This experiment evaluated petunia (Petunia ×hybrida ‘Celebrity’) growth response to amending a commercial potting mix (F3B) with different amounts of dewatered aquaculture effluent (AE) and fertigating with a water-soluble, inorganic fertilizer or municipal water. The experiment was a completely randomized 2 × 5 factorial design with eight single-pot replications per treatment. At 39 days after planting (DAP), a significant (P ≤ 0.05) substrate and water interaction existed for petunia growth index (GI), bloom count (BC), fresh weight (FW), and dry weight (DW). The 100% F3B, 5% AE, and 10% AE substrates benefited with a significantly (P ≤ 0.05) greater BC, FW, and DW when fertigation was used; however, the water source had no effect on petunia BC, FW, or DW for levels ≥25% AE. Fertigating substrates amended with increasing levels of AE did not improve petunia growth. Conversely, when applying municipal water plant, FW and DW were the greatest using 25% AE.
Raised bed production trials were conducted to evaluate the effectiveness of effluent from a biofloc-style recirculating aquaculture system producing nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) as nutrient-rich irrigation water for fall ‘Celebrity’ tomato (Solanum lycopersicum) production. The objective of this study was to provide baseline vegetable production data and justification for using aquaculture effluent as a water and nutrient resource. The experiment was a split-plot, randomized block design with three treatments: aquaculture effluent, granular fertilizer, and fertigation. Tomato seeds were sown in June, transplanted in August, and grown until Oct. 2019 in nine replicated raised beds. Conventional field tomato production practices were followed throughout the trial, and data were collected for tomato fruit yield, market quality, size, leaf greenness (SPAD), and foliar nutrient analysis. Fruit yield was similar between fertigated and aquaculture effluent treatments, with granular fertilizer resulting in yield that was significantly lower (P ≤ 0.033). SPAD measurements were similar among treatments. All nutrients met or exceeded sufficiency ranges. Foliar nutrient analysis revealed no significant difference for nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium, boron, zinc, manganese, and iron among treatments. Sulfur and copper levels were significantly lower (P < 0.05) with aquaculture effluent treatment as compared with the granular and fertigated treatments. Overall, tomato production using aquaculture effluent as a water and nutrient supplement produced similar yields to commercial practices, making it potentially viable for producers.