The present study aims to test the effect of a nutrient solution, with the addition of microbial inoculum, on the growth and mineral composition of ‘Hilbert’ and ‘Barlach’ lettuce cultivars (Lactuca sativa var. crispa, L.) and basil (Ocimum basilicum, L.) cultivated in a vertical indoor farm.

These crops were grown in four different variants of nutrient solution: (1) hydroponic; (2) aquaponic, derived from a recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) with rainbow trout; (3) aquaponic, treated with Trichoderma harzianum; (4) aquaponic, treated with Bacillus mojavensis. The benefits of T. harzianum inoculation were most evident in basil, where a significantly higher number of leaves (by 44.9%), a higher nitrate content (by 36.4%), and increased vitamin C (by 126.0%) were found when compared to the aquaponic variant. Inoculation with T. harzianum can be recommended for growing basil in N-limited conditions. B. mojavensis caused a higher degree of removal of Na+ and Cl− from the nutrient solution (243.1% and 254.4% higher, respectively, in comparison to the aquaponic solution). This is desirable in aquaponics as these ions may accumulate in the system solution. B. mojavensis further increased the number of leaves in all crops (by 44.9–82.9%) and the content of vitamin C in basil and ‘Hilbert’ lettuce (by 168.3 and 45.0%) compared to the aquaponic solution.

The inoculums of both microbial species used did not significantly affect the crop yield or the activity of the biofilter. The nutrient levels in RAS-based nutrient solutions are mostly suboptimal or in a form that is unavailable to the plants; thus, their utilization must be maximized. These findings can help to reduce the required level of supplemental mineral fertilizers in aquaponics.

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Optimization of Plant Nutrition in Aquaponics: The Impact of Trichoderma harzianum and Bacillus mojavensis on Lettuce and Basil Yield and Mineral Status by Kateřina Patloková and Robert Pokluda
Department of Vegetable Sciences and Floriculture, Mendel University in Brno, 69144 Lednice, Czech Republic