tube’ videos of folks who’ve built all types of NFT systems using PVC pipe, and aluminum gutter downspouts. OK, I’ve been impressed with the ingenuity of home built systems, but then there are the commercial gully gutter systems, and that’s another whole different world. What I’ve been able to view are snapshots of systems either being constructed or are in a growing mode, what I haven’t been able to do is to collect much information about system maintenance, especially on home built systems.

Now I consider myself somewhere between being a hobbyist and a micro commercial farmer. I’ve been doing soil gardening for years and with mixed results, which is why I have bought into the whole Hydroponic concept. I don’t have a ton of money to invest, at the same time I certainly am not interested in making more work for myself. So, here are a few of the things that are bothering me.

For example, a commercial 19’6” gully channel plus the lid with holes 8” O.C. (that’s about 28 or 29 holes) goes for about $22 plus packaging and shipping, and that doesn’t include any of the other essentials that you need to complete the unit - that’s a lot of money. The other side of the coin is when you’ve finished with harvesting the crop from that one channel the lid is easy to remove to clean, and then reassemble, and that’s an improvement really worth considering.

Now, for the home built DIY systems. From what I’ve seen on the videos, they all show product growing very nicely, and I know that their systems are much more attractive investment wise. That does tend to make me think very seriously about going that route. But, whereas the commercial gully channel can be easily disassembled and reassembled for maintenance and cleaning, PVC pipe and aluminum downspout type systems do not offer that kind of flexibility, to me that represents a bigee. Disconnecting and cleaning an 8’ pipe does not look or seem like an easy task. This is an area from which I haven’t been able to find any information that would help in making an intelligent decision.

I also have questions about buying other type of commercial systems, that though well engineered are more expensive than the less expensive, under-engineered, yet well performing DIY systems.

Drip & Drain Dutch Bucket, Ebb & Flow Barrel, and Deep Water Culture Raft Systems all seem to have the same type of questions to which I would like to be better informed.

If you agree or disagree, let’s talk about it.
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Answer from Stella/Simon:
Hi Wayne,
Wow, you have a lot of intelligent questions! I think you would be able to construct a fine NFT system DIY with PVC pipe. If you actually cut the top off the pipe and plant your plants in the bottom, you should have no problem cleaning the pipe out between plantings.

We personally do not use NFT technique because it is a little more complicated and must not be subject to power failures.

Hope someone else chimes in here.

Hope this helps!

***Do you have any knowledge on this subject? Then please join in and leave your thoughts and suggestions below. Help and be helped in the Forums!

Comments for NFT Systems – Home Built DIY vs Commercial Systems

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Mar 02, 2014
Food Grade?
by: David

I have been doing a ton or research on the different systems but the question in my mind is about the safety of the type of plastic that is being used. PVC is considered toxic because of what it can leach but yet most of the systems are utilizing these types of materials. Am I missing something??

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