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- Author or Editor: Martin M. Maboko x
Reduced nutrient concentration (NC) through fertigation in an open-bag hydroponic system with additional foliar fertilizer application may reduce nutrient wastage and thus decrease the production costs. A study was conducted to determine the effect of foliar fertilizer in combination with reduced NCs on the yield and quality of hydroponically grown cherry and fresh market (FM) tomatoes in a shadenet structure. In the first experiment, FM tomato plants were grown in sawdust fertigated with nutrient solutions containing 100% (control), 75%, 50%, or 25% of the recommended NC. Marketable yield and fruit mineral content were unaffected by NC, whereas the total yield decreased with a decrease in NC. The second and third experiments were on FM and cherry tomatoes, respectively, subjected to four NCs (100%, 75%, 50%, or 25%) and two foliar fertilizer applications (no foliar and foliar application). Fresh and dry weight of FM and cherry tomato plants decreased with a decrease in NC application. Marketable yield on FM tomatoes increased with 50% to 100% NC, whereas the total yield increased with 75% and 100% NC, as compared with 25% NC. Cherry tomatoes produced lower marketable yield at 25% and 50% NC, as compared with 75% and 100% NC. Foliar fertilizer application did not have an effect on FM and cherry tomato yield, but improved the plant dry weight of cherry tomatoes. Fruit and leaf Ca content of FM tomatoes were improved by the decrease in the NC. Fruit mineral content (K, P, Ca, Mg, and Zn) of cherry tomatoes increased with an increase in NC. The improvement in yield was primarily due to nutrient uptake, especially, N, P, and K, as determined in tomato leaves. Reduced NC of 50% can maintain yield and quality of FM tomatoes, whereas application of foliar fertilizer had a limited effect. In cherry tomatoes, yield and fruit mineral content were maintained at 75% NC combined with foliar fertilizer application. The findings of this research may reduce nutrient wastage and result in a cost saving of 25% and 50% on fertilizer input costs on cherry and FM tomatoes, respectively, and reduce the risk associated with water pollution.
Nutrient application is one of the major inputs required for hydroponic production of cucumbers. Reduced nutrient solution concentration with supplementary foliar fertilizer application may maintain yield and quality of mini-cucumber, while decreasing the production costs. An experiment was conducted to determine the effect of foliar fertilizer in combination with reduced nutrient concentrations on the yield and quality of hydroponically grown mini-cucumber in a plastic tunnel. Mini-cucumber plants were grown in sawdust, fertigated with nutrient solutions containing 100% (control), 75%, 50%, or 25% of the recommended nutrient concentration (NC) and two foliar fertilizer applications (no foliar and foliar application). The highest fresh and dry weight of mini-cucumber plants were obtained with 75% and 100% NC and decreased with 50% to 25% NC application. The number of marketable fruit and marketable yield on mini-cucumbers increased with 75% to 100% NC, followed by 50% NC, as compared with 25% NC. Deformed fruit were significantly lower at 25% NC than at 50%, 75%, and 100% NC. Foliar fertilizer application did not have an effect on mini-cucumber yield, but reduced the yellowing of fruit. Fruit mineral content (P, Fe, and Mn) was significantly improved by 100% NC. Improvement in yield at 75% and 100% NC was as a result of improved plant height, leaf chlorophyll content, plant fresh and dry weight, and the increase in nutrient uptake of N, P, K, and Mn, which was evident in the analysis of cucumber leaves. The reduced NC of 75% can maintain yield and quality of mini-cucumbers, whereas the application of foliar fertilizer had a limited effect.
Beetroot (Beta vulgaris), commonly known as table beet, is used as a staple in the diet of many people through the consumption of the entire plant, leaf, and the root. The objective of this study was to assess the effects of nitrogen (N) application and leaf harvest percentage on the yield and quality of roots and leaves of beetroot. The treatment design was a randomized complete block design with five levels of N (0, 60, 90, 120, and 150 kg·ha−1) combined with three leaf harvest percentages (0, 30, and 50) and replicated three times. The first leaf harvest was initiated 35 days after transplanting (DAT) by removing the outer matured leaves and the second harvest occurred 80 DAT by removing all the leaves. The results showed increases in leaf and root yield with an increase in N application. Nitrogen application at 90 and 120 kg·ha−1 increased fresh leaf weight, leaf number, and fresh and dry root weight, including root diameter and length with the exception of leaf area which was significantly higher at 120 kg·ha−1 N. Magnesium and iron leaf content, and N root content were significantly improved by the application of 120 kg·ha−1 N. Leaf harvest percentage did not have a significant effect on leaf yield or leaf and root mineral content. However, dry root weight was significantly reduced by the 50% leaf harvest. Leaf harvest at 30% or 50% increased total protein content of the roots of beetroot, whereas an increase in N application decreased concentration of total proteins. Results demonstrate that leaf and root yield, as well as magnesium, zinc, and iron leaf content, increased with the application of 120 kg·ha−1 N, whereas 30% leaf harvest did not negatively affect root yield.