Capillary Mats for Hydroponic NFT system

The Hydroponic Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) method falls under the active recovery type hydroponic system and is also one of the most popular methods being used by most hydroponic enthusiasts. Over the years, the use and importance of Hydroponic systems have either been underrated or underestimated. Some of us think that Hydroponic system is an expensive method of doing your gardening, but as a matter of fact it is not what most people assume of it to be. In fact, it is a very affordable way to control and grow your own herbs, flowers, or vegetables. The NFT provides evenly and steady distribution of water along with nutrients, which results to highly effective yielding of crops. It is quite easy to set-up the NFT method and in order to have a more effective result, you can add a capillary mat when applying the method. In fact, it is a very affordable way to control and grow your own herbs, flowers, or vegetables. Hydroponic Nutrient Film Technique (NFT) method is one of the ways being used by most of the hydroponic gardeners. This is due to the evenly and steady distribution of water along with nutrients, which proves to be highly effective leading to the overall higher yielding of crops. The NFT method is easy to set up and in order to have more effective result you can add a capillary mat when applying the method. You can even find ready-made NFT system directly at an affordable price from your local hobby store and as for the capillary mat, it is easy to make once you follow the instructions in this article.

What you need:

  1. NFT equipments
  2. Capillary mats


  1. The NFT technique is considered to be one of the low maintenance types of hydroponic system. However, some of the methods for NFT gardening comes with expensive equipments while some of them are inexpensive.
  2. Normally the expensive type of NFT method uses sophisticated pumps, thermometers and timers so that you will be able to precisely calibrate the delivery of moisture and nutrients needed for the plants that you are growing. As for the inexpensive NFT method, you just can use manually water usage. Whichever method that you decide to chose, you should know better and know what is the best method suitable for your hydroponic gardens.
  3. The basic principle of NFT method is the usage of a very thin film of nutrient-rich moisture that enables the plants to have constant access to it. Due to constant access to the nutrients, which is in water soluble form, the plant’s roots will be able to have much easier time obtaining the right amount of nutrients to grow. Besides that, the constant access of nutrients can provide higher plant yields and this is the reason why this method is commonly used.
  4. If you are new to hydroponic gardening, it is wise to use a capillary mat in order to make the process more consistent and much easier especially for beginners. The capillary mat is used because it is typically permeable and absorbent thus able to transfer the nutrient rich moisture directly to your plants.
  5. In order to make a homemade capillary mat, you need to place the capillary mat at the base of the tray of your NFT hydroponic system.
  6. By using a capillary mat, it will slow down the exact flow of water so that it will be able to maximize the overall nutrient value of your hydroponic fertilizer. As the system flows, you would be able to have quite a bit of circulation as long as the right material is being used. The material should always have good qualities of absorption, durability, and drainage so that you will see a good result of your hydroponic system.
  7. From a research done by Ken Sanderson of the Auburn University Agricultural Experiment Station, old newspapers are the right choice of materials to use as capillary mats because they absorb water very well and distribute nutrients aptly to the plants. Although it is considered a good material, there is a disadvantage such as it reaches its maximum level of absorption fast and drains excesses readily.
  8. Hydroponic grown plants need to have access to oxygen to grow healthily and if its roots receive too much moisture, it will suffocate.
  9. The lack of resilience to wet conditions is just a small matter because the material is a low cost replacement and also recycle-able as your homemade capillary mats. It is recommended that you use at least 10 sheets of newspaper for creating your capillary mats, which is enough to hold your water to flow up a little bit.
  10. All theses newspaper sheets have to be placed precisely below your NFT tray so that the plants would be able to have instant access to nutrients thus making your hydroponic system work successfully. In addition, the newspaper material also provides natural acidity that helps standardize the otherwise natural tendency of hydroponic nutrient solutions towards alkalinity.

Additional Reading:

Hydroponics: Soilless Gardening Explained

Tomato Plant Culture In the Field, Greenhouse, and Home Garden