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Effect Of PH On Cucumber Growth And Nutrient Availability In A Decoupled Aquaponic System With Minimal Solids Removal

Caroline Blanchard, Daniel E. Wells, Jeremy M. Pickens, David M. Blersch

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Decoupled aquaponic systems are gaining popularity as a way to manage water quality in aquaponic systems to suit plant and fish growth independently. Aquaponic systems are known to be deficient in several plant-essential elements, which can be affected by solution pH to either increase or decrease available nutrients. To determine the effect of pH in a decoupled aquaponic system, a study was conducted using aquaculture effluent from tilapia culture tanks at four pH treatments: 5.0, 5.8, 6.5, and 7.0, used to irrigate a cucumber crop. Growth and yield parameters, nutrient content of the irrigation water, and nutrients incorporated into the plant tissue were collected over two growing seasons. pH did not have a practical effect on growth rate, internode length or yield over the two growing seasons. Availability and uptake of several nutrients were affected by pH, but there was no overarching effect that would necessitate its use in commercial systems. Nutrient concentrations in the aquaculture effluent would be considered low compared to hydroponic solutions; however, elemental analysis of leaf tissues was within the recommended ranges. Research into other nutrient sources provided by the system (i.e., solid particles carried with the irrigation water) would provide further information into the nutrient dynamics of this system.