Controlled Environment Research Group – Projects & Research

Assessing sink strength of slicing and cherry tomato cultivars in aquaponics

Fruit pruning is a common crop management practice used to reduce sink load in fruit vegetables to enhance quality. The practice also helps achieve desirable and uniform fruit size. However, response differ based on cultivar. In low nutrient systems such as in aquaponics, reducing sink load may help to reduce nutrient demand and enhance reallocation. Yet, a very reduced sink can lead to nutrient transport problems. We investigate the impact of sink strength on growth, nutrient uptake and yield of cherry and slicing tomato cultivars.

Greenhouse Tomato Modeling

The objective of this project is to provide an empirical model to describe biomass accumulation and partitioning of cherry tomato grown with AE. It is anticipated that this information would provide insight into establishing a useful predictive model for cherry tomato growth in aquaponics.

Salinity Tolerance Threshold of High Value Horticultural Crops

The objective of this project is to explore techniques to grow commercially important horticultural vegetable crops under high-salinity conditions such has marine aquaponics. Currently, a split-root technique is being studied to determine the salinity tolerance threshold for kale under greenhouse conditions. The ultimate goal of this research is to promote marine aquaponics from a horticultural perspective.

Bamboo-based Mobile Aquaponics Systems

This project seeks to demonstrate the use of bamboo as a construction material for nutrient film technique (NFT) and tower hydroponic system designs in an aquaponic system designed as a backyard system for rural communities in crisis. The goal of this project is to determine the feasibility of bamboo as a construction material, the system efficiency compared to standard PVC-based systems, and the portability of the system design.


This objective of this research project is to assess the suitability of post-processing poultry water as a nutrient-rich medium for hydroponic plant production. Food-safety risks associated with using poultry processing waste to produce fresh vegetables, specifically leafy greens, where consumed portions directly contact contaminated materials will be evaluated. This research will also look at differences between nutrient removal and transformation potential between the standard bacterial water treatment culture and a culture supplemented with algal organisms, which are expected to increase nitrification, and thus nitrates available for plant uptake. The goal of this research is to reduce the addition of mineral fertilizers and reclaim a sizeable waste stream in the southeastern U.S.






Associate Professor
170A Funchess Hall
Auburn Univ, AL 36849