Biofertilizers improve leaf quality of hydroponically grown baby spinach

Plant nutrition through mineral fertilizers is commonly used in soilless culture systems. A recently published study aims to replace intensive mineral fertilizers with bio-fertilizers, at least partially. The researchers explain:

"We supplemented 50% of the mineral fertilizers with Chlorella vulgaris microalgae, a mix of beneficial bacteria and mycorrhiza. In addition, we investigated how to enhance spinach quality by implementing a sustainable and eco-friendly production method. Our research focused on analyzing the parameters of leaf quality and nitrate accumulation of baby spinach grown in a floating culture system utilizing biofertilizers."

When mycorrhiza, algae, and bacteria supplemented 50% of mineral fertilizers, 17.5%, 20%, and 21.9% fewer leaf yields than 100% mineral fertilizers (5270 g m−2) were achieved. However, biofertilizers improved the internal leaves' quality of hydroponically grown baby spinach. The highest amount of total phenolic (356.88 mg gallic acid 100g−1), vitamin C (73.83 mg 100 g−1), total soluble solids (9.4%), phosphorus (0.68%), and iron (120.07 ppm) content were obtained by using mycorrhiza. Bacteria induced the lowest nitrate content (206 mg kg−1) in spinach leaves, while 100% mineral fertilizers showed the highest nitrate (623 mg kg−1) concentration. Moreover, bacteria provided the highest SPAD-chlorophyll (73.72) and titrable acidity (0.31%). The use of microalgae, Chlorella vulgaris, induced the highest amount of potassium (9.62%), calcium (1.64%), magnesium (0.58%), zinc (75.21 ppm), and manganese (64.33 mg kg−1).

"In conclusion, our findings demonstrate that the utilization of biofertilizers has the potential to significantly reduce the reliance on mineral fertilizers by up to 50%.

"Furthermore, an improvement in the quality of baby spinach, as evidenced by an increase in health-beneficial compounds, is possible. Thus, implementing biofertilizers in the cultivation of soilless baby spinach presents a promising approach to achieving both environmental sustainability and improved crop quality.

Read the complete research here.  

Hayriye Yildiz Dasgan, Sevda Kacmaz, Bekir Bülent Arpaci, Boran İkiz of Department of Horticulture, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Cukurova, Adana 01330, Turkey and Nazim S. Grud,Institute of Plant Sciences and Resource Conservation, Division of Horticultural Sciences, University of Bonn, 53113 Bonn, Germany.

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