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Comparison Of Nutritional And Sensory Qualities Between Hydroponic And Soil-Grown Strawberries And Raspberries
AdvisorOmaye, Stanley T.
Natural Resources and Environmental Science
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Hydroponic means of food production represent a possible opportunity towards sustainable crop production. Hydroponics can be defined as growing plants in soilless conditions with nutrients, water and an inert medium. Hydroponics has the potential to supply food in non-arable regions of the world, such as arid or urban areas. Along with this, hydroponics could be a means to provide food to those living in food deserts. Hydroponic food production currently has a positive connotation because of the abundant proposed environmental benefits associated with the growing method. Some of these environmental benefits include: less use of water, less pesticide usage, higher yields, increased nutritional content and better taste. For the hydroponic product to be successful, it must be equal or better than the soil-grown product in terms of environmental benefits, nutritional quality and taste. The majority of recent studies have investigated hydroponic leafy greens, peppers and tomato fruit. Limited research has been conducted for hydroponic strawberries (Fragaria x ananassa) and raspberries (Rubus Idaeus). Strawberries and raspberries contain high amounts of health promoting bioactive compounds. Consumption of these nutritious fruits is associated with decreased risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and prevention of certain types of oxidative stress mediated diseases. This research consists of two review papers, and four experimental studies. The objectives of the review papers were to evaluate the current literature and provide an understanding whereby future research can move forward in the quest for global sustainable food production. The objectives of the studies for both strawberries and raspberries were to examine the crop compared to their soil-grown counterpart for viability, nutritional quality, and sensory attributes. In the review papers, it was concluded that many factors could contribute to the successes of a hydroponic crop. Currently, research on hydroponic methods is limited but preliminary research shows beneficial results in areas of ecological, economical, nutritional and sensory quality of the product. Evidence based research indicates a wide variety of study methods and designs, all which will contribute to the viability, nutrition, and sensory attributes of the hydroponic product. The results from our experimental studies support the hypotheses that hydroponics may be able to contribute to a sustainable food production while providing food that is equal in nutrition and taste. The hydroponic strawberry and raspberries results indicated a higher yield, equal or better nutritional quality, and equal or better in taste preferences compared to soil-grown strawberries and raspberries. The results from the experimental studies suggest hydroponic food production offers numerous advantages and may be conceivable to grow nutritious and flavorsome food in non-arable regions in the world.