Hydrophilic Polymers and Wetting Agents Affect Absorption and Evaporative Water Loss

in HortScience

A plantless system using subirrigation was developed to measure water absorption and loss in soilless media amended with hydrophilic polymers, a wetting agent, or combinations of these amendments. Peat-perlite-vermiculite and bark-peat-perlite controls achieved 67% and 52% of container capacity, respectively, after 20 daily irrigation cycles. Maximum water content of amended media was 78% of container capacity. Adding only a hydrophilic polymer did not increase total water content significantly. Adding a wetting agent increased water absorption in both media. However, when hydrophilic polymer and wetting agent were present, the medium absorbed more water than with wetting agent alone. More extractable water was removed from media containing wetting agent. Water loss rate by evaporation was not affected significantly by medium, hydrophilic polymer, wetting agent, or any combination of these variables.

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