Type: Book

Advances in horticultural soilless culture


Dr Nazim Gruda is Professor of Horticulture at the University of Bonn, Germany. Professor Gruda is internationally-renowned for his research and over 250 publications in areas such as soilless culture, controlled environment cultivation and product quality of horticultural crops. He is Chair of an International Society for Horticultural Science (ISHS) Working Group and has both organised symposia and edited Acta Horticulturae for the ISHS. In recognition of his research, Professor Gruda has been awarded the 2003 “Dr. Heinrich-Baur-Prize” by the Technical University of Munich, Germany, the 2017 “National Scientific Prize” by the Albanian Academy of Science,and the status of “Distinguished Scientist” by the Chinese Academy of Science in 2020.



Publication date:

Q1 2021

Length of book:

360 pages

ISBN-13: 9781786764355

Hardback - £160.00
Request Permissions


Soilless cultivation techniques (including hydroponic systems) have attracted growing attention as a way of growing horticultural crops more efficiently without taking up more land. These controlled environment systems are also less vulnerable to climate change and are particularly suited to urban farming as part of the shift to more localised, circular food systems. This collection reviews the wealth of recent research on optimising soilless systems so they can make a significant contribution to more sustainable, ‘climate-smart’ food production.

Part 1 of this collection reviews research on optimising substrates for soilless cultivation. Chapters discuss advances in understanding root nutrient and water uptake and the range of substrates for soilless cultivation, in particular renewable alternatives to common materials such as peat. The book also assesses ways of optimising the physical, chemical and biological properties of substrate materials as well as nutrient formulations to feed crops. Part 2 assesses advances in both solid and liquid-medium container systems as well as technologies such as fertigation systems, modelling and process control. Chapters also cover advances in pest and disease management as well as trends in vertical farming systems. The final part of the books includes case studies on a range of horticultural crops such as tomatoes, strawberries, lettuce and ornamentals.

Key features

  • Detailed review of advances understanding and optimising the physical, chemical and biological properties of substrates to optimise their use 
  • Strong focus on sustainability issues such as alternative, renewable sources for substrates as well as life cycle assessment (LCA) to optimise soilless systems 
  • Includes case studies on practical applications of advances in science and technology for key horticultural crops

What others are saying...

“This book, written by well-qualified scientists and edited by an internationally-distinguished expert in greenhouse horticulture, provides a valuable update of the science and the current technologies applied in soilless culture”.
Professor Dimitris Savvas, Agricultural University of Athens, Greece

"This book from an internationally-recognized editor and authors will be a standard reference book on soilless culture for practitioners, scientists and students. It will serve to trigger practices and innovations increasing sustainability and optimizing product quality in soilless cultivation.”
Professor Rui Machado, Universidade de Évora, Portugal

"Soilless culture is rapidly rising around the world due to its ability to deliver reliable yield, quality and produce uniformity, and is very much a technology-driven industry. However, we should also pay attention to best horticultural principles and this book promises to bring together the current best practice in technology and horticulture to create an important industry reference for all participants."
Graeme Smith CAg, Chair - International Society of Horticultural Science (ISHS) ‘Working Group – Hydroponics & Aquaponics’, and Vice Chair - ISHS ‘Division - Protected Cultivation and Soilless Culture’

"The contents of the book will help extend our knowledge of soilless culture, an advanced method of cultivation that combines precise control of product quality with achieving the more efficient, sustainable production we need."
Professor Miguel Urrestarazu Gavilán, University of Almería, Spain

Table of contents

1.Soilless culture systems and growing media in horticulture: Nazim Gruda, University of Bonn, Germany;

Part 1 Materials
2.Advances in understanding plant root behaviour in soilless systems: Youbin Zheng, University of Guelph, Canada;
3.Developments in types of substrate for soilless growing media: Jeb Fields, Louisiana State University, USA;
4.Developments in alternative organic substrates for hydroponic cultivation: Nazim Gruda, University of Bonn, Germany;
5.Understanding and optimising the physical properties of growing media for hydroponic cultivation: Jean-Charles Michel, INRA, France;
6.Understanding and optimising the chemical properties of growing media for hydroponic cultivation: Francesco Giuffrida, University of Catania, Italy;
7.Understanding and optimising the biological properties of growing media for hydroponic cultivation: Francesco Giuffrida, University of Catania, Italy;

Part 2 Technologies
8.Advances in solid and liquid-medium container hydroponic systems: Yuksel Tuzil, Ege University, Turkey;
9.Advances in irrigation/fertigation techniques for hydroponic systems: Nikolaus Katsoulas, University of Thessaly, Greece;
10.Advances in modelling and process control for hydroponic systems: Jung-Eek Son, Seoul National University, Korea;
11.Advanced hydroponics design: Francesco Orsini, Università di Bologna, Italy;
12.Optimising product quality in soilless culture: Pietro Santamaria, Università di Bari, Italy;

Part 3 Case studies
13.Advances in hydroponic cultivation of tomatoes: Vincent Truffault, Futura Gaïa, France;
14.Advances in hydroponic cultivation of strawberries: Mike Nichols, Consultant, New Zealand;
15.Advances in hydroponic cultivation of ornamentals: Erik van Os, Wageningen University, The Netherlands;