By: Athanasios Koukounaras, Filippos Bantis, Papoui Eleni
Department of Horticulture, Aristotle University, 54124 Thessaloniki, Greece.
Nowadays the agricultural sector has to face major challenges such as climate change, food security, more efficient use of resources as well as logistical uncertainties in the market. Hydroponic cultivation addresses the above issues with a wide range of advantages such as increasing yields, use of unsuitable soils and expansion of cultivation area (greenhouse, vertical production, PFAL’s, urban agriculture), biofortified products, production planning, increased nutrient use efficiency, as well as the improvement of water management. Increasing demand for hydroponic systems is recorded in many sectors, especially in vegetable production. As a result, it is expected that the hydroponic sector will grow at a CAGR of 11.3% and reach a value of 17.9 billion $ up to 2026 from 9.5 billion $ in 2020 . The abovementioned perspectives are also based on the increasing demand for modern technologies such as plant factories with artificial lighting (PFAL), floating systems, aquaponics, aeroponics etc
Hydroponic systems can be classified based on the use or no-use of substrate or based on the management of the nutrient solution. Regardless of the type of hydroponic system the absence of soil results in the critical need for an exclusively external supply of nutrients. However, the cost and environmental impact of their use requires optimum management practices to increase the nutrient use efficiency by the crops. Plant biostimulants could be a valuable tool for improving crop production in hydroponics.