Aquaponics Wilt

Asked March 19, 2016, 6:50 PM EDT

1.) I have a 3000 gallon Aquaponics system, functioning since May of 2013. I believe I have, and have had for some time, a Wilt disease which affects many of the crops placed into the system. They exhibit slow growth (much longer than growing in soil), darkening roots and chlorosis and wilting of the leaves. I've recently tried an ultrasonic transducer and a UV clarifier. They did seem to help a bit, but their effects were minimal. I am attempting to keep the system available for organic certification but, regardless, from what I've researched there is no way to get rid of such a disease without dumping the entire system including fish and sterilizing. And even then, the same disease could just re-infect the system in a fairly short time. There is no organic or non-organic method to eliminate it. Is that correct?

2.) Can I simply send a sample of my plants to the OSU Plant Clinic and ask for a Disease Diagnosis (at the stated $75 fee) to confirm my suspicions?

3.) If I am unable to eradicate the Wilt disease in my deep water system, I'll still try to grow organically with a hybrid Aquaponic-Aeroponic system. I am going to trial a system where the fish tank effluent is run through a UV sterilizer before introducing it to the roots of the plants in an Aeroponic system (past bio filters of course). Without the constant reservoir a deep water Aquaponics system provides to the disease (in the way of the trough water continually surrounding the roots), perhaps it may be possible to essentially eliminate the problem that way. Any thoughts? Do you know anyone that has converted an Aquaponics system into an Aquaponic-Aeroponic system?

Thank you for your time. Have a great day!

Bob Frenock
Oregon Truffle Tryst Farm

Lincoln County Oregon

1 Response

First step to get a handle on this problem is to get an accurate diagnosis. Once you know exactly what plant pathogen you're dealing with in this system-then we can put together a short list of possible management options. (I'll make an assumption that you are testing the water to ensure that pH, nutrient level, temps are ok, etc.)
Going through the OSU Plant Clinic is a good idea. I chatted with them briefly this morning about your questions and they suggested to start by sending in a problematic plant. (If you have a similar plant with a healthy root system, that would be good to include as well.) Make sure to follow their tips on packaging and shipping so you get the most accurate results back. If there is any follow up testing required, then the Plant Clinic staff will be in contact.
I know you have a lot of follow up questions, but it's best to wait to see what plant pathogen is identified first. This is because there are a couple of possibilities (Pythium being a high probability) and each plant pathogen is managed in a different way. There may be simple tricks that are specific to that pathogen that can be implemented to reduce the problem. But at this point it would just be a shot in the dark!
I'm happy to follow up with this after you get results back from the OSU Plant Clinic. Feel free to get in touch as needed and thanks for using Ask An Expert.