NFT Vine Crop Systems
Vine Crop NFT Systems are a popular choice for commercial hydroponic growers of tomatoes, capsicums, beans, cucumbers, Eggplants and other vine crops .
The international production of vine crops is largely dominated by Drip Fertigation systems which are typically non recirculating (run to waste). In Drip Systems the plants are grown in media filled bags and are intermittently fed with drippers. Most Drip Fertigation systems are not recirculating.
Because of the increasing need to conserve water and nutrient resources the use of NFT systems for Vine Crop production is experiencing resurgence.
NFT systems which are used for Vine crops are a totally different growing method:
- Nutrient is recirculated 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
- Water and nutrient usage is very efficient
- Gullies are fixed in place so there is no lengthy downtime when crops are changed over after each cycle. The plants just need to be removed from the greenhouse and the gullies are then cleaned and sanitised allowing the next crop to be immediately replanted. Pure Hydroponics uses two piece clip on lid gullies for this purpose to make cleaning and sanitation an easy task.
- The capital cost of an NFT system is higher than a Drip Fertigation system (due to it being largely made of UV stabilised PVC) but it is a one of investment that lasts at least 20 years.
- With a well designed NFT system and the correct growing technique a grower can achieve higher yields than a Drip Fertigation system in the same conditions.
- The Vine Crop NFT systems typically use 155x70mm gully or 225x80mm gully with removable lids.
- Gullies are positioned on a sloping floor or on a support stand in single or double rows which are usually 6 metres or 12 metres long.
- Each double row of gully typically has a minimum 850mm wide pathway around all four corners of the bench. This allows easy access at all times and enables trolleys and other equipment to be used around the benches without any restrictions.
- At one end of the NFT gullies is the Feedpipe system which pumps a thin film of nutrient solution into the top of each gully. The feed pipe system has an adjustable control valve to allow at least a 1 litre per minute flow rate to be maintained down each gully.
- Two 4mm I.D feeder microtubes per gully are used so that if one blocks the other can still function. A rubber top hat grommet holds the microtubes in place on each gully.
- At the opposite end of the bench a catchment system is installed. This is usually a light proof gutter with slots to allow the tips of each gully to be inserted. As the nutrient solution flows out of the gullies and into the catchment system it is diverted into a common area where it falls into a vertical return pipe and down into a gently sloping return pipe. The return pipe collects all the return solution from nearby benches and directs it back to the mixing tank in the pump room.
- A sanitation system in the pump room (e.g Oxine or Ozone) targets any pathogens which may be introduced into the mixing tank.
- A minimum 1:40 slope is maintained down each gully to enable a thin film of nutrient solution to be maintained and to prevent any ponding.
- Growers can steer the crops to be more vegetative or generative or to have hard or soft foliage by adjusting the nutrient strength (EC) of the nutrient solution.
Pure Hydroponics can design and supply full Vine Crop NFT systems to fit an existing greenhouse or we can supply a turn-key system comprising of a Vine Crop NFT system, greenhouse and climate control.
For growers located in distant countries we also offer a shopping list and design service which allows growers to source PVC pipework and common equipment locally and Pure Hydroponics supplies the specialist equipment only such as NFT gullies, dosing control system and NFT system accessories. This keeps freight costs down for the grower and can make the overall project more affordable.
Please contact Pure Hydroponics for a per m2 estimate for an Vine Crop NFT system or a quotation for shopping list and design services.
All interested parties must complete the attached Commercial Design Questionnaire as part of their enquiry.