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First results on yield and quality response of basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) grown in a floating system

Miceli, A., Moncada, A., Vetrano, F., D'Anna, F.
Acta horticulturae 2003 no.609 pp. 377-381
Ocimum basilicum, basil, electrical conductivity, green leafy vegetables, greenhouses, hydroponics, leaves, nitrates, nutrient content, nutrient solutions, plant density, tillage, toxicity, water salinity, water treatment
The expansion of the medicinal and aromatic plant sector requires new studies to rationalise their cultivation. Due to its toxicity, the use of methylbromide as a sterilising agent will be banned in the near future. Basil is very susceptible to soil disease and therefore, alternate options for its cultivation, such as hydroponic methods, need to be considered. One of these hydroponic methods is the floating system which is the easiest and least expensive way to produce leafy vegetables when soil cultivation is no longer feasible. The aim of this work was to evaluate the effect of plant density and water EC on the yield and quality of basil grown using the floating system. The experiment was carried out in a greenhouse from February to April 2002. The growing set-up consisted of benches containing the nutrient solution and the floating boards. Two nutrient solutions with different electrical conductivity (2.8 and 3.8 mS cm-1) were compared. Both solutions had the same nutrient composition and the differences in EC were obtained using water with different salinity (ECw 0.8 and 1.6 mS cm-1). For each nutrient solution, three plant densities were adopted: 226, 373 and 593 plant m-2. Five days before harvest, half the floating boards were supplied exclusively with water instead of nutrient solution, in order to evaluate the effect of this treatment on leaf Nitrate content. As a result, the floating system appears to be suitable for growing basil. Water salinity did not affect its production. The yield increased as plant density increased. The water treatment before harvest, resulted in a higher yield and lower nitrate concentration.