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How to Make Homemade NFT Capillary Mat
You don’t need to use complicated or expensive materials to make the hydroponic Nutrient Film Technique (NFT). This popular method is used by hydroponics gardeners because the system provides an even and steady distribution of water along with nutrients to the plants, resulting in higher overall crop yields.
The NFT method is easy to perform and for more effective results, a capillary mat can be added to the system. The NFT system can be purchased at your local hobby stores for an affordable price, and as for the capillary mat, it’s easy to make once you follow the instructions in this article.
What you need:
- Plastic gutters
- PVC pipe
- A flat container a few inches deep
- Cheap plastic tote
- air pump
- Water pump
- capillary mats
1. The NFT hydroponic growing method is one of the low maintenance types of hydroponic systems, but keep in mind that some NFT gardening methods come with expensive equipment and some of them are cheap. Typically more expensive types of NFT systems use sophisticated pumps, thermometers and timers to allow you to precisely calibrate the moisture and nutrient delivery required by the plants you are growing. For the cheaper NFT method, you can just use water manually. Whichever method you decide to choose, you should be well informed and know which method is best suited for your hydroponic gardens.
2. The basic principle of the NFT method is to use a very thin film of nutrient-rich moisture that the plants can continuously access. With constant access to nutrients in water-soluble form, plant roots will have an easier time getting the right amount of nutrients for growth. Apart from this, continuous access of nutrients also provides high yield of plants and hence this method is commonly used.
3. If you are new to hydroponic gardening, it is wise to use a capillary mat to make the process more consistent and easier especially for beginners. Capillary mats are used because they are generally permeable and absorbent so they are able to transfer nutrient-rich moisture directly to your plants.
4. To make a homemade capillary mat, you need to place a capillary mat at the base of the tray of your NFT hydroponic system. By using a capillary mat, it will reduce the precise flow of water so that it is able to increase the overall nutrient value of your hydroponic compost. As the system flows, you will be able to circulate quite a bit as long as the correct material is used. The material should always have good absorption, durability and drainage qualities so that you get a satisfactory result from your hydroponic system.
5. Old newspapers are the most suitable and cheapest material to use as capillary mats as they absorb water really well and distribute nutrients to plants properly. Although it is a good material, there is a disadvantage that it reaches the maximum level of absorption very quickly and removes excess easily. Plants grown hydroponically need oxygen for healthy growth and will suffocate if their roots get too much moisture.
6. Although newspapers lack elasticity when wet, they are a low-cost substitute used for household capillary mats. It is recommended to use at least 10 sheets of newspapers to create capillary mats, which are good for holding water so that it flows slightly upward.
7. Place these newspaper sheets neatly in the bottom of the NFT tray so that the plants can have quick access to nutrients for your hydroponic system to work effectively. In addition, the newspaper material also provides a natural acidity that helps neutralize the otherwise natural tendency of hydroponic nutrient solutions toward alkalinity.
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