2022 journal article
Impact of Macronutrient Fertility on Mineral Uptake and Growth of Lactuca sativa 'Salanova Green' in a Hydroponic System
Lactuca sativa (commonly referred to as lettuce) is one of the most popular grown hydroponic crops. While other fertilizer rate work has been conducted on lettuce, the impact of each element has not been evaluated independently or by determining adequate foliar tissue concentrations when all nutrients are plant-available. This study explores the impact that macronutrients have on the growth and yield of lettuce at different stages of the production cycle. Additionally, this study explores the adequate nutrient rates by regressing nutrient curves to find the concentration of each element that corresponds to optimal growth. Plants were grown under varying macronutrient concentrations (0, 8, 16, 32, 64, and 100%) utilizing the concentrations of a modified Hoagland’s solution based on 150 mg·L−1 N. Lettuce plants were grown in a silica sand culture and received a nutrient solution in which a single element was altered. Visual symptomology was documented, and leaf tissue mineral nutrient concentrations and biomass were measured at Weeks 3, 6, and 8 after transplant. Optimal elemental leaf tissue concentration and biomass varied by macronutrient rates and weeks of growth. Nitrogen rate produced a linear increase in total plant dry weight, but foliar N followed a quadratic plateau pattern. Other elements, such as phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium, produced distinct total plant dry weight plateaus despite increasing fertility concentrations. These results demonstrate that fertility recommendation can be lowered for nutrients where higher rates do not result in higher plant biomass or foliar nutrient concentrations.