Source: SOUTHERN UNIV submitted to
Sponsoring Institution
National Institute of Food and Agriculture
Project Status
Funding Source
Reporting Frequency
Accession No.
Grant No.
Project No.
Proposal No.
Multistate No.
Program Code
Project Start Date
Jan 10, 1999
Project End Date
Sep 30, 2004
Grant Year
Project Director
chin, K.
Recipient Organization
Performing Department
Non Technical Summary
Animal Health Component
Research Effort Categories

Knowledge Area (KA)Subject of Investigation (SOI)Field of Science (FOS)Percent
Knowledge Area
205 - Plant Management Systems;

Subject Of Investigation
1122 - Strawberry;

Field Of Science
1020 - Physiology;
Goals / Objectives
Design, develop and test hydroponic systems for field product of strawberries. 2. Compare yields, quality of produce and other growth parameters of selected modified high-intensity hydroponic system(s) with traditional method of production. 3. Assess the economic performance and feasibility of the selected high-intensity modified hydroponic system(s) for small farm production by comparing to that of the traditional method of production.
Project Methods
The project involves designing of vertical hydroponic production systems for field production of strawberries using PVC pipes. Each of the designed structures has a continuous nutrient circulatory system which consists of nutrient solution reservoir, pump, jet sprinkles and connecting pipe lines. The constructed vertical strawberry production structures will be first tested for their feasibility of sustaining plants with planting holes and nutrigation. Complete block randomized design with three treatments (traditional method of production, and two selected vertical planting systems), and analysis of variance will be used to assess the horticultural performance of strawberry plants. Plants from the vertical production systems will be fed with nutrient solution adopted and modified from Hoagland's solution. Data on plant parameters such as yield, growth habit, insect and disease occurrence, photosynthetic efficiency, nutritive value, vitamins of fruits and ellagitannins will be collected. To assess the economic feasibility of the selected system(s), a comprehensive listing of production input (yield and return) data that are associated with the selected systems will be collected and compared to those of the traditional method.

Progress 01/10/99 to 09/30/04

Strawberry farmers in Louisiana will face potential field production problems associated with the soil-borne diseases as a result of the banning of methyl bromide as soil fumigant. Soilless culture was researched as an alternative production method to maintain production to compensate the potential loss due to the prohibited use of effective soil fumigant and as a potential but sustainable low-cost high intensity system for niche market production by small and urban farmers who have limited land areas. Ten cultivars were initially screened for their adaptability to soilless culture. Cultivars Seascape and Camarosa were subsequently selected based on % of brix and fruit size. Eleven modified hydroponics systems were evaluated for their production feasibility in the greenhouse. From repeated experiments using Seascape cultivar, two-row-4-level verti-horizontal system (2-4 VertiH), and six-vertically-stacked styrofoam containers (VertiGro-6) when compared to that of a commercial hobby's NFT system, have shown potential to be used as low-cost and high intensity systems for small-scale niche market and hobby production of strawberry, lettuce and herbs. Both 2-4 VertiH and VertiGro systems showed 60-70% marketable yields. Malformed, and small unmarketable fruits were attributable to poor pollination, insect infestations and low CO2 under the experimental conditions. Generally, it was observed that plants grown at top level significantly produced higher fruit yield and size than those grown at lower levels. Three nutrient sources were evaluated outdoor using VertiGro-6 system with a medium composed of 80% perlite base and 20% pro-mix top. Hydroponics nutrient, HNS (9-5-18) significantly produced higher yield than HNS + pasteurized cow manure followed by pasteurized cow manure. Plants at top level significantly produced larger fruits than plants at the lowerlevels but had no significant difference in sweetness. Elemental composition profiles of the strawberry fruits influenced by the nutrient sources were determined using scanning electron microscopy/energy dispersal X-ray analysis.

 The research findings can be used by more than 1,300 vertical soilless users to improve their production and management of strawberry and salad crops in the greenhouse. These findings once published, can stimulate the interest of many city dwellers to use one of the soilless vertical systems for vertical gardening as hobby or for home consumption, and small and urban farmers for niche market production of specialty crops such as culinary herbs and salad vegetables. Many schools have already used soilless vertical systems to teach science-related subject.


  • Chin, Kit L. and Yadong Qi. 2000. Comparison of Modified Hydroponics Systems for Greenhouse Production of Strawberry. Abstract. The First Asia-Pacific Conference & Exhibition on Soilless Culture.
  • Chin, Kit L. and Yagong Qi. 2005. Vertical gardening. Southern University Agricultural research and Extension center pamphlet (under preparation)
  • Qi, Yadong, K..L. Chin , 2005. SEM/EDAX analysis of elemental nutrient composition of strawberry fruits (under preparation)

Progress 01/01/03 to 12/31/03

A repeated soilless culture experiment consisting of three treatments, namely two-row-4 level verti-horizontal system (2-4 VertiH), VertiGro six-stacked styrofoam system (VertiGro-6) commercial hobbys nutrient film technique system (NFT) were used to evaluate the production of Camarosa strawberry in the greenhouse. Due to poor performance of Camarosa variety under the VertiGro-6 system, the yield of Festival strawberry was used in the comparison of these treatments. The fruit yield per sq. meter unit were 1,960.47 g, 1392.08 g, and 996.38 g for VertiGro-6, 2,4-VertiH, and NFT, respectively. The marketable fruit yield was 70 percent for VertiGro-6; 66 percent for NFT; and 60 percent for 2-4 VertiH systems. Malformed and small fruits accounted for the unmarketable percentage and were likely caused by poor pollination since no bumble hive was used. Insect infestation might have affected the yield data of this experiment. It was observed that fruits could be initially harvested about two to two and half months after transplant. In the experiment evaluating the effect of the sources of nutrients, cultivar seascape plants were grown in the 20 percent peatmoss/perlite mix and 80 percent vermiculite under the Vertigro systems, commercial hydroponic nutrient solution produced higher yield than pasteurized organic cow manure. Yield data from this experiment was not conclusive due to scale and mite infestation during the harvesting period. In all experiments, plants grown at top level produced higher fruit yield and fruit size per plant basis than those grown at lower levels. The yield difference could be attributable to the variation of light effect and nutrient distribution under the continuous flow system. No significant differences in TSS and chlorophyll content of leaves were observed among plants grown at different levels. Data on another experiment evaluating two modified VertiGro systems were not available.

The research findings of this project are useful to more than 3,000 vertical soilless culture growers in the nation to improve their production and management of strawberry and vegetable crops in the greenhouse. The information will stimulate the interest of many urban dwellers to use one of the developed systems using their limited space/land such as patio and balcony to produce pesticide free vegetables for home consumption. Local niche market for specialty crops can evolve from this research finding.


  • No publications reported this period

Progress 01/01/02 to 12/31/02

Based on 2001 preliminary assessment data on three modified NFT hydroponic systems: two-rows/4 levels A-frame system, three rows/3 levels gutter trough square frame system and three rows/3 levels 5.08 cm x 5.08 cm tube square frame system, a repeated experiment was conducted to further evaluate the performance of the day-neutral cultivar "Tribute" under these systems. The results were consistent with the previous findings that the location of rows within each growing system affected fruit yield and number on an individual plant basis. The top level within row of each growing system had higher yield and fruit number even though there was no significant difference among levels within row. The yield of middle rows of the gutter trough and 5.08 cm x 5.08 cm tube, respectively were lower than outer rows. Fruits on the top level within row of each growing system have higher TSS than the lower levels. There was no significant difference on chlorophyll content of sampled leaves from the three growing systems. Experimental plants performed well until spider mite infestation set in. About 60% of the fruits were non-marketable because of small-sizes and deformed shape. Spider mite infestation at the maturing stage and poor pollination were the contributing factors for such low marketable-sized fruits. In the variety trial under NFT hydroponic system, the data suggested that day-neutral cultivars, "Tribute" and "Tristar" cultivars had marginal performance under hydroponics. "Camarosa" cultivar was preliminarily observed to be promising variety grown under hydroponic system because of fruit size and if preventive insect and disease measures were undertaken. Strawberry varieties studied under greenhouse hydroponic systems were observed to produce fruits much earlier. Two-year data and observations indicated suitable strawberry cultivars are essential for successful hydroponic production. Further variety testing and selection are needed.

The use of hydroponics as an alternative production method for niche market production for strawberry and specialty vegetables can be evolved from this research. Many urban dwellers and small farm growers can utilize this environmentally friendly modified hydroponics to produce high quality fruits and vegetables and thus improve their nutrition. Small farm enterprise using this environmentally friendly hydroponic systems for niche market production of specialty vegetable and culinary herbs can be developed to sustain small farm agribusiness.


  • Chin, Kit L. 2001. Comparison of Modified Hydroponic Systems for Greenhouse strawberry production. In First Asia Pacific Conference on Soilless Culture and Exhibition In Singapore (May 23-24, 2001)

Progress 01/01/01 to 12/31/01

In the comparison of modified hydroponic systems in the greenhouse using a day-neutral strawberry cultivar "Tribute", the A-frame wood-supported 10.16 cm wide gutter trough system has significant higher yield in fruit weight and fruit number than the three-level square-frame supported 10.16 cm wide gutter trough system and the three-level square frame supported 5.04 cm square tube system. The location of rows within each hydroponic growing system has significant effect on photosynthesis, stomatal conductance, transpiration rates and fruit yield with the top rows being the highest. Rows at the second and bottom level produced less yield except the bottom rows of the A-frame supported system. No significant difference in chlorophyll was observed among the three growing systems. Preliminary variety trial under the nutrient film technique indicated that strawberry cultivars "Marmolada" and "Jewel" show potential to be a short-season hydroponic crops. Further evaluation is needed.

Results from the modified hydroponic production system studies being conducted at Southern University will eventually impact the pesticide-free production of strawberry and other plant products by urban and limited resource farmers particularly those with little or no available land, and hobbyists.


  • Chin, Kit L. and Yadong Qi. 2000. Comparison of Modified Hydroponic Systems for Greenhouse production of Strawberry. Abstract. The First Asia-Pacific Conference and Exhibition on Soilless Culture.

Progress 01/01/00 to 12/31/00

A notification of approval was received on March 21, 2000. Basic materials for the designed hydroponic systems are under requisition. The principal investigator has undertook hydroponic study tour to learn more about the feasibility of hydroponic study tour to learn more about the feasibility of hydroponic systems for field production for limited resource farmers.



  • No publications reported this period