The Overall Effects of Soilless Agricultural System on Basil (Ocimum basilicum L.)

Authors:Mullis David, Reyes José


Climate change and population growth have reduced global resources, posing challenges to traditional agricultural systems. Alternative agricultural practices such as aquaponics (including crops and aquatic species) and hydroponics (including crops only) have the potential to use limited land, water and no soil to increase yield per unit area. From August 2015 to November 2015, soilless agricultural research was conducted at Georgia Southern University in Georgia, USA. The growth, yield, quality and nutritional of basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) cultivar Aroma 2, were compared between aquaponic and hydroponic systems using crayfish (Procambarus spp.) as the aquatic species. The non-circulating floating raft system is designed using a 95 L polyethylene water tank. An equal amount of starting fertilizer was applied to both systems. The goal is to understand how other nutritional dynamics related to crayfish affect the basil crop. The weight of fresh and dried basil plants was collected after harvest and subjected to leaf nutrient analysis. The leaf chlorophyll content, water pH, nitrogen and temperature were measured periodically. Compared with aquaponics basil (HyB), the height, fresh weight and dry weight of hydroponic basil (AqB) increased by 14%, 56% and 65%, respectively. It is reasonable to assume that crayfish waste (feces and unedible feed) has provided additional nutrients to AqB, leading to greater growth and yield. However, there was no difference in chlorophyll content (plant quality) or leaf nutrients between AqB and HyB. In soilless systems, further studies of aquaponic crayfish production, overall nutritional dynamics, cost-effectiveness ratio, and other plant characteristics are needed.

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