Date of Award

9-2013

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Plant, Soil & Insect Sciences

First Advisor

Lyle Craker

Second Advisor

Allen Barker

Third Advisor

Masoud Hashemi

Subject Categories

Chemical Engineering | Plant Sciences

Abstract

The plant-nutrient-water optimum interaction always has been a problematic program for plant growth and development. This work investigates this interaction using a split root nutrition system to determine possible changes in traditional hydroponics to enhance plant growth and development. While split root nutrition systems have been used experimentally to answer some specific questions, the technique has never been used in a production system for optimizing plant, nutrient, and water interaction. The introduction of hydroponics almost a hundred fifty years ago has not changed this situation fundamentally. Moreover, the norm of fertilizer application on agricultural crops has the advantage of increased productivity and reduced expenses. Results of the current research using split-root nutrition system suggest no differences between weekly application of nutrients and applying all nutrients necessary for all vegetation one time. Moreover productivity was increased significantly where the split-root, nutrition system was used to provide the experimental solution. Problems with traditional growing systems, such as optimizing pH of media, increasing productivity, improving quality of product by increasing phytochemicals were addressed using experimental nutrient solutions specifically for basil (Ocimum Basilicum L). The pH of the root zone was kept at the optimum level of 6.8 during the entire vegetation period. Split root nutrition system using experimental solution significantly increased productivity due to increasing water potential in one half of the root zone, an increased quality of basil, and an increased amount of enzyme activators which would not be possible using the traditional growing system due to toxicity.

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