423 Tensiometer-controlled Irrigation in Large Container-grown Bald Cypress (Taxodium distichum)

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  • 1 Department of Horticulture, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803

Proper irrigation practices are important in the production of container-grown woody ornamentals. When choosing irrigation methods, nurserymen must attempt to maximize production and comply with public policies mandating decreased water usage and runoff. One of these methods schedules irrigation based on plant demand, using tensiometers to measure matric potential of the substrate. While tensiometers have been used successfully with agronomic crops in the field, their effectiveness in irrigation management of large container-grown woody ornamentals has not been extensively tested. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of four irrigation treatments (7 cb tensiometer setting, 14 cb tensiometer setting, 1 time a day application, 4 times a day application) on the production of the ornamental tree Bald Cypress over a 9-month period. Growth differed significantly among treatments. The highest growth index was observed in the 4 times a day and the 7 cb tensiometer treatments, followed by the 1 time a day and 14 cb treatments, respectively. Effluent and leachate (pH, EC, N, P, K) were also measured. Percent effluent volume was highly variable, with maximum volume occurring in June for the 7 cb setting (82%) and in October for the 1 time a day treatment (47%). Higher pH values (7.0 to 8.0) initially occurred in the timed irrigation treatments and higher EC values (2.0–6.0 mmhos) were found in tensiometer treatments; over time, differences among treatments decreased for both variables. Substrate concentrations of N, P and K varied significantly among treatments, while no significant differences were found in the leaf tissue analysis.

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