Research Topic

Soilless Cultivation through an Intensive Crop Production Scheme. Management Strategies, Challenges and Future Directions

About this Research Topic

The human population is increasing with a parallel increase in food demand; therefore, food production must increase to meet the need. Soilless cultivation, frequently termed also hydroponics, is a modern technology and offer the opportunity to at least augment traditional soil-based growing systems. The increased interest in the commercial application of soilless cultivation in the last decades, has encouraged intensive research activity focusing on the development of new growing systems and understanding the crop physiology and quality aspects.

Soilless cultivation includes all systems of plant growth either on porous substrates or on pure nutrient solution (NS) instead of the natural soil. The major advantage of soilless cultivation is the uncoupling of the plant growth from problems associated with the soil, such as soil-borne diseases, non-arable soil, soil salinity, poor physical properties, low temperature, use agrochemicals etc. The cultivation on substrates is worldwide the most frequently used soilless technique for the production of fruit vegetables and cut flowers. Water culture systems such as floating hydroponics-DFT, Nutrient Film Technique-NFT and aeroponics are mainly used for leafy vegetable production. The soilless cultivation has no adverse effect on the quality of fruits and flowers. In contrast, the complete control of nutrition via the NS provides efficient tools for physiological and nutritional studies, improving product quality. The recycling and the control of the excess NS that drains off after each watering application is associated with a considerable reduction of nitrate and phosphate leaching to the water resources and maintain product quality/safety. Modern automation systems for nutrient and water supply constitute a prerequisite to restrict costs and increase profitability in modern soilless cultivation systems. However in countries that greenhouse crops has reach industrial dimensions, the above issue is of minor importance.

The general idea of this Research Topic on soilless culture has arisen from the mutual experience of specialists in numerous disciplines from different counties. By exploring different variables associated with soilless cultivation in food production, changes in physiological and molecular levels during crop production and product quality, environmental and human health benefits can be formulated for future research. The following issues are of great importance for study and soilless cultivation:
• can be considered as the tool for recycling-reusing-saving input strategies in horticulture, especially with recirculated systems (NFT, DFT, aeroponics).
• can explore the mineral uptake and food safety of products with biofortification and optimization of NS according to crop needs.
• are able to explore abiotic and biotic factors affecting plant physiology and quality of products, enabling the application of basic research and modern omics techniques.
• can focus is on physiological regulation of crop production and product quality at harvest and its postharvest behavior.
• are being used to investigate aromatic profiles of several species, unveiling factors affecting molecule biosynthesis. Soilless cultivation can be considered a mass production system for useful biocompound extractions and for enhancing aromatic profiles of edible plants and herbs.
We hope this Research Topic to some extent will contribute to the attracting of high scientific studies on soilless cultivation.


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

The human population is increasing with a parallel increase in food demand; therefore, food production must increase to meet the need. Soilless cultivation, frequently termed also hydroponics, is a modern technology and offer the opportunity to at least augment traditional soil-based growing systems. The increased interest in the commercial application of soilless cultivation in the last decades, has encouraged intensive research activity focusing on the development of new growing systems and understanding the crop physiology and quality aspects.

Soilless cultivation includes all systems of plant growth either on porous substrates or on pure nutrient solution (NS) instead of the natural soil. The major advantage of soilless cultivation is the uncoupling of the plant growth from problems associated with the soil, such as soil-borne diseases, non-arable soil, soil salinity, poor physical properties, low temperature, use agrochemicals etc. The cultivation on substrates is worldwide the most frequently used soilless technique for the production of fruit vegetables and cut flowers. Water culture systems such as floating hydroponics-DFT, Nutrient Film Technique-NFT and aeroponics are mainly used for leafy vegetable production. The soilless cultivation has no adverse effect on the quality of fruits and flowers. In contrast, the complete control of nutrition via the NS provides efficient tools for physiological and nutritional studies, improving product quality. The recycling and the control of the excess NS that drains off after each watering application is associated with a considerable reduction of nitrate and phosphate leaching to the water resources and maintain product quality/safety. Modern automation systems for nutrient and water supply constitute a prerequisite to restrict costs and increase profitability in modern soilless cultivation systems. However in countries that greenhouse crops has reach industrial dimensions, the above issue is of minor importance.

The general idea of this Research Topic on soilless culture has arisen from the mutual experience of specialists in numerous disciplines from different counties. By exploring different variables associated with soilless cultivation in food production, changes in physiological and molecular levels during crop production and product quality, environmental and human health benefits can be formulated for future research. The following issues are of great importance for study and soilless cultivation:
• can be considered as the tool for recycling-reusing-saving input strategies in horticulture, especially with recirculated systems (NFT, DFT, aeroponics).
• can explore the mineral uptake and food safety of products with biofortification and optimization of NS according to crop needs.
• are able to explore abiotic and biotic factors affecting plant physiology and quality of products, enabling the application of basic research and modern omics techniques.
• can focus is on physiological regulation of crop production and product quality at harvest and its postharvest behavior.
• are being used to investigate aromatic profiles of several species, unveiling factors affecting molecule biosynthesis. Soilless cultivation can be considered a mass production system for useful biocompound extractions and for enhancing aromatic profiles of edible plants and herbs.
We hope this Research Topic to some extent will contribute to the attracting of high scientific studies on soilless cultivation.


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

31 December 2017 Abstract
30 April 2018 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

31 December 2017 Abstract
30 April 2018 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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