Quantitative Nutrient Management Reduces Nitrate Accumulation in Hydroponic Butterhead Lettuces Grown under Artificial Lighting

in HortScience

To reduce nitrate concentrations in vegetables grown under artificial lighting, we determined nitrate accumulation under various conditions of nitrate availability. Butterhead lettuce plants were grown with nutrient solutions of various concentrations, which were maintained according to electrical conductivity (EC) throughout the cultivation period. Under these conditions, growth in nutrient solutions with lower EC led to slight decreases in nitrate concentrations in leaves, but also decreased fresh and dry weights of shoots, leading to the risk of a yield loss under EC control management (ECM). By contrast, when total nitrate requirement was supplied only at the start of cultivation, nitrate concentrations in leaves were decreased significantly with only slightly reduced plant growth. Hence, marketable-sized butterhead lettuces with lower nitrate concentrations can be produced by supplying total nitrate requirements in the nutrient solution at the start of cultivation.

Contributor Notes

This study was supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (No. 26850157) and “Program to Disseminate Tenure Tracking System,” MEXT, Japan.

We would like to thank Yasuomi Ibaraki and Shinichi Ozaki of Yamaguchi University for their helpful discussions and suggestions.

Corresponding author. E-mail: sago@yamaguchi-u.ac.jp.

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Article Figures

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    Fresh weights, dry weights, and nitrate concentrations of butterhead lettuce shoots grown under different electrical conductivity of nutrient solution at 35 d after sowing; means of 10 plants are shown with ses. Means with the same letter are not significantly different; Tukey’s honestly significant difference test; P < 0.01.

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    Fresh weights, dry weights, and dry weight ratios of butterhead lettuce shoots after 35 d growth with various initial nitrate contents in nutrient solution; means of 10 plants are shown with ses. Means with the same letter are not significantly different; Tukey’s honestly significant difference test; P < 0.01.

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    SPAD indices, total soluble solids contents, and nitrate concentrations of butterhead lettuce shoots grown with various initial nitrate concentrations in nutrient solution at 35 d after sowing; means of 10 plants are shown with ses. Means with the same letter are not significantly different; Tukey’s honestly significant difference test; P < 0.01.

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    Daily changes in nitrate concentrations in the nutrient solution under ECM and QNM. EC = electrical conductivity; ECM = EC control management; QNM = quantitative nutrient management.

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    Total nitrogen absorption under various nitrate supply conditions with quantitative nutrient management; white bars indicate concentrations of nitrate in shoots after respective treatments.

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    Relationships between nitrate concentrations in leaves and total nitrogen absorption by plants grown with various nitrate contents of nutrient solutions with EC control management (a) and quantitative nutrient management (b); solid lines represent linear regressions; (a) y = 1.861 + 0.00376x; r = 0.998; P < 0.01; (b) y = −1.085 + 0.01246x; r = 0.971; P < 0.01. EC = electrical conductivity.

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    Rates of nitrate absorption () through butterhead lettuce roots with various nitrate concentrations in nutrient solutions () and nitrate mass flow through roots (·E); solid lines represent nonlinear regression fitting to in the concentration-dependent model (A) and in the transpiration integrated model (B). Michaelis–Menten constant (KM) and coefficients of determination (R2) are shown and the broken line indicates = [NO3]S·E.

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