Optimizing plant nutrition for production of vegetables and cut flowers in open and closed hydroponic systems
Hydroponic systems belong to the standard technology in modern high-tech greenhouses, while they are increasingly adapted also in greenhouses of a low or medium technological standard to cope with the soil-borne diseases and the diminishing soil fertility due to monoculture. However, the management of nutrition in soilless cultivations poses serious difficulties to growers, because the calculation of the fertilizers needed to prepare nutrient solutions (NS) requires a good background in chemistry and is time consuming. Furthermore, the composition of the NS supplied to the plants needs modifications during cultivation, depending on the crop developmental stage. The calculations have to be individually performed for each grower and cropping stage, because the mineral composition of the irrigation water used to prepare NS varies depending on the location of the greenhouse. Thus, there is a need for modern computational tools operating as decision support systems (DSS) which can provide easy and accurate calculation of NS in each commercial enterprise whenever needed. In the present paper, a novel software operating as a decision support system for greenhouse crops grown hydroponically is presented, which can be used to automatically calculate NS and readjust their composition during the cultivation. The DSS is based on a database with standard recommendations regarding the target NS characteristics for all important crops in the greenhouse production sector. In addition to the plant species and the mineral composition of the irrigation water, the season of the year, the plant developmental stage, the mean drainage fraction in substrate-grown crops, the soilless cultivation system (e.g., open or closed), etc. should be introduced to the DSS to obtain an output. In the current paper, some results from the application of this novel software in a tomato crop grown in a closed hydroponic system are presented and discussed.
Savvas, D. (2021). Optimizing plant nutrition for production of vegetables and cut flowers in open and closed hydroponic systems. Acta Hortic. 1321, 71-86
decision support system, greenhouse crop, hydroponics, nutrient solution, soilless culture