Analysis of Efficiency of Overhead Irrigation in Container Production

in HortScience
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  • 1 University of Florida, Central Florida Research and Education Center–Sanford, 2700 East Celery Avenue, Sanford, FL 32771

Volume of water captured in a container as a function of sprinkler type, spacing, plant type, and container size was measured for marketable-sized plants. Percent water captured was calculated and a model to predict this value derived. Percent water captured was inversely related to the leaf area contained in the cylinder over the container when containers were separated, and with total plant leaf area at a pot-to-pot spacing. This relationship was independent of leaf curvature (concave vs. convex). Canopy densities were less related to percent water captured than leaf areas. Irrigation application efficiencies separated by spacing ranged from 37% at a close spacing to 25% at a spacing of 7.6 cm between containers. Container spacing, canopy shedding, and possibly some canopy retention of water later lost by evaporation were determined to be the main factors associated with the low efficiencies. The results suggest that higher irrigation application efficiencies would be maintained only if plants were transplanted to larger containers before reaching maximum canopy size rather than spacing existing containers to achieve more room for canopy growth.

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