|Authors: ||A. McIntyre, I. McRae|
|Keywords: ||Zero-runoff system, innovation, nutrient consumption, water consumption, comparative yield|
The results of an experiment to compare gross income for hydroponic tomato (Lycoperiscon esculentum ‘Petula’) production in Autopot® and rockwool run-to-waste systems are presented, summarised and discussed.
The Autopot system is a relatively new and innovative zero-runoff hydroponic system that is being introduced into the hydroponics industry.
It will compete with recirculating and run-to-waste production systems that already benefit from decades of cumulative research and practical experience.
As very little information is available concerning the management and economics for commercial production, uptake of the Autopot system within the Australian industry has so far been limited.
This experiment was conducted at Elmac Hydroponics in southwest Victoria, Australia in 2003. Short-term tomato crops were grown in the Autopot and rockwool run-to-waste systems, according to Elmac Hydroponics routine-practices for management in each system.
Fruit number, weight and farm gate value, and water and nutrient costs per plant were used to determine gross income for production in each system.
The Autopot system produced a significantly lesser number, weight and farm gate value of fruit per plant than the rockwool run-to-waste system, but used significantly less water and nutrient.
However, the saving in water and nutrient was not enough to compensate for reduced yield in the Autopot system.
The gross income produced per plant in the Autopot system was $10.00, compared to $17.30 in the rockwool run-to-waste system.
There was no runoff produced by the Autopot system, however there was $0.60 wasted as runoff per plant in the rockwool run-to-waste system.
No significant differences in fruit quality were found between systems.
Since labour input using the Autopot system is lower, further analysis will be conducted using the data from this experiment to compare net income for hydroponic tomato production in Autopot and rockwool run-to-waste systems.
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