Empiricism in the use of nutrient solutions is frequent. Several times the same nutrient solution is used to grow different species based only on morphological similarities. This practice may lead to nutritional imbalances, affecting not only the production but also the quality of the product due to an accumulation of nitrate. An experiment under hydroponic conditions - the NFT system - was conducted with the aim of evaluating the effect of the concentration of nitrogen in the nutrient solution on the production and on the nutrient and nitrate contents of rocket (Eruca sativa) salad leaves. The experiment was carried out in spring 2003, in a randomized block design and in a 4 x 3 factorial design, with four replicates. Four nitrogen concentrations in the nutrient solution (60.8; 121.6; 182.5; 243.5 mg L-1) and three rocket salad cultivars (Cultivada, Folha Larga and Selvática) were evaluated. Cv. Cultivada produced the tallest plants and the highest leaf fresh fitomass, not differing from cv. 'Folha Larga' in the number of leaves, leaf nitrate content, root dry fitomass and root fresh fitomass. An increment in NO3, N, Ca and P and a reduction in Mg, K and S occurred when the concentration of N in the nutrient solution was increased. Cultivation of cv. Cultivada at the concentration of 93 mg L-1 is the most recommended as it provides the highest yield and low nitrate content.
Eruca sativa; Diplotaxis tenuifolia; hydroponic system; cultivar; mineral nutrition