Stabilization of pH in Solid-matrix Hydroponic Systems

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  • 1 National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Specialized Center of Research and Training in Bioregenerative Life Support, Department of Horticulture, 1165 Horticulture Building, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-1165

2-[N-morpholino] ethanesulfonic acid (MES) buffer or Amberlite DP-1 (cation-exchange resin beads) were used to stabilize substrate pH of passive-wicking, solid-matrix hydroponic systems in which small canopies of Brassica napus L. (CrGC 5-2, genome: ACaacc) were grown to maturity. Two concentrations of MES (5 or 10 m m) were included in Hoagland 1 nutrient solution. Alternatively, resin beads were incorporated into the 2 vermiculite: 1 perlite (v/v) growth medium at 6% or 12% of total substrate volume. Both strategies stabilized pH without toxic side effects on plants. Average seed yield rates for all four pH stabilization treatments (13.3 to 16.9 g·m-2·day-1) were about double that of the control (8.2 g·m-2·day-1), for which there was no attempt to buffer substrate pH. Both the highest canopy seed yield rate (16.9 g·m-2·day-1) and the highest shoot harvest index (19.5%) occurred with the 6% resin bead treatment, even though the 10 mm MES and 12% bead treatments maintained pH within the narrowest limits. The pH stabilization methods tested did not significantly affect seed oil and protein contents.

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