More cannabis home growers than ever before are shunning soil in favour of hydroponics. Having been identified as a more effective and reliable way to cultivate top-shelf cannabis, hydro has become the new standard for discerning growers worldwide.
Specifically, the nutrient film technique (NFT) has gained enormous traction among growers at all levels. Primarily due to the fact that it’s also one of the simplest to get to grips with, if new to the world of hydroponics. From cannabis to herbs to strawberries to lettuce, NFT has the potential to deliver unbeatable results at an affordable price.
Nevertheless, there are pros and cons to take into account, if you intend to give NFT a shot.
How Does NFT Work?
The nutrient film technique utilises the most basic form of hydroponics to produce consistently outstanding cannabis. A shallow stream of water – packed with balanced nutrients – is recirculated continuously through a channel, or a series of channels.The roots of the plants are submerged directly in the nutrient solution, provided with a continuous dose of everything they need to perform at their absolute best.
In a typical working example, approximately one litre of nutrient solution will flow by the roots of each plant every minute. This varies by way of the size and nature of the setup, but is a good reference to go by. An NFT setup can be as complicated or simple as required, producing anything from a handful of plants to the most enormous harvest for commercial purposes.
The Benefits of NFT
Why switch soil for the nutrient film technique? For one thing, providing cannabis plants with the precise dose of nutrients they need during each life stage largely guarantees superior results. In terms of both the size and the quality of the final yields, cannabis produced by way of NFT is almost always superior. Even with limited knowledge and experience, you could end up producing more high-end bud than you know what to do with.
In addition, the NFT system can be surprisingly energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. The nutrient solution circulated is recycled time and time again, meaning little to no wastage whatsoever. There’s also very little risk of run-off into the surrounding environment. Energy requirements are minimal and a quality NFT system effectively takes care of itself.
It can also be surprisingly cost effective to own and operate an NFT setup.Once the initial purchase costs have been covered, the system and its components can be used indefinitely for repeat grow-cycles. It’s also possible to automate the vast majority of key processes, using advanced electronics.
The Disadvantages of NFT
Of course, the key downside to the nutrient film technique is the relatively steep learning curve for newcomers. Compared to simply tossing a bunch of seedlings into a bucket of soil, the nutrient film technique is considerably more complex.You may also find that you need slightly more available space in the first place, along with access to a reliable power source.
Speaking of which, power-cuts or power supply issues could quickly destroy your entire crop. If the pump itself is rendered inoperative for even a short period of time, your plants will not be provided with any moisture or nutrients whatsoever. Even when working with the most reliable equipment therefore, you need to keep a close eye on things and have a backup plan in mind.
Last but not least, some will always argue that cannabis grown using a hydro setup doesn’t have the same ‘quality’ as weed grown in traditional soil. They insist that there are notable differences by way of both aroma and flavour profiles, which make NFT and comparable techniques ‘inferior’ to soil.
All if which is a case of personal preference, so it’s down to you to decide!