494 PB 172 Use of Thin-Beam Load Cells as Pot Lysimeters in Greenhouse Studies

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  • 1 Department of Horticulture, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI 48824-1325

The measurement of evaporation and transpiration from container-grown crops is labor intensive and expensive if measurements are made by periodic weighing of the plants with electronic scales. Thin-beam load cells (LCL-816G, Omega Engineering) measured with a datalogger provides a method of making continuous mass measurements over time. Four load cells were tested to determine the feasibility for use in greenhouse studies. The sensors were calibrated to an electronic scale at a range of air temperatures. The electrical signal (μV) was a linear function of mass from 0 to 816 g. The change in mass per change in electrical signal (i.e. the slope) was the same for all four load cells (1.26 g ·μV-1), however the absolute electrical signal (the intercept) was unique for each sensor (-246 to + 101 g). The effect of temperature on sensor output was unique for each sensor in terms of both the magnitude and direction of change. A two-point calibration of mass performed at a range of temperatures is required to properly use thin-beam load cells to continuously measure evapotranspiration of container-grown crops.

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