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Nutrient solution concentration on pepper grown in a soilless closed system: yield, fruit quality, water and nutrient efficiency

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The aim of the experiment was to verify how the adoption of a reduced strength nutrient solution in a soilless closed system could influence the production and quality of pepper and improve the use efficiency of water and minerals. Two nutrient solutions characterized by the same ion ratio but macronutrient concentration equal to 100% or 60% were adopted. The total yield did not differ between the treatments; however the lower concentration of nutrients determined a significant reduction of incidence of unmarketable fruits (blossom-end rot) and thus a higher marketable production (+15%). Within the fruit quality characteristics the dry matter content and the titratable acidity were significantly higher adopting the full strength nutrient solution. Important differences were found when the agronomic water use efficiency was considered: the weight of marketable pepper produced per m3 of water input was about 32% higher using the reduced concentration treatment according to the lower volume of water released in the environment due to the lower renewal of recirculated nutrient solution. A similar pattern was observed for the use efficiency of the main nutrients. With reduced strength nutrient solution the amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium released per ton of marketable tomatoes were respectively 83%, 80% and 81% lower than the control. The use of a reduced strength nutrient solution in soilless closed system for pepper cultivation did not influence the total yield and improved the use efficiency of water and minerals. Moreover, the environmental impact of the system was drastically reduced.

Keywords: Electrical conductivity; environment; nutrition; production; recirculation; strength

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Agriculture and Food Science,Catania University, Catania, Italy

Publication date: 2012-01-01

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