Fluctuating Controlled Water Table Irrigation

in HortScience

A controlled water table irrigation system (CWT) automatically provides water to plants. One edge of a capillary mat, on the bench surface, draws water from a trough (water table) below the bench. Each treatment trough was 30 cm long. As the distance between the water surface and the bench surface increases, the water in the growing medium decreases, the air increases; and the water potential decreases. In previous studies a constant CWT of 2 cm below the bench surface was the optimum placement for producing 15-cm pots of geranium. In this study the water table fluctuated between two distances below the bench surface. The fluctuating treatments were 2 cm to 3 cm, 2 cm to 4 cm, and 1 cm to 4 cm. The control treatment remained at a constant 2 cm below the bench surface. The fluctuating treatments were established by using two liquid level controllers connected to a switching mechanism that allowed the water table to fluctuate between the treatment settings. The rate of movement from the higher level to the lower level was determined by the rate of transpiration and evaporation occurring in individual treatments. The amount of water used for each treatment was determined by counting the number of times the solenoid turned on and multiplying this by the amount of water added to the trough. The leaf area and dry weight were the same for plants grown in 2 cm, 2 to 3 cm, and 2 to 4 cm treatments and these treatments were significantly greater than plants in the 1 to 4 cm treatment. The amount of water used by all treatments was nearly the same.

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