(59) An Examination of Irrigation Volumes and Controlled-release Fertilizer Application Methods and Rates to Reduce Nursery Container Leachate and Fertilizer Use

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  • 1 University of Guelph, Plant Agriculture, Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1, Canada

Plug-rooted liners of common ninebark [Physocarpus opulifolius (L.) Maxim.] were grown in 6-L nursery containers filled with 73% composted pine bark, 22% sphagnum peat moss, and 5% pea gravel (by volume). Plants were fertilized with Polyon (Nutryon) 17–5–12 (17N–2P–5K) 6-month controlled-release fertilizer at various rates (2.5, 4.5, 6.5, and 8.5 kg·m-3) pre-incorporated, topdressed, or dibbled (placed under the liner at potting). Plants were trickle-irrigated daily with low (0.4-L), middle (0.8-L), or high (2.0-L) volumes of water to maintain leaching fractions of <0.15, 0.25–0.35, or >0.60, respectively. Regression analysis indicated that growth of ninebark increased from 30 to 109 g/plant with increasing rates of incorporated fertilizer (mean over irrigation volumes), from 27 to 71 g/plant with topdress and from 59 to 103 g/plant with dibble. Electrical conductivity (EC, mean over five dates) of the leachate throughout the season was highest with dibble (0.85 dS·m-3), intermediate with incorporated (0.81 dS·m-3), and least with topdressed (0.76 dS·m-3). With low irrigation volumes, growth of ninebark increased from 42 to 81 g/plant with increasing rates of fertilizer (mean over methods), and from 39 to 105 g/plant with middle or high volumes (common regression curve). With low irrigation volumes, leachate EC increased from 0.74 to 0.94 dS·m-3 with increasing rates of fertilizer, and from 0.75 to 0.81 dS·m-3 with middle or high volumes.

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