106 INTERMITTENT SPRINKLER IRRIGATION AFFECTS PLANT GROWTH AND N LEACHING

in HortScience
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  • 1 Department of Horticulture, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061-0327

The influence of intermittent and continuous irrigation on the growth, substrate nutrient accumulation and leaching from container-grown marigolds was determined. During a three week period. Tagetes erecta L. `Apollo' in a pine bark substrate received 12 irrigations. Each irrigation allotment was applied intermittently (multiple applications) or continuously (single application). Irrigation occurred when bark reached a targeted water content; irrigation water contained a complete nutrient solution. Leachates were cumulatively collected for each container and analyzed for N; plant dry weight. size, and nutrient composition were determined. Compared to continuously irrigated plants, intermittently irrigated plants had 43% greater root dry weight, 0.7% greater N concentration, and 43% more N leached from the substrate. Shoot mass. size. K, and P concentrations, substrate (pour-through extraction) and leachate N concentration were unaffected by irrigation method. Results demonstrated that. compared to conventional irrigation practices, intermittent irrigation was an effective method to reduce fertilizer effluent and increase N absorption for container-grown plants.