(122) Simulation of Poor Quality Irrigation Waters in Subirrigation and Top-watering using Mixture Experiments

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  • 1 Texas A&M University, Dept of Horticultural Sciences, College Station, TX, 77843-2133

The effects of cations vs. anions in salinity studies cannot be separated by traditional means. Analysis of mixture experiments allows ionic ef-fects to be analyzed individually by varying proportions of ions without changing their total concentrations. A series of mixture experiments were performed in the greenhouse to determine the effects of the anions bicarbonate, chloride, and sulfate, given a constant and equal concentration of the cation sodium, on vinca `Pacifica Red' grown with different irrigation systems and leaching fractions. In subirrigation, increasing total ion concentrations from 30 to 60 meq/L total ion concentrations (TIC) caused a general decrease in shoot fresh and dry weights, with bicarbonate contributing to the greatest degree of reduction, and sulfate the least. Root dry weight was similarly decreased with increasing TIC, but the differences between individual ion effects were more subtle. SPAD data, an indication of chlorophyll concentration, showed a sharp decrease with increase in bicarbonate, but not with sulfate or chloride. Medium pH increased as TIC increased, being influenced primarily by bicarbonate. Conversely, growing medium EC was influenced most by sulfate and chloride, and least by bicarbonate with increasing TIC. At 30 meq/L TIC, top-watered treatments with a leaching fraction (LF) of 5% generally had reduced shoot and root dry weight without regard to ion species, while a leaching fraction of 35% produced results more similar to those of subirrigation. While medium EC and pH varied with layer and irrigation method, bicarbonate generally affected EC least and pH most.

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