3.3.4 Nutrient film technique
The nutrient film technique (NFT) is a modification of the
hydroponic plant growth system in which plants are grown directly on an
impermeable surface to which a thin film of wastewater is continuously applied
(Figure 10). Root production on the impermeable surface is high and the large
surface area traps and accumulates matter. Plant top-growth provides nutrient
uptake, shade for protection against algal growth and water removal in the form
of transpiration, while the large mass of self-generating root systems and
accumulated material serve as living filters. Jewell et al. (1983) have
hypothesized the following mechanisms, taking place in three plant sections:
- Roughing or preliminary treatment by plant species
with large root systems capable of surviving and growing in a grossly polluted
condition. Large sludge accumulations, anaerobic conditions and trace metal
precipitation and entrapment characterize this mechanism and a large portion of
wastewater BOD and suspended solids would thereby be removed.
- Nutrient conversion and recovery due to high
- Wastewater polishing during nutrient-limited plant
production, depending on the required effluent quality.
A three year pilot-scale study by Jewell et al. (1983)
proved this to be a viable alternative for sewage treatment. Reed canary grass
was used as the main test species and resulted in the production of better than
secondary effluent quality at an application rate of 10 cm/d of settled domestic
sewage and synthetic wastewater. The highest loading rates achieved were
equivalent to treating the sewage generated by a population of 10,000 on an area
of 2 ha. Plants other than reed canary grass were also tested and those that
flourished best in the NFT system were: cattails, bulrush, strawflowers,
Japanese millet, roses, Napier grass, marigolds, wheat and phragmites.
technique variation of hydroponic plant production systems (Jewell et al.