The scarce availability of good quality water for irrigation in semi-arid regions leads to the reuse of waters, such as reject brine. Associated with this, the use of alternatives, such as hydroponic cultivation in substrates suitable for the development of profitable crops, such as watermelon, a species considered moderately sensitive to salinity, will allow new opportunities for communities assisted by desalination plants.
An experiment was conducted in a plastic greenhouse to evaluate the growth, physiological responses, yield, and fruit quality of ‘Sugar Baby’ mini-watermelon cultivated in a hydroponic system with reject brine from desalination plants and different substrates. The experimental design was randomized blocks, with treatments arranged in a 5 × 4 factorial scheme, corresponding to five mixtures of reject brine (9.50 dS m⁻¹) and tap water (0.54 dS m⁻¹) applied to mini-watermelon plants, in an open hydroponic system, with four types of substrate and four replicates, with two plants per plot. Mini-watermelon plants grown in coconut fiber substrate showed the best growth and production. On the other hand, washed sand was the substrate that most hampered the development of plants in all mixtures.
The use of reject brine to prepare the nutrient solution reduced the growth and production of mini-watermelon, mainly in mixtures with salinity above 4.00 dS m⁻¹. The changes in gas exchange caused by salt stress in mini-watermelon were of stomatal nature. Mini-watermelon has high energy stability under conditions of salt stress.
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Silva, José & da Silva Dias, Nildo & Jales, Gleydson & Rges, Layla & Freitas, Jayny & Umbelino, Bianca & Alves, Tatianne & Silva, Alex & Fernandes, Cleyton & Paiva, Emanoela & Morais, Patrícia & Melo, Alberto & Brito, Marcos & Neto, Miguel & Fernandes, Pedro & Sá, Francisco. (2021). Physiological responses and production of mini-watermelon irrigated with reject brine in hydroponic cultivation with substrates. Environmental Science and Pollution Research. 1-14. 10.1007/s11356-021-16412-x.