Comparative assessment of intensive tomato production in innovative non-circulating aquaponics vs. conventional hydroponics
New tendencies in farming techniques which include a composite agricultural production system have evolved as solutions for uninterrupted food supply. Production of high-yielding good-quality tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) is one of the leading challenges. This study aimed at evaluating the growth, yield, and fruit quality of hybrid tomato (Umagna), cultivated in non-circulating aquaponics and conventional hydroponics systems. A unique and innovative non-recirculating deep water culture aquaponics system (DWCAS) was developed as a prerequisite for high productivity comparable to current stand-alone fish/plant facilities. Including DWCAS, two other conventional hydroponics systems were compared during the study; the deep water culture hydroponics system (DWCHS) and the open bag system (OBS). The assessment of the production systems was based on the growth behavior, tomato yield, and quality. The maximum yield was observed for the DWCHS followed by DWCAS. The least yield was observed for the OBS. The results demonstrated the highest average fruit weight and marketable yield produced by DWCHS. There was no difference in plant dry matter content among production systems. The fertilizer use efficiency was increased by 11.7% and 85.86% in favor of the DWCHS and DWCAS, respectively. The total rainwater use efficiency was also increased in DWCHS.