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Brandon Jewell and Chieri Kubota

Feasible protocols for organic hydroponic production of strawberry are necessary and this study compares the yield and fruit quality of organic and conventional inorganic hydroponic production. Some issues identified with organic hydroponic strawberry production are: 1) dominant ammonium nitrogen form; 2) solution alkalinity; and 3) dissolved oxygen level of nutrient solution. Eighty bare-rooted `Diamante' plantlets were planted in coconut fiber pots with a mixture of coconut coir (30%) and perlite (70%) and grown in a modified nutrient film technique system inside a polycarbonate greenhouse. The organic nutrient solution contains mostly ammonium nitrogen and little nitrate nitrogen. To enhance colonization and activities of nitrifying bacteria, coconut fiber mats were placed in the organic nutrient solution reservoir. A similar system was also introduced for stock solution pre-conditioning where nitrification and pH stabilization were achieved before application to the strawberry plantlets. The organic nutrient solution prior to pre-conditioning had only 1.53 mg·L-1 nitrate nitrogen, although the nitrate nitrogen level increased to 63.2 mg·L-1 after pre-conditioning. The organic nutrient solution pH was 4.5 initially, 8.5 after 24 hours of pre-conditioning, and finally, shifted to and stabilized at 5.7–5.9 after 3 days. Dissolved oxygen level is critical for both nitrifying bacteria activities and plantlet root growth; therefore, oxygen enrichment was achieved by constantly aerating the nutrient solution in the reservoir, which raised the oxygen level from 2.5 to 7.4 mg·L-1. Comparisons of yield and quality of strawberry fruits between organic and inorganic nutrient solutions will be presented and further improvements of hydroponic systems will be discussed.

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Martin M. Maboko, Christian Phillipus Du Plooy, and Silence Chiloane

hydroponic systems has been questioned because a less consistent fraction of applied nutrient solution is discharged into the environment ( Sonneveld, 2002 ). This fraction varies largely as a function of several parameters, but in normal growing conditions

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Sharon L. Knight and Cary A. Mitchell

Abstract

Triacontanol (1-triacontanol) applied as a foliar spray at 10−7 m to 4-day-old, hydroponically grown leaf lettuce (Lactuca sativa L.) seedlings in a controlled environment increased leaf fresh and dry weight 13% to 20% and root fresh and dry weight 13% to 24% 6 days after application, relative to plants sprayed with water. When applied at 8 as well as 4 days after seeding, triacontanol increased plant fresh and dry weight, leaf area, and mean relative growth rate 12% to 37%. There was no benefit of repeating application of triacontanol in terms of leaf dry weight gain.

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Kellie J. Walters and Christopher J. Currey

et al., 2005 ). In controlled environments such as greenhouses, hydroponic systems are commonly used to produce basil ( Hochmuth and Cantliffe, 2012 ; Walters and Currey, 2015 ). Nutrient solutions can influence growth, appearance, nutritional value

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David G. Himelrick and W. A. Dozier Jr.

`Chandler' strawberry plants were grown in a nutrient flow hydroponic systems with six solution N treatments (35, 70, 140, 210, 280, 350 ppm). Plant architecture was influenced by solution N levels with 350 ppm producing small dark green leaves with short petioles while 35 ppm produced light green leaves with large leaf blades and long petioles. Other treatments were intermediate but similar to the 35 ppm with darker green foliage. The 210 ppm treatment produced the most runners per plant while the 350 ppm treatment produced the least. The 210 ppm treatment produced the most crowns per plant while the 35 ppm treatment produced the least. The highest seasonal fruit yield and largest berry size was produced in the 70 ppm treatment with the 350 treatment having the lowest yield and smallest berry size.

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P.P. David, A.A. Trotman, D.G. Mortley, C.K. Bonsi, P.A. Loretan, and W.A. Hill

Greenhouse studies were conducted to determine the effect of harvesting sweetpotato [Ipomoea batatas L. (Lam.)] foliage tips (terminal 15 cm) on storage root yield, edible biomass index (EBI), and linear growth rate. Plants were grown hydroponically from 15-cm vine cuttings planted in 0.15 × 0.15 × 1.2-m growth channels using a recirculating nutrient film technique system. Nutrients were supplied from a modified half-strength Hoagland solution with a 1 N: 2.4 K ratio. Foliage tips were removed at 14-day intervals beginning 42 days after transplanting. Final harvest was at 120 days after planting. At the end of the growing season, harvested foliage tips totaled 225 g/plant (fresh mass). Foliage removal significantly reduced storage root yield, shoot biomass, and linear growth rate expressed on a canopy cover basis. The EBI was higher for plants with foliage removed than for the control.

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B.A. Kratky

Total salable yields of `Vendor' greenhouse tomatoes produced with 4 non-circulating, hydroponic methods were not significantly different from yields produced with conventional soil bed culture (5.69 kg/plant).

Three methods employed a capillary, sub-irrigated system wherein the plant container rested in a shallow, covered, polyethylene-lined tank containing 5 cm of nutrient solution. Plant containers consisted of 7 and 25 liter plastic pots containing a 1 hapuu:2 cinder medium plus 1 and 2 plants, respectively, and rockwool blocks (7.5 × 7.5 × 6.5 cm) resting on larger rockwool blocks (15 × 15 × 7.5 cm).

The fourth method consisted of rockwool blocks (7.5 × 7.5 × 6.5 cm) resting on a screen placed in a covered, 20 cm deep, polyethylene-lined tank filled with nutrient solution.

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A.A. Trotman, C.E. Mortley, D.G. Mortley, P.P. David, and P.A. Loretan

Hydroponic growing systems have the potential to maximize phytomass production of peanut (Arachis hypogea) for Controlled Ecological Life Support Systems (CELSS). Two greenhouse experiments were conducted with plant nutrients supplied in a modified Evan's solutionusing a nutrient film technique. The objective of this research was to determine the effect of hydroponic growing systems on pod and foliage yield of `New Improved Spanish' and `Georgia Red' peanut. Sub-objectives were to evaluate (i) the impact of channel size and (ii) the impact of gradation in pore size on the separation of the rooting zone from the zone of gynophore development. The treatments consisted in the first experiment of a wide channel (122 by 15 by 46 cm) fitted with a perforated (3.0mm diam.) PVC grid; a narrow channel (122 by 15 by 15 cm) either fitted with a perforated grid or without a grid. For 'New Improved Spanish' peanut dry foliage yield tended to be higher in the wide channel treatment (0.33 kg/sq m). But the narrow channel yielded the highest mean pod dry weight (0.12 kg/sq m). Pore sizes of the screens ranged from infinity (no screen). perforated grid, square mesh. filtering screen (75u) and solid screen (no pores). For `Georgia Red' peanut, the impact of gradation in pore size of screens was variable: pod number was highest with the filtering (food) screen (216/sq m) but pod dry weight was highest for the square mesh treatment (0.09 kg/sq m). Foliage yield was significantly greater for the filtering (food) screen (1.12 kg/sq m) than in any of the other treatments. The findings of the research indicate that use of screens is feasible and will not retard pod development. The presence of a perforated grid tended to result in lower phytomass production for `New Improved Spanish' peanut.

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Audrey A. Trotman, P. David, D. Mortley, and J. Seminara

In a greenhouse experiment, the effect of the addition of higher levels of potassium (K) in the replenishment stock used to supply nutrients in a nutrient film technique system was examined. For this study, `TU-82-155' sweetpotato was grown hydroponically for 120 days under four nutrient application/replenishment treatments: 1) REG—solution was changed at 14-day intervals and volume allowed to fluctuate; 2) MHH—replenishment with 10× concentrate of a modified half Hoagland solution (MHH) or with water to regain set volume (30.4 liters) and maintain set point of electrical conductivity (EC, 1050–1500 μmho); 3) MHH + 2K—daily replenishment with 10× concentrate of a modified half Hoagland solution (MHH) or with water to regain the set volume and adjust EC to 1400 followed by application of 50 ml of a 2K stock solution to an EC of 1500; 4) MHH/2K—replenishment with 10× concentrate of a modified half Hoagland solution that incorporated the 2K component or with water to regain set volume (30.4 liters) and maintain set point of electrical conductivity (EC, 105–1500 μmho). The storage root yield (g fresh weight per plant) was significantly higher when the 2K treatment was incorporated with the 10× MHH stock. The storage root yield averaged 324.8 g/plant compared with a yield of 289.6 and 252.9 g/plant, respectively, for the REG and MHH nutrient application protocol. As in earlier experiments, the MHH treatment was comparable to the REG protocol, validating the use of a replenishment approach for nutrient supply in hydroponic sweetpotato culture.

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Bruce Bugbee

There is an increasing need to recirculate and reuse nutrient solutions to reduce environmental and economic costs. However, one of the weakest points in hydroponics is the lack of information on managing the nutrient solution. Many growers and research scientists dump out nutrient solutions and refill at weekly intervals. Some authors have recommended measuring the concentrations of individual nutrients in solution as a key to nutrient control and maintenance. Dumping and replacing solution is unnecessary. Monitoring ions in solution is unnecessary; in fact the rapid depletion of some nutrients often causes people to add toxic amounts of nutrients to the solution. Monitoring ions in solution is interesting, but it is not the key to effective maintenance. During the past 18 years, we have managed nutrients in closed hydroponic systems according to the principle of “mass balance,” which means that the mass of nutrients is either in solution or in the plants. We add nutrients to the solution depending on what we want the plant to take up. Plants quickly remove their daily ration of some nutrients while other nutrients accumulate in the solution. This means that the concentrations of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium can be at low levels in the solution (<0.1 mM) because these nutrients are in the plant where we want them. Maintaining a high concentrations of some nutrients in the solution (especially P, K, and Mn) can result in excessive uptake that can lead to nutrient imbalances.