Quality Control Techniques and Related Factors for Hydroponic Leafy Vegetables

in HortScience

Hydroponics has been an increasingly important field of vegetable production. However, a big issue with hydroponics is that certain crops can quickly accumulate high levels of nitrate-N (NO3 ± -N) from the hydroponic system. The objective of this research was to decrease NO3 accumulation and increase the nutritional value and yield of vegetable crops using lettuce and oilseed rape as a model under hydroponic production. In this study, two technologies were applied to leafy vegetable production: 1) using supplementary lighting (blue-violet diode) by manipulating illumination and 2) removing fertilization before harvest for a short term (3 or 5 days), thus providing a practical experiment for improving yield and edible qualities of hydroponic leaf vegetable production. Illumination was applied 4 hours a day (0500–0700 hr and 1700–1900 hr) during good weather, or 12 hours a day during bad weather with insufficient natural light (<2000 lux) during the autumn and winter seasons. Results showed that the lettuce cultivar Ou-Luo and the oilseed rape cultivar Ao-Guan Pakchoi had increased yield (50.0% and 88.3%, respectively), decreased NO3 content (26.3% and 30.8%, respectively), and increased total soluble solids (24.1% and 30.6%, respectively). The 5-day fertilizer-free treatment before harvest resulted in 19.2%, 6.4%, and 16.5% yield increases; and 26.0%, 24.3%, and 47.8% NO3 decreases in oilseed rape cultivar Ao-Guan Pakchoi and lettuce cultivars Da-Su-Sheng and Ou-Luo, respectively.

Contributor Notes

Corresponding authors. E-mail: donglingdi@163.com or heixiazi2006@gmail.com.

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    (A) The varieties of leafy greens used in the experiment (from top to bottom): lettuce of Da-Su-Sheng, oilseed rape of Ao-Guan Pakchoi, and lettuce of Ou-Luo. (B) The plants and light-emitting diode (LED) arrangements. SL3, single light 75 cm from the vertical light (VL) hole; SL2, single light 50 cm from the VL hole; SL1, single light 25 cm from the VL hole; OL1, overlapping light at 25 cm from the VL hole; OL2, overlapping light at 50 cm from the VL hole; OL3, overlapping light at 75 cm from the VL hole. (C) Light intensities in different positions. SW, southwest; NW, northwest; SE, southeast; SW, southwest.

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