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2) Vegetable Crops Physiology
3) Integrated Controlled Environment Agriculture & Hydroponic Production
4) Drought Physiology & Plant Water Relations.
Program Mission and Goal
- The goal of the Lincoln University Sustainable Hydroponic Research Program (SHRP) since it was founded in 2005 is to increase the productive capacity of the small-scale hydroponic industry in Missouri, by providing grower education on profitable, but environmentally sustainable methods of soilless and hydroponic crops production.
- Projects designed to accomplish this goal utilizes cost effective, simplified technologies and novel strategies for hydroponic crop culture that is consistent with the 1890 mission. That is, providing education, and improving the economic well-being of limited resource individuals, families and small-scale commercial growers in Missouri, while training future generations of horticultural scientists.
- Current research focus is on (1) screening and evaluation of various vegetable crops, culinary herbs and small fruits (blueberries and strawberries) in hydroponic systems for niche and specialty markets, and (2) sustainable hydroponic nutrient management. In addition to sustainable food production, the SHRP supports an innovative platform for education in agriculture, biology, biochemistry, and environmental sciences to students at Lincoln University.
What does the program do, and what is its impact?
- Phase one of the hydroponic research program involved development of 'sustainable small-scale hydroponic cropping of specialty vegetables and herbs for limited resource growers,' and focused on the screening of various vegetables and culinary herbs, and the evaluation of commercial fertilizers as sources of crop mineral nutrition for limited resource hydroponic production.
- The program have been optimizing methods to use non-hydroponically formulated but cheaper, commonly available soluble fertilizers for hydroponic production of various vegetable and herb crops. With the use of a single source soluble compound fertilizer to make hydroponic nutrient solution, the grower need not possess the specialty skills needed to mix correct amounts of different inorganic plant nutrient reagents.
- The grower is able to sustain the high yield and quality potential of hydroponically grown crops through proper management of plant nutrition. Improved fertilizer-use efficiency increases profitability as the cost of production is reduced by up to 20%. The second phase focused on 'soilless substrate evaluation and nutrient management in sustainable small-scale hydroponic production.' The current and third phase evaluates 'the yield and quality response of vegetable crops to nutrient solution nitrogen composition.'
- This research program benefits the entire society, by educating hydroponic growers on how to conserve water and plant nutrients: using irrigation water and fertilizer more precisely. Hydroponic operations withdraw less ground water, leaving more water for other uses in the community. At an application rate of 0.6 acre-foot of irrigation water to field crops, 50,000,000 gallons less water per year is needed to produce enough tomatoes for one million people in the U.S., using the efficient hydroponic plant nutrient management techniques developed. The amount of water saved here is enough to supply about 400 households or 1,000 people.
Benefits of Hydroponic Food Production
This research project: 'MOLU-HYDROPONICS-5 & 6' is funded by the Evans-Allen and the 1890 Capacity Building Grants of the USDA's National Institute of Agriculture and Food (NIFA). The research is being conducted at Lincoln University of Missouri, Jefferson City, MO 65101; and addresses the NIFA priority area of "Sustainable Agriculture".
URLs to publications & Conference Presentations from this Program that are Accessible Online:
- Yield and Mineral Element Concentration of Beetroot in Response to Nutrient Source in Hydroponic Solution
- Influence of Nutrient Source and Growing Environment on Tissue Elemental Concentration and Yield of Cos Lettuce in Hydroponic Culture
- YIELD AND LEAF ELEMENTAL CONCENTRATION OF BEETROOT IN RESPONSE TO NUTRIENT SOLUTION COMPOSITION IN HYDROPONIC CULTURE
- Influence of Mineral Nutrient Source in NFT System and Temperature on the Yield of Cos Lettuce `Cimmaron'
- Leaf Growth and Nutrient Element Uptake by Adventitious Roots of Collards in Hydroponic Solution of Variable Composition
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Completed Research & Current Research Projects:
Published in USDA CRIS