Soilless farming, though in practice for over two millennia, is becoming more prevalent in modern food production as it not only saves water and space but also provides an effective option for indoor urban farming. There are currently two major models of soilless farming—hydroponics and aquaponics. While both systems are effective methods, very few studies compare the two systems. The objective of this study was to compare the water quality, basil (Ocimum basilicum) productivity, and basil essential oil profiles from plants grown in a hydroponic and newly established aquaponic system. Basil plants from two age groups (young plants and old plants) were measured before, during, and after a four-week growth period in either a hydroponic or aquaponic system. Water quality was also analyzed before, during, and after the growth period, and essential oils were evaluated from harvested basil. Whereas older aquaponics plants seemed to grow better initially (p=0.0002 for leaf number and p=0.0036 for leaf density), at the end of the growth period it was younger hydroponic plants that had increased leaf number (p=0.0013) and stem height (p=0.0041). Both water quality and essential oils differed between the systems as well, with the aquaponics system having more stable nutrient supply and lower concentrations of essential oils. These data show aquaponics and hydroponic systems show differences in water quality, basil productivity, and basil-leaf essential oil profiles.
Wilson, Lauren E.; Duncan, Nathan C.; and Crain, D. Andrew
"Comparison of Aquaponics and Hydroponics on Basil (Ocimum basilicum) Morphometrics and Essential Oil Composition,"
RURALS: Review of Undergraduate Research in Agricultural and Life Sciences: Vol. 11
, Article 3.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.unl.edu/rurals/vol11/iss1/3