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Vegetable Production


Fertilizer and Cultivar Evaluation in a Hydroponic System

Hydroponic, a method to grow plants in a nutrient solution without soil in a controlled environment, has various benefits over traditional field production like high growth rate, production increase up to 10 times, production on unsuitable land, no weeds, and less abiotic stress due to the environment. Hydroponics permits good control over plant growth and development by proper climate management and use of well-balanced nutrient solution that meet the nutritional requirement of the crop and cultivar. So it is important that the appropriate fertilizer is utilized to avoid the buildup of the toxins, nutrition abnormalities, and to increase yields. There are many fertilizers available in market, but crop specific information is lacking on which products work best. So our research is evaluating different fertilizers (Jacks, Peters, Dyna Gro) on bell peppers, eggplant, tomato, cucumber, lettuce, chard, and basil using at least two cultivars of each in either Dutch buckets or NFT. The cultivar to be selected for hydroponics should have a high yield potential and high market value so that cost incurred in hydroponics setup can be compensated. Although yield data is still being taken, it is clear that Dyna Gro 7-9-5 does not perform as well for bell peppers, eggplant, and lettuce, but is good for Swiss chard.

Plant Nutrients Affect Growth and Yield of Tomato Plants

A two-year study was conducted to investigate the effect of applying nutrients in the planting hole while transplanting tomatoes in the field on plant growth and yield.  In the first year, TerraPhos (also called magamp or struvite), a slowly soluble fertilizer was compared to a Floricote, a controlled release fertilizer of similar nutrient content.  In the second year, TerraPhos was tested with the individual chemical elements that make up TerraPhos as separate single element treatments.  No negative effects were noted with respect to placing any of the fertilizers into the planting holes.  Manuscripts reporting the results of this study will be forthcoming.