IALR received a grant from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS) to continue research on beneficial bacteria endophytes and how they can be used to improve yield in hydroponic vegetable production systems. The project, which is titled “Utilizing Beneficial Endophytes to Promote Hydroponic Vegetable Growth and Increase Profitability,” will be provided by the USDA’s COVID-19 Relief Funding via VDACS.
Yields and diseases are two major challenges in hydroponic industries, and IALR scientists have discovered that some endophytes significantly promote plant growth, increase stress tolerance and fight against diseases, all factors that can lead to increased yield and higher profits. During this two-year project, researchers will pragmatically test endophytes from IALR’s collection in a hydroponic system on vegetable crops, such as lettuce and spinach, in IALR’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Innovation Center, a partnership with Virginia Tech. The best combination of growth-promoting bacteria and biocontrol bacteria will be tested using the randomized block design. The overall outcome for the project is to increase hydroponic vegetable yield by 10-20%. If achieved, it will contribute to making year-round hydroponic production more profitable for growers.