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Study on nutrient control in electrical conductivity-based nutrient recycling soilless culture system

An electrical conductivity (EC)-based closed-loop soilless culture system is practical for in-field deployment. Literature on the closed-loop soilless culture nutrient management premise the limitations in managing recycled nutrients under dynamic changes in individual nutrient uptake concentrations. However, recent systems analysis studies predicting solutions for nutrient fluctuation stabilization in EC-based closed-loop soilless culture systems suggest that the system may have a deterministic side in nutrient variation. This study aims to derive a nutrient control principle in an EC-based nutrient recycling soilless culture system by theoretical and experimental analyses. An integrated model of solutes such as K+, Ca2+, and Mg2+ and water transport in growing media, automated nutrient solution preparation, and nutrient uptake was designed.

In the simulation, the intrinsic characteristics of nutrient changes among open-, semi- closed-, and closed-loop soilless cultures were compared, and stochastic simulations for nutrient control were performed in the closed-loop system. Four automated irrigation modules for comparing nutrient changes among the soilless culture systems were constructed in the greenhouse. Sweet pepper plants were used in the experiment. In the experimental analysis, nutrient concentration conversion to the proportion between nutrients revealed distinctive trends of nutrient changes according to the treatment level of drainage recycling.

Theoretical and experimental analyses exhibited those nutrient variations in open-, semi-, closed-, and closed-loop soilless culture systems can be integrated as a function of nutrient supply to the system’s boundary areas. Furthermore, stochastic simulation analysis indicated that the nutrient ratio in the soilless culture system reveals the nutrient uptake parameter-based deterministic patterns. Thus, the nutrient ratio in the closed-loop soilless culture could be controlled by the long-term feedback of this ratio. These findings can provide theoretical frameworks for systemizing nutrient management techniques in EC-based closed-loop soilless culture systems.

Read the complete research at

Ahn, Tae In & Shin, Jong Hwa & Son, Jung Eek. (2021). Theoretical and Experimental Analyses of Nutrient Control in Electrical Conductivity-Based Nutrient Recycling Soilless Culture System. Frontiers in Plant Science. 12. 656403. 10.3389/fpls.2021.656403. 

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