Curious about your Next NFT Build


(The Texan)

I am just curious to know if you are building a new NFT system? I am about to build one, but was kind of concerned about the dam for the water level.



Answer: Texan- I have had plans for a while to build another NFT hydroponic system, much like my most successful system, but using 6 inch PVC pipe instead of 4 inch PVC. Unfortunately, many things have kept me from doing so lately. I can run down a list of reasons why I want to use the bigger pipe, as well as some of the benefits.

With the 4 inch PVC pipe, it is tricky keeping the water level high without causing small leaks here and there out the planting holes. Also, the volume of plant roots running through the 4 inch PVC towards the end of the growing cycle started to cause the water flowing through the system to back up, forcing me to reduce my flow rate in order to prevent a much bigger leaking problem. I did not notice any negative affect on the plants because of the change, however, I would like to have the system designed and ready for success without having to adjust it as it goes. Maybe I ask too much, lol.

Both of these problems, I imagine, would be largely fixed by using 6 inch PVC for the system instead of the 4 inch PVC....which brings me to the dam. In a 4 inch PVC system, there is not enough hydroponic nutrient solution in the pipes themselves to support healthy plant growth without constantly testing and adjusting the nutrient solution. Therefore, a nutrient reservoir is needed in addition to the hydroponic system itself. Furthermore, the nutrient solution needs to be transferred back and forth, from the nutrient reservoir to the system, and from the system back to the nutrient reservoir.

Moving nutrient solution from the system, back to the nutrient reservoir, while maintaining the proper water level inside the hydroponic system- THAT is the tricky part in a 4 inch PVC system. That is why I came up with the dam method. By cutting out a small half circle of plastic and caulking it into place at the end of the system, more water is allowed to spill out of the system if the water level begins to rise (for whatever reason). It's both a simple and very effective solution to the problem.

However, a system made from 6 inch pipe has it beat. Since the pipes hold so much water, there is no need for a separate nutrient reservoir. In order to create a flow within the system, you simply pump nutrient solution from the "end" of the system and release it back into the starting point of the system....both ends of which can be capped off (eliminating the possibility of leaks from either end point). Also, the rate of fluid leaving the system is always the same as the rate of fluid entering the system, since it is all the action of the same pump!

The only negative I can think of (and I have considered the design for many, many hours) would be the nutrient solution changes. In the 4 inch PVC systems, they are very convenient....simply dump the reservoir and replace it with fresh nutrient solution. With the 6 inch PVC design, I think I would have to use the nutrient solution pump to "pump out" the system, then would have to use a reservoir of some sort to mix up a fresh batch of nutrient solution, then would use the pump to refill the system with the fresh solution. Maybe a touch more work, but worth it considering all of the other issues the design tends to fix. I hope this helps you out, and Happy Growing!

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Feb 04, 2013
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Dam NEW
by: Anonymous

Good info, always nice to see someone experimenting with hp.

Instead of making the dam yourself you could probably use a 6-2 reducer coupling with the 2" hole being off center, then you can simply turn it to place the 2" hole higher or lower, raising or lowering the dam.

Jun 18, 2012
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last step for 6" pipe NEW
by: Bo

Great site,
Just add a drain plug to change fluids. one more hole on the bottom with a cork or thread the pipe end and use screw on cap. Both threaded couplers and caps are available.

Thanks

Mar 02, 2012
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About pump NEW
by: George

Hi fried my question is for how long time do i have to live the pump runing and how many times in a day and night tankyou.

Jan 05, 2012
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Solving the leaks. NEW
by: G from MI.

Hi Jason, Love your site man. A way you could eliminate leaks is to make a 6" or 8" diameter system but, instead of drilling pot holes into the PVC, use a "T" with the center hole facing up. The larger diameter PVC would accommodate more root growth. The hole in the tee would also allow a larger net pot to be used, thus having a more stable set up. For your dam (3" cut plastic), try putting a tee on the very end where your dam would be and cut 2 end caps 3" high. I am going to build this system this weekend. Happy gardening man.

Oct 27, 2011
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6" system
by: Anonymous

I have both a 4" system in a greenhouse and 6" system outside. Both have reservoir's. The 4" system has a 1/2" return pipe, which runs along under the PVC back to the pump reservoir. Easy to test, add nutrients, change water etc. The 6" outside system, has two levels/PVC pipes, top one overflows into the lower 6" PVC via a short 1/2" diameter pipe. This PVC overflows back into the reservoir pump tank. Both systems use solar pumps to circulate nutrient solution. So far i am very happy with this set up. I have had a few issues getting pH where i want it, but now seem to be on top of those issues. One question i have though is....I am in an area that has very cold winter's, does anyone heat their water? I wonder if this would help with growth through the colder months.....any idea's.

Oct 06, 2011
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aero
by: Anonymous

i have 2 6" pvc tubes and im thinking of doing and aeroponic set up similar to this one its more of a hybrid aero + NFT the nutrient is pumped through 1/2 inch pipe 6'long inside 6" pvc thats 7 feet long there is two elbows hooked into a T aat the end and a 4"pip connected to it that runs back to the resovior and theo ther ends are capped off. i have a 3"dam so that if a sprayer or two clogged there willl still be 3"of water in the tubes circulating. can you point out any problems you forsee with this system ?

Jul 15, 2011
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6 inch eb and flow
by: Chris

Hi.
I enjoyed the article - easy/simple system for starting out.
I want to "adapt" it to an eb & flow system, since I believe it will be easier to control water level and leaking, as well as eliminate water flow problems with root growth.
Split water pump inlet/drain into 4, and place an inlet/drain at the end (or possibly middle) of each lenght of PVC pipe to ensure even filling up of dam.
Place (adjustable) overflow close to reservoir to control water level.
Any other ideas to adapt to eb & flow?

May 22, 2011
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need larger system
by: David

Since I said again I am a legal caregiver/grower and I will be having all the patients I need for the total of legally having 72 plants 12 per Patient and myelf. The idea of course is maxing final product as the collectives in michigan can purchase all your overage, wink and a nod but great how the law works on this here in michigan.
Also you can set and sell your own for full price or deliver it to a collective and get a decent wholesale price of around 350 an oz, but it is tested and made sure to be of high quality. I just need to hurry because now michigan has all republican control now and there are several bills to try and modify some of the law as it stands

May 22, 2011
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Legal growqer
by: David

Just was wondering how the pump action works on the 6" pvc set up. Were would it be located , were is it pumping from . The drain sounds like a great idea to replace solution

Apr 11, 2011
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the six inch isn't really a great idea...
by: Anonymous

When you cap the ends and just pump liquid from one end to the other all you are really doing is circulating. Why wouldn't you opt to just go with a tank and a bubbler directly? More nutes = more stability... more space for roots to spread out, less chance of clogging.

Your stuff is way too complex for most closet gardeners. A 27 gal tank with an aquarium air pump will do just fine for about 8 BIG plants. I guess your system would be good for a huge garden.

Feb 10, 2011
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6 inch drain issue
by: Anonymous

At my PVC supply store they sell saddles for the pipe that are threaded and will accept a drain valve. Works great!!

Feb 04, 2011
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drain plug
by: Anonymous

why not just put a drain plug on one end so u could just drain out the water

Jan 12, 2011
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Awsone job
by: SmokeDoc M.D.

Thanks a lot for all the info. Pretty much had the right idea in my head, was just looking for some plans and yours were spot on! Definitely going with the 6" plans. Hopefully a pair of systems. Can't wait!

Oct 28, 2010
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air &waterflow for 6" system gph?
by: 420

How many aerators are needed & what size pump/ where are they located?

Added Response:For the 4' X 8' homemade system shown on my website, I would recommend two air bubblers. I have always used whatever bubblers I had available, without concern about their "pump size" (and I have never had any problems due to lack of Oxygen). Out of convenience, and for no other particular reason, I suggest placing the air pumps somewhere in the tubes of the hydroponic system itself. If placed in the nutrient reservoir, this would work equally as well, but would need to be taken out each time the nutrient solution is changed (and replaced afterward).

Sep 23, 2010
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Solution for the 6" Homemade Hydro System
by: TinyTim

Hey,I have learned a lot from you and just wanted to let you know that I made the 6" system you wanted to, and I solved the problem of changing the solution. It is very simple too! All I did was replace one of the end caps with a valve. I open it, let it drain, and then remove one of the plants and fill it up. Usually takes less then 10 minutes!

Added Response: Thanks for the great tip! I will be sure to keep in in mind when I (finally) get around to building my next system....Happy Growing Tim!

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Find out the cheapest and easiest ways to garden productively in this article.

Hi everyone, Jason from Jason's Indoor Guide here. When I got started with hydroponic gardening more than 22 years ago, my first garden used rockwool cubes and B.C. Nutrients....and I remember thinking to myself yeah, sure, there may be a lot of advantages to gardening with hydroponics, for example there are very few pest problems, therefore very little pest control, no weeding, no plowing or tilling the soil, no soil testing or having to add things into the garden soil, no watering the garden....but for someone who just wants to grow their own vegetables and have more control over their food supply and the quality of the food that they eat, the cost of constantly having to buy grow media and hydroponic nutrients makes this an expensive hobby for most people.

I suppose when you take into consideration how much money you save NOT having to buy food at the grocery store, it is surely cheaper to grow your own food hydroponically even with the cost of high quality nutrients. Nevertheless, I didn't have a whole lot of money to work with and I needed to make my efforts as affordable and effective as possible....and in the last 20 years I HAVE learned a thing or two!

As you browse through Jason's Indoor Guide, you will notice all of the systems that I use personally are homemade systems. As I got 3 or 4 years of experience under my belt, I quickly adopted a preference to standing water systems and systems that use expanded clay pellets or lava rock, because the media is re-usable and it eliminates a huge operating expense. So once a hydroponic system is built, garden maintenance is minimal- check and adjust the nutrient solution daily, and to change it completely every 2 weeks....and the biggest operating cost is the hydroponic nutrients. (and the electric bill, lol).

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Besides mastering how to make high quality compost, learning aquaponics is one of the top 3 things you can do to increase your garden productivity, reduce your total costs, and reduce your total work. The product that I learned from is called Aquaponics4you. With all of my hydroponic gardening experience, the first time I came across the Aquaponics4you product I knew immediately that it was something very special! Place an aquaponics system outdoors and use the sun instead of grow lights, and you have reduced every garden expense to nearly ZERO!


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