Dr. Allan Cooper’s 1960 aquaponics invention called the Nutrient Film Technique or NFT combines aquaculture and the hydroponics system. Growing at a rapid rate, NFT aquaponics has yielded great results. The functioning of NFT aquaponics is simple. Fish cultivated in a tank create effluent water that is toxic to the fish but highly nutritious to the plants. The plants are grown above the tank or on long pipes. The effluent water from the fish tank is pumped out through an outlet flowing through or over the roots of the plants thus providing the plants with nutrients, oxygen and water for a better and a healthy yield.
The biggest difference in terms of technicality that separates NFT aquaponics from the other aquaponics systems is presence of a separate bio filter for fine filtration of solid wastes. This system also performs solid mineralization in order to ensure that all the nutrient rich solid waste components reach the plants. Water circulation in the pipes resemble a thin film and hence the name. Though primarily hydroponic in nature NFT aquaponics is also regarded as an aquaponics system and is also suitable for cultivating vegetables and leafy vegetables.
There are numerous advantages of NFT aquaponics over the other hydroponic systems such as exposure of plants to adequate amounts of water, nutrients and oxygen. In other systems, there exists a deficiency of any one of the key requirements. Because of its design, NFT is widely practiced. Another advantage is that the key components, the fish and plants function effectively in co-existence as well as independently. This is really important in terms of business because even if one component does not function properly the other component functions effectively. The water flow is low in NFT aquaponics enabling the nutrients to reach the roots of the plants faster. In this method the water does not clog or over flow as the water is only one or at the maximum two millimeters deep.
NFT aquaponics is easy to operate and grows plants quickly and healthy too. Since this method uses holes as growing channels, plants branch in a structured manner. A simple NFT aquaponics does not require an additional bio filter but research shows that if a more complex NFT aquaponics is to be set up in the future, then bio filters would be required. In the present system water is constantly cleaned of solid waste components ensuring better water quality.
As a whole NFT aquaponics is a well-balanced system where nutrient accumulation is near zero percent. Nutrients are maintained at one particular level. High nutrient levels have a tendency to disrupt the entire NFT aquaponics system with the most likely issues being the deposition of solid particles.
Nutrient Film Technique is of high commercial value and has yielded high quality fruits, vegetables, leafy vegetables and protein rich fish. This system yields itself to energy and water savings and best of all requires NO weeding. Maintenance is minimal and pesticides and insecticides are not required thus reducing costs and is environmentally friendly. NFT aquaponics offers year around production of healthy fish, vegetables and flowers.