Special Issue "Advanced Greenhouse Horticulture: New Technologies and Cultivation Practices"

A special issue of Horticulturae (ISSN 2311-7524).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2019)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Athanasios Koukounaras

Laboratory of Vegetable Crops, School of Agriculture, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, 54124 Thessaloniki, Greece
Website | E-Mail
Interests: vegetables quality; floating system; postharvest handling of leafy vegetables; organic production

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Greenhouse horticulture production is among the most intensive agricultural systems, requiring high inputs from growers. However, production practices have been changing due to the use of new technologies, increasing sensitivity to environmental issues, and consumer concerns about product quality, nutritional value (e.g., health-beneficial compound content), and safety (e.g., nitrate content), as well as adaptation to negative impacts of climate change.

The purpose of this Special Issue “Advanced Greenhouse Horticulture: New Technologies and Cultivation Practices” is to present innovative studies, tools, approaches, and techniques that have been successful in addressing some of these concerns, such as use of shadow nets, new substrates, floating systems, closed soiless growing systems, LED lighting, microenvironment modification, energy-saving technologies, soil and media health and properties, role of propagation material (traditional varieties, grafting, etc.), and any other innovation that has improved the efficiency and sustainability of greenhouse horticultural crops, for the production of high quality commodities.

Dr. Athanasios Koukounaras
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Horticulturae is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) is waived for well-prepared manuscripts submitted to this issue. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • product quality
  • soiless systems
  • climate control
  • supplementary/artificial lighting

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

Jump to: Review

Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Anaerobically-Digested Brewery Wastewater as a Nutrient Solution for Substrate-Based Food Production
Horticulturae 2019, 5(2), 43; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae5020043
Received: 30 January 2019 / Revised: 26 April 2019 / Accepted: 10 May 2019 / Published: 2 June 2019
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Abstract
Urban agriculture, due to its location, can play a key role in recycling urban waste streams, promoting nutrient recycling, and increasing sustainability of food systems. This research investigated the integration of brewery wastewater treatment through anaerobic digestion with substrate-based soilless agriculture. An experiment [...] Read more.
Urban agriculture, due to its location, can play a key role in recycling urban waste streams, promoting nutrient recycling, and increasing sustainability of food systems. This research investigated the integration of brewery wastewater treatment through anaerobic digestion with substrate-based soilless agriculture. An experiment was conducted to study the performance of three different crops (mustard greens (Brassica juncea), basil (Ocimum basilicum), and lettuce (Lactuca sativa) grown with digested and raw brewery wastewater as fertilizer treatments. Mustard greens and lettuce grown in digested wastewater produced similar yields as the inorganic fertilizer control treatment, while basil had slightly lower yields. In all cases, crops in the digested wastewater treatments produced higher yields than raw wastewater or the no fertilizer control, indicating that nutrients in the brewery wastewater can be recovered for food production and diverted from typical urban waste treatment facilities. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Performance and Hydroponic Tomato Crop Quality Characteristics in a Novel Greenhouse Using Dye-Sensitized Solar Cell Technology for Covering Material
Horticulturae 2019, 5(2), 42; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae5020042
Received: 21 March 2019 / Revised: 8 May 2019 / Accepted: 15 May 2019 / Published: 1 June 2019
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Abstract
In this study, we evaluated crop productivity and physiology during the hydroponic cultivation of medium-sized and cherry tomato crops, using two experimental greenhouses. Of the greenhouses, one used dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC) technology for covering material, whilst the other, a conventional one (CONV), [...] Read more.
In this study, we evaluated crop productivity and physiology during the hydroponic cultivation of medium-sized and cherry tomato crops, using two experimental greenhouses. Of the greenhouses, one used dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC) technology for covering material, whilst the other, a conventional one (CONV), was covered using diffusion glass as a control. The effect of the colored lighting that resulted from the DSSC glass filtering on the physiological response of the crops was examined by measuring the plant transpiration rate and leaf chlorophyll content. Furthermore, we evaluated potential differences in the concentration of phytochemical compounds, such as ascorbic acid, lycopene, and quality characteristics. Tomato plants in the DSSC greenhouse presented lower early and total yields, as well as lower chlorophyll content, stomatal conductance, photosynthetic rate, and transpiration rate values, especially in the medium-sized fruits, as compared to the CONV greenhouse. The DSSC greenhouse showed significantly higher values of bioactive compounds for both the cherry and medium-sized tomato, with increases in the ascorbic acid, lycopene, β-carotene, and total carotenoids concentration, which ranged from 6% to 26%. Finally, for both the hybrids, the 2,2′-azino-bis-3-ethylbenzthiazoline-6-sulphonic acid (ABTS) and 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) tests showed circa 10% and 5% increase, respectively, in the DSSC greenhouse. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Use of Diatomaceous Earth as a Silica Supplement on Potted Ornamentals
Horticulturae 2019, 5(1), 21; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae5010021
Received: 28 January 2019 / Revised: 15 February 2019 / Accepted: 22 February 2019 / Published: 1 March 2019
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Abstract
The role of silica as a needed supplement in soilless media is gaining interest. This research studied the effects of diatomaceous earth as a supplement on growth and flower characteristics, physiology, and nutrient uptake in dahlia (Dahlia Cav. × hybrida ‘Dahlinova Montana’), [...] Read more.
The role of silica as a needed supplement in soilless media is gaining interest. This research studied the effects of diatomaceous earth as a supplement on growth and flower characteristics, physiology, and nutrient uptake in dahlia (Dahlia Cav. × hybrida ‘Dahlinova Montana’), black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta L. ‘Denver Daisy’), and daisy (Gerbera jamesonii L. ‘Festival Light Eye White Shades’). Plants were either well-watered at 10 centibars or water-stressed at 20 centibars. Silicon treatments included top-dressed at 20, 40, 60, and 80 g, or incorporated at 50, 100, 150, and 200 g, in Metro-Mix 360 media without silica plus a control and one treatment of new Metro-Mix 360 with silica already incorporated. Significant effects were seen from diatomaceous earth supplementation, irrigation, and interaction in all plants; growth and flower characteristics, leaf nutrient content, and tolerance to stress were improved by application of diatomaceous earth. An increase in leaf N, P, K, Mg, and Ca was observed for dahlia ‘Dahlinova Montana’ and black-eyed Susan ‘Denver Daisy’. Transpiration was maintained in all three species due to silica supplementation under water-stress. Metro-Mix with silica was similar to the Metro-mix without silica and equivalent to most treatments with supplemental silica for all three species. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Assessing Quantitative Criteria for Characterization of Quality Categories for Grafted Watermelon Seedlings
Horticulturae 2019, 5(1), 16; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae5010016
Received: 26 December 2018 / Revised: 23 January 2019 / Accepted: 28 January 2019 / Published: 2 February 2019
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Abstract
Vegetable grafting is a practice employed worldwide since it helps prevent biotic and abiotic disorders, and watermelon is one of the most important species grafted. The objective of this study was to set critical limits for the characterization of quality categories for grafted [...] Read more.
Vegetable grafting is a practice employed worldwide since it helps prevent biotic and abiotic disorders, and watermelon is one of the most important species grafted. The objective of this study was to set critical limits for the characterization of quality categories for grafted watermelon seedlings. Specifically, watermelon (scion) seedlings were grafted onto squash (rootstock) seedlings, moved into a healing chamber for 7 days, and then transferred into a greenhouse for seven more days. At 7 and 14 days after grafting, experienced personnel assessed grafted seedling quality by categorizing them. The categories derived were Optimum and Acceptable for both time intervals, plus Not acceptable at 14 days after grafting. Optimum seedlings showed greater leaf area, and shoot and root fresh and dry weights at both time intervals. Moreover, they had greater stem diameter, root-to-shoot ratio, shoot dry weight-to-length ratio and Dickson’s quality index compared to the other category at 14 days after grafting. Therefore, Optimum seedlings would likely develop into marketable plants of high quality, with better establishment in the field. Not acceptable seedlings showed considerably inferior development, while Acceptable seedlings were between the other categories, but were still marketable. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Evaluation of Two Wild Populations of Hedge Mustard (Sisymbrium officinale (L.) Scop.) as a Potential Leafy Vegetable
Horticulturae 2019, 5(1), 13; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae5010013
Received: 5 October 2018 / Revised: 8 January 2019 / Accepted: 11 January 2019 / Published: 1 February 2019
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1039 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
The minimally processed industry is always looking for produce innovation that can satisfy consumer needs. Wild leafy vegetables can be a good source of bioactive compounds and can be attractive for the consumer in term of visual appearance and taste. In this work, [...] Read more.
The minimally processed industry is always looking for produce innovation that can satisfy consumer needs. Wild leafy vegetables can be a good source of bioactive compounds and can be attractive for the consumer in term of visual appearance and taste. In this work, Sisymbrium officinale (L.) Scop., commonly called hedge mustard, was grown in a greenhouse and evaluated as a potential leafy vegetable. Two wild populations, Milano (MI) and Bergamo (BG), were grown in peat substrate and harvested at the commercial stage for the minimally processing industry. Leaf pigments such as chlorophyll and carotenoids were determined as well as chlorophyll a fluorescence parameters. Total sugars, antioxidant compounds such as ascorbic acid, phenolic index, total phenols, anthocyanins, and nitrate were determined at harvest. Significant differences between wild populations were found in April with higher nitrate content in BG, 2865 mg/kg FW than in MI, 1770 mg/kg FW. The nitrate levels of S. officinale measured in the present study are significantly lower than the maximum NO₃ level allowed in other fresh leafy vegetables. Ascorbic acid measured in November was higher in MI compared BG with values of 54.4 versus 34.6 mg/100 g FW, respectively. The chlorophyll a fluorescence data showed that BG reached optimal leaf functionality faster than MI. Overall results indicated that Sisymbrium officinale (L.) Scop. can be suggested as a potential leafy vegetable for the minimally processed industry. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Automation for Water and Nitrogen Deficit Stress Detection in Soilless Tomato Crops Based on Spectral Indices
Horticulturae 2018, 4(4), 47; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae4040047
Received: 8 October 2018 / Revised: 9 November 2018 / Accepted: 16 November 2018 / Published: 23 November 2018
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Abstract
Water and nitrogen deficit stress are some of the most important growth limiting factors in crop production. Several methods have been used to quantify the impact of water and nitrogen deficit stress on plant physiology. However, by performing machine learning with hyperspectral sensor [...] Read more.
Water and nitrogen deficit stress are some of the most important growth limiting factors in crop production. Several methods have been used to quantify the impact of water and nitrogen deficit stress on plant physiology. However, by performing machine learning with hyperspectral sensor data, crop physiology management systems are integrated into real artificial intelligence systems, providing richer recommendations and insights into implementing appropriate irrigation and environment control management strategies. In this study, the Classification Tree model was used to group complex hyperspectral datasets in order to provide remote visual results about plant water and nitrogen deficit stress. Soilless tomato crops are grown under varying water and nitrogen regimes. The model that we developed was trained using 75% of the total sample dataset, while the rest (25%) of the data were used to validate the model. The results showed that the combination of MSAVI, mrNDVI, and PRI had the potential to determine water and nitrogen deficit stress with 89.6% and 91.4% classification accuracy values for the training and testing samples, respectively. The results of the current study are promising for developing control strategies for sustainable greenhouse production. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Yield, Quality, Antioxidants and Elemental Composition of New Leek Cultivars under Organic or Conventional Systems in a Greenhouse
Horticulturae 2018, 4(4), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae4040039
Received: 15 October 2018 / Revised: 30 October 2018 / Accepted: 31 October 2018 / Published: 12 November 2018
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Abstract
Leek (Allium porrum) is known for its high antioxidant activity and the ability to accumulate significant amounts of potassium and iron. We assessed yield, quality indicators, antioxidants and elemental composition of nine leek cultivars grown in greenhouses under organic or conventional [...] Read more.
Leek (Allium porrum) is known for its high antioxidant activity and the ability to accumulate significant amounts of potassium and iron. We assessed yield, quality indicators, antioxidants and elemental composition of nine leek cultivars grown in greenhouses under organic or conventional systems in the Moscow region. The management system did not affect yield, which attained the highest value with the cultivar Giraffe and the lowest with Premier and Cazimir. Pseudo-stem dry matter and sugars were higher with organic management, whereas nitrate concentration was higher with conventional management. The cultivars Vesta and Summer Breeze showed the highest dry matter and total sugar content, whereas Goliath had the highest antioxidant, selenium and potassium concentrations. Among the antioxidants, ascorbic acid attained higher values with organic management. The antioxidant system of leek was characterized by highly significant positive correlations between: Se and polyphenols, Se and ascorbic acid, Se and K, ascorbic acid and polyphenols, ascorbic acid and K, polyphenols and K (r = 0.94, 0.94, 0.95, 0.94, 0.95, 0.96, respectively, at P ≤ 0.001). Negative correlations were recorded between leaf and pseudo-stem Se and between leaf and pseudo-stem polyphenols (r = −0.922 and −0.976, respectively, at P ≤ 0.001). Among the mineral elements, only K was significantly affected by the management system, showing a higher content in organically grown pseudo-stems. Varietal differences in pseudo-stem element composition showed strong positive correlations of: Al with As, Co, Li, Pb and V; Cr with I, Mg, Si, Ca; V with As, Co and Fe; negative correlations of Se with Cr and I. Compared to related species such as garlic (A. sativum), leek accumulated levels equal to garlic of K, Mg, P, Cd, Cu, Mn, Se, Zn, lower levels of Si and significantly higher amounts of Ca, Na, Al, As, Cr, Ni, Pb, Sr, V, Sn, B, Co, Fe, I, Li. The strong relationships between quality, antioxidant and mineral components in leek plants may give wide possibilities in breeding programs for both conventional and organic management systems in greenhouses. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Growth Responses and Root Characteristics of Lettuce Grown in Aeroponics, Hydroponics, and Substrate Culture
Horticulturae 2018, 4(4), 35; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae4040035
Received: 4 September 2018 / Revised: 12 October 2018 / Accepted: 16 October 2018 / Published: 24 October 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (9729 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Aeroponics is a relatively new soilless culture technology which may produce food in space-limited cities or on non-arable land with high water-use efficiency. The shoot and root growth, root characteristics, and mineral content of two lettuce cultivars were measured in aeroponics, and compared [...] Read more.
Aeroponics is a relatively new soilless culture technology which may produce food in space-limited cities or on non-arable land with high water-use efficiency. The shoot and root growth, root characteristics, and mineral content of two lettuce cultivars were measured in aeroponics, and compared with hydroponics and substrate culture. The results showed that aeroponics remarkably improved root growth with a significantly greater root biomass, root/shoot ratio, and greater total root length, root area, and root volume. However, the greater root growth did not lead to greater shoot growth compared with hydroponics, due to the limited availability of nutrients and water. It was concluded that aeroponics systems may be better for high value true root crop production. Further research is necessary to determine the suitable pressure, droplet size, and misting interval in order to improve the continuous availability of nutrients and water in aeroponics, if it is to be used to grow crops such as lettuce for harvesting above-ground parts. Full article
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Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessReview
Light and Microbial Lifestyle: The Impact of Light Quality on Plant–Microbe Interactions in Horticultural Production Systems—A Review
Horticulturae 2019, 5(2), 41; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae5020041
Received: 15 January 2019 / Revised: 15 April 2019 / Accepted: 23 May 2019 / Published: 28 May 2019
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Abstract
Horticultural greenhouse production in circumpolar regions (>60° N latitude), but also at lower latitudes, is dependent on artificial assimilation lighting to improve plant performance and the profitability of ornamental crops, and to secure production of greenhouse vegetables and berries all year round. In [...] Read more.
Horticultural greenhouse production in circumpolar regions (>60° N latitude), but also at lower latitudes, is dependent on artificial assimilation lighting to improve plant performance and the profitability of ornamental crops, and to secure production of greenhouse vegetables and berries all year round. In order to reduce energy consumption and energy costs, alternative technologies for lighting have been introduced, including light-emitting diodes (LED). This technology is also well-established within urban farming, especially plant factories. Different light technologies influence biotic and abiotic conditions in the plant environment. This review focuses on the impact of light quality on plant–microbe interactions, especially non-phototrophic organisms. Bacterial and fungal pathogens, biocontrol agents, and the phyllobiome are considered. Relevant molecular mechanisms regulating light-quality-related processes in bacteria are described and knowledge gaps are discussed with reference to ecological theories. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Effects of Biochar on Container Substrate Properties and Growth of Plants—A Review
Horticulturae 2019, 5(1), 14; https://doi.org/10.3390/horticulturae5010014
Received: 15 November 2018 / Revised: 10 January 2019 / Accepted: 24 January 2019 / Published: 1 February 2019
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Abstract
Biochar refers to a processed, carbon-rich material made from biomass. This article provides a brief summary on the effects of biochar on container substrate properties and plant growth. Biochar could be produced through pyrolysis, gasification, and hydrothermal carbonization of various feedstocks. Biochar produced [...] Read more.
Biochar refers to a processed, carbon-rich material made from biomass. This article provides a brief summary on the effects of biochar on container substrate properties and plant growth. Biochar could be produced through pyrolysis, gasification, and hydrothermal carbonization of various feedstocks. Biochar produced through different production conditions and feedstocks affect its properties and how it performs when incorporated in container substrates. Biochar incorporation affects the physical and chemical properties of container substrates, including bulk density, total porosity, container capacity, nutrient availability, pH, electrical conductivity and cation exchange capacity. Biochar could also affect microbial activities. The effects of biochar incorporation on plant growth in container substrates depend on biochar properties, plant type, percentage of biochar applied and other container substrates components mixed with biochar. A review of the literature on the impact of biochar on container-grown plants without other factors (such as irrigation or fertilization rates) indicated that 77.3% of the studies found that certain percentages of biochar addition in container substrates promoted plant growth, and 50% of the studies revealed that plant growth decreased due to certain percentages of biochar incorporation. Most of the plants tested in these studies were herbaceous plants. More plant species should be tested for a broader assessment of the use of biochar. Toxic substances (heavy metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and dioxin) in biochars used in container substrates has rarely been studied. Caution is needed when selecting feedstocks and setting up biochar production conditions, which might cause toxic contaminants in the biochar products that could have negative effects on plant growth. Full article
Open AccessReview
Irrigation of Greenhouse Crops
Received: 29 November 2018 / Revised: 23 December 2018 / Accepted: 29 December 2018 / Published: 15 January 2019
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (1641 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Precision agricultural greenhouse systems indicate considerable scope for improvement of irrigation management practices, since growers typically irrigate crops based on their personal experience. Soil-based greenhouse crop irrigation management requires estimation on a daily basis, whereas soilless systems must be estimated on an hourly [...] Read more.
Precision agricultural greenhouse systems indicate considerable scope for improvement of irrigation management practices, since growers typically irrigate crops based on their personal experience. Soil-based greenhouse crop irrigation management requires estimation on a daily basis, whereas soilless systems must be estimated on an hourly or even shorter interval schedule. Historically, irrigation scheduling methods have been based on soil or substrate monitoring, dependent on climate or time with each having both strengths and weaknesses. Recently, plant-based monitoring or plant reflectance-derived indices have been developed, yet their potential is limited for estimating the irrigation rate in order to apply proper irrigation scheduling. Optimization of irrigation practices imposes different irrigation approaches, based on prevailing greenhouse environments, considering plant-water-soil relationships. This article presents a comprehensive review of the literature, which deals with irrigation scheduling approaches applied for soil and soilless greenhouse production systems. Irrigation decisions are categorized according to whether or not an automatic irrigation control has the ability to support a feedback irrigation decision system. The need for further development of neural networks systems is required. Full article
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