Anna DeVitto, MS Student

Biological Sciences: Agricultural Sciences - MSAnna  DeVitto, MS Student

Dr. Todd Guerdat

Optimizing nutrients in hydroponic plant systems

Hydroponic plant production allows plants to be grown in a nutrient water solution, where the nutrients are derived from chemical fertilizers. Aquaponics is similar as the plants are grown in water rather than soil, but the nutrients are derived naturally from fish waste. My research is looking at how we can use concepts from both of these systems to create an efficient system that can be replicated on a commercial scale, where nutrients are optimized in plants, while reducing inputs such as fish feed and chemical fertilizers.

We will be setting up a hydroponic system as a control, a coupled aquaponic system (where fish and plants are being grown in the same system), as well as a decoupled aquaponic system, where we are using aquaculture effluent from another research facility as our source of solution. To replicate a farm scale operation, we will begin our systems growing lettuce in a NFT (Nutrient- Film Technique), and then advance to a slightly more specialized crop, growing day-neutral strawberries. For the vegetable crops, we are looking at nutrient analyses in roots, plant tissue, and fruit. We also will look at yields, quality of the crop, resistance to disease, ability withstand temperature chance, and compare these factors within each different system