Water and fertilizers use efficiency in two hydroponic systems for tomato production

ABSTRACT The amount of water and fertilizers used in the production of vegetables, specifically tomatoes, is high. This study was carried out to determine water and fertilizers use efficiency in closed and open hydroponic systems for tomato production under greenhouse conditions. Two treatments with eight replications were assessed; each replication consisted of 67 pots with two plants each. One treatment was a closed hydroponic system (with nutrient solution recirculation), and the other was an open hydroponic system (with non-recirculating nutrient solution). We quantified the amounts of water and fertilizers applied, as well as the losses (drained nutrient solution), in the two treatments during the entire cycle of tomato. In the nutrient solution (NS) we also measured electric conductivity (EC), pH, volume applied, and volume drained, and total weight of fruits (25 pickings). There were no significant differences between the two treatments on fruit production. Water use efficiency was 59.53 kg/fruit/m3 for the closed system and 46.03 kg/fruit/m3 in the open system. In comparison to the open system, the closed system produced 13.50 kg more fruit per cubic meter of water, while 10.31 grams less fertilizers per kilogram of fruit produced were only applied. Water and fertilizers use efficiency were higher in the closed system, by 22.68% and 22.69%, respectively. More efficiency was obtained in the closed system, regarding the open system. We concluded that the closed system is a good alternative to produce tomato and preserve the resources involved in the process (like water and fertilizers), thus reducing pollution.