Automatic Irrigation of Container Plants in Outdoor Sales Area

in HortScience

Maintaining adequate water for container plants in outdoor sales areas is difficult during the late spring and summer. In mass marketing areas employees are uninformed about the water requirements of plants under various environmental conditions. Plants often are severely stressed and over all quality reduced. A system was developed to automatically irrigate container plants in an outdoor sales area. The system is a modification of the Controlled Water Table (CWT) irrigation system developed at the Univ. of Kentucky (U.K.). The sales area consisted of 2 shelves each 2.44 m long and 0.28 m wide. A trough was constructed from a 5-cm diameter pipe with a 1/4 slot; it was attached to the back side of the shelf. One side of a capillary mat, placed on the shelves, was suspended in the trough containing water. Two systems were used to maintain the level of water in the trough. One was a small float valve installed in a 10-cm PVC pipe which was attached to the 5-cm PVC pipe. The float was adjusted to maintain the water in the trough 2 cm below the top of the shelf. The water reservoir consisted of a 20-cm diameter PVC pipe, 1.22 m long that held 70 L of water. A second system maintained a constant water level in the trough using Torricellian tube principle. The water reservoir was the same as above except it was tightly sealed so no air could leak from the system. The water table was maintained 2 cm below the bench surface by rotating a hole in small cap. A variety of plants in containers, ranging from 10 cm to 5 L pots were maintained without water stress, in a greenhouse environment as well in an outdoor environment for several weeks.

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