African Journal of
Agricultural Research

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Agric. Res.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1991-637X
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJAR
  • Start Year: 2006
  • Published Articles: 6858

Full Length Research Paper

Assessment of vertical hydroponic structures compared to planting in soil under different light conditions

Zikhona Buyeye
  • Zikhona Buyeye
  • Mechanisation and Precision Agriculture, Natural Resources and Engineering, Agricultural Research Council, 141 Cresswell Road, Weavind Park, Pretoria 0184, South Africa.
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Gareth Lagerwall
  • Gareth Lagerwall
  • Bioresources Engineering Programme, School of Engineering, University of Kwa Zulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg 3209, South Africa.
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Aidan Senzanje
  • Aidan Senzanje
  • Bioresources Engineering Programme, School of Engineering, University of Kwa Zulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg 3209, South Africa.
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Sipho Sibanda
  • Sipho Sibanda
  • Mechanisation and Precision Agriculture, Natural Resources and Engineering, Agricultural Research Council, 141 Cresswell Road, Weavind Park, Pretoria 0184, South Africa.
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  •  Received: 11 February 2024
  •  Accepted: 04 April 2024
  •  Published: 30 June 2024

Abstract

The aim of this research was to evaluate the performance of small-scale vertical hydroponic structures compared to indoor planting in soil under different light conditions. Fordhook Giant Swiss chard (Spinacea oleracea) was grown for 2 cropping seasons. It was hypothesized that there would be no significant difference in the biometric attributes of the plants grown hydroponically and those grown in soil under different light conditions. Plants grown hydroponically had a significantly higher relative growth rate than plants grown in soil (0.090 g.g-1.day-1 vs 0.080 g.g-1.day-1 in cropping season one (CS1), and 0.085 g.g-1.day-1 vs 0.079 g.g-1.day-1 in CS2), p = 0.030 in CS1 and p = 0.011 in CS2. There was a statistically significant difference between the total leaf area per plant of plants grown hydroponically and those grown in soil (1 263.39 vs 914.32 mm2 in CS1 and 1 286.98 vs 896.63 mm2 in CS2), p < 0.01 in both cropping seasons. The results indicate that small-scale vertical hydroponic structures can be used as an applicable alternative to conventional potting systems in indoor planting. The study has contributed new quantitative information about the performance of vertical hydroponic structures, which may aid potential farmers in decision making.

Key words: Vertical farming, hydroponics, indoor farming, grow lights, relative growth rates.