Integrated rootzone management for successful soilless culture

Youbin Zheng
Soilless culture involves the production of plants using soilless growing substrates or using nutrient solution only (e.g., aeroponics, NFT and deep water system). Regardless of what system is used, it is essential to create a healthy rootzone environment for the plants. A healthy rootzone environment includes, at the very least, balanced nutrients, air (e.g., oxygen), and water at a plant-specific optimal temperature. To achieve a healthy rootzone environment requires an integrated approach, coined here as 'integrated rootzone management' (IRM). IRM considers all of the interconnected elements and properties of the rootzone (e.g., physical, chemical and biological), and how changing any one element can affect the others. People often ask “what is the best growing substrate for my operation?” or “how often should I fertigate my plants?” To correctly answer these types of questions, all the important growing environment components (e.g., microclimate, fertigation system) must be considered and an integrated approach must be taken. Otherwise, even when using the 'best' growing substrate, a crop can be over watered, creating an oxygen-deficient rootzone, leading to diseases such as pythium root rot. This paper discusses the concept of IRM, its rationale, and aspects to consider when managing rootzone in soilless production systems.
Zheng, Youbin (2020). Integrated rootzone management for successful soilless culture. Acta Hortic. 1273, 1-8
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2020.1273.1
growing substrate, IRM, nutrient, oxygen, pathogen, temperature, water

Acta Horticulturae