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Two greenhouse experiments were conducted to examine the growth and mineral nutrition of four leafy vegetables in a nutrient film technique (NFT) system with water with low to moderate salinity. In Expt. 1, a nutrient solution was prepared using reverse osmosis (RO) water and treatments consisted of supplementing with RO water, tap water, or nutrient solution. In Expt. 2, nutrient solution was prepared using three different water sources (treatments), namely, RO water, tap water, or tap water, plus sodium chloride (NaCl), and supplementing solution was prepared using the same three water sources at one third strength. For both of the experiments, seeds of pac choi ‘Tokyo Bekana’, ‘Mei Qing Choi’, and ‘Rosie’ (Brassica rapa var. chinensis) and leaf lettuce ‘Tropicana’ (Lactuca sativa) were sown and were grown in a growth chamber. Two weeks after sowing, seedlings were transplanted to the NFT systems. Expt. 1 was conducted from 19 April to 19 May 2016 and Expt. 2 from 6 September to 12 October 2016. In Expt. 1, nitrate (NO3−) and phosphorus (P) levels in the tanks decreased, and potassium (K+) levels reached almost zero at the end of the experiment when supplemented with RO or tap water. However, calcium (Ca2+), magnesium (Mg2+), and sulfate (SO42−) either did not decrease or increased over time. Supplementing water type did not affect the growth of leaf lettuce and ‘Mei Qing Choi’ pac choi; however, fresh weight of ‘Rosie’ pac choi and both fresh and dry weight of ‘Tokyo Bekana’ pac choi were reduced when supplemented with RO water. Leaf sap NO3− was reduced in ‘Tokyo Bekana’ pac choi, but not in other varieties, when supplemented with RO or tap water. Leaf sap K+ decreased in ‘Tokyo Bekana’, but not in other varieties. The supplementing water type did not impact leaf sap Ca2+, regardless of vegetable varieties. In Expt. 2, NO3− in all of the treatments, P in RO water, and K+ in RO or tap water decreased in the last week of the experiment. Other macronutrients did not change substantially over time. The addition of NaCl significantly reduced the growth of all the vegetables. ‘Tropicana’ leaf lettuce was the least tolerant to NaCl, followed by ‘Rosie’ pac choi. Water source did not affect leaf Ca2+, K+, P, SO42−, and Mg2+ except for ‘Tokyo Bekana’ where NaCl addition decreased Ca2+ and Mg2+. Our results indicated that the tested leafy vegetables differed in response to various types of water used as supplementing or as source water. N, P, and especially K, should be supplemented in the late stage of the experiment, while replacing the whole tank nutrient solution is only necessary when Na+ and/Cl− build up to harmful levels.
Niu, G., Y. Sun, and J.G. Masabni. 2018. Impact of Low and Moderate Salinity Water on Plant Performance of Leafy Vegetables in a Recirculating NFT System. Horticulturae 4 (6): 1-13; doi:10.3390/horticulturae4010006.