The quality-oriented fruit production in well-controlled enclosed hydroponic systems has been greatly enhanced by the technology of precision agriculture. Over-fertilization has been commonly applied to the traditional hydroponic culture of fruit crops, without considering different nutrient demands during development.
Adjusting the nutrient formulations depending on crop developmental stages could enable efficient fertilization to increase yield quality. In a recent study, N-reduced and K-modified nutrient solutions were applied for a two-step nutrient manipulation experiment, to improve the fruit quality (Experiment I) and optimize the fertilization schemes (Experiment II) of hydroponic netted melon.
The N-reduced and K-modified treatments, before fruiting stage in experiment I, obtained higher fruit quality with increased fruit weight, dry matter ratio, flesh thickness, and total soluble solids. In experiment II, fruits cultured under treatment II-3 had the highest overall preferences, with ‘rich’ aroma, ‘dense’ texture, and ‘perfect’ sweetness, compared to all other experimental treatments.
The study successfully improved the fertilization schemes for a hydroponic netted melon with precise N- and K-nutrient formulations specific to different developmental stages. It promotes the future advancement of precise fertilization to improve fruit quality and reduce environmental pollution from farming activities.