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Jack W. Buxton, Wenwei Jia, and Guoqiang Hou

The automatic subirrigation system consists of a capillary mat placed above a constant water level in a reservoir. The optimum mat height above the water level was established by slanting a flat surface so the difference in vertical height from one end of the surface to the other was 25 cm. A ground cover providing water movement but not root penetration was placed over the mat. The capillary mat extended beyond the lowest end of the slopped surface and into the reservoir, the mat at the lowest end of the slopped surface was at the same vertical height as the water in the reservoir and remained constantly saturated. Plug trays were placed at intervals of 2.5 cm in vertical height above the water level. An average of 96-100% germination was obtained with marigold, tomato, impatiens and pepper seed in trays placed 5-7.5 cm in vertical height above the water level. These seedlings continued to develop and reached transplanting stage quicker than other trays. The rate and % germination was less in trays placed on the surface nearer to the height of the water in the reservoir. Germination in trays above 12.5 cm was greatly reduced and seed that did germinate did not develop and eventually died.

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Joo Hyun Lee, Yong-Beom Lee, and Kyu Sook Lee

Wasabi japonica plantlets were acclimatized in a hydroponic system to determine effective procedures. The plantlets were cultured on solid Murashige-Skoog medium with 3% sucrose. Shoots that formed roots were transplanted into hydroponic systems: 1) acclimatization in ebb-and-flow (EBB) for subirrigation (medium: granulated rockwool and coir); and 2) acclimatization in deep flow technique (DFT). The plantlets were acclimatized for 5 weeks under two irradiance treatments, 50 and 300 mmol·m-2·s-1. Photosynthetic capacity in high PPF was higher than that in low PPF during acclimatization. Electron transport rate from PS II (ETR) and biomass production increased significantly with increased light availability. The fresh weight, dry weight, and leaf area of plantlets in high PPF were higher than those in low PPF. In particular, the dry weight and ETR of the plantlets grown in high PPF increased more than twice as much as those in low PPF. At 50 mmol·m-2·s-1 PPF, growth indexes, such as number of leaves, leaf length, leaf width, leaf area, fresh weight, and dry weight, were higher in EBB (granulated rockwool) > EBB (coir culture) > DFT. At 300 mmol·m-2·s-1 PPF, those indexes were higher in DFT > EBB (granulated rockwool) > EBB (coir). The Wasabi japonica plantlets acclimatized in a hydroponic system also had a superior performance when they were transferred to the field.

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Andrew C. Bell and Mary M. Peet*

Environmental restoration of streams and wetlands in North Carolina is creating a growing demand for commercially available native plant material. Recent changes in the tobacco industry have resulted in decreased production leaving some tobacco greenhouses, once utilized for a few months, empty year-round. Identifying alternative crops that can be grown in tobacco greenhouses will provide valuable income to economically distressed tobacco growers. The floatation system (sub-irrigation) employed in the production of tobacco transplants in greenhouses is similar to that utilized by some native plant nurseries to produce wetland and riparian species. Local production of this plant material can enhance restoration project goals by increasing utilization of regional germplasm in this industry and reducing the risk of importing exotic pests with material shipped from out-of-state. To research these possibilities, we constructed a demonstration tobacco greenhouse with multiple float beds. Three commercially available media, including a tobacco seedling mixture, were tested. No differences were observed among the plants grown in different media. After one growing season, we have identified close to 20 species, woody and herbaceous, that can be successfully grown in a traditional tobacco greenhouse with minimal input or alternation to the structure or normal production practices. Additional research is needed, however, to address optimal production criteria.

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Mohammed S. Albaho and James L. Green

To determine its effect on salinity of the growth medium and on tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) growth and yield, the halophyte Suaeda salsa (L.) Pallas, or seepweed, was planted as a companion plant in the closed insulated pallet system (CIPS). In this production system, water moves from a bottom reservoir through capillary wicks to the medium in the root pouch in response to plant uptake. Fertilizers are placed at the top surface of the root matrix, so nutrient ions move downward to the roots by chemical ion diffusion to establish relatively stable chemical gradients within the matrix. Plants were subjected to capillary subirrigation water containing 0 or 4 g·L–1 NaCl. Sodium (Na+) concentration of the root medium at termination was 50% lower when S. salsa was grown in the same pouch with tomato. Sodium concentration was also significantly less in the tomato foliage, but S. salsa did not prevent suppression of growth of tomato plants by NaCl. Suaeda salsa plants reduced blossom end rot of tomato fruit but did not significantly affect fruit weight, number or yield.

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Chun Ho Pak, Seung Won Kang, and Chiwon W. Lee

Efficacy of application methods and concentration of plant growth retardants on growth of chrysanthemum (Dendranthema ×grandiflorum cv. Cheasepeake) was tested. B-9 or cycocel (CCC) as a growth retardant was applied as drench or subapplication with nutrient solution. In the case of B-9 drench treatments, as B-9 concentrations increased, numbers of flowers and flower buds increased except in the 1500-ppm treatment. Increasing concentration of CCC also resulted in reduction of flower numbers, total plant height, total leaf area, branch number, and fresh weight. Reduction ratio of total plant height in 2000 ppm showed about 56.9% being compared to that of the 100-ppm drench treatment. B-9 or CCC, combined with nutrient solution, was also supplied from the C-channel subirrigation system. The B-9 subapplication treatment showed no significance among these concentrations, but flower numbers, total plant height, average plant height, and leaf numbers decreased as concentrations of CCC increased. B-9 or CCC with the same concentration was drenched after 2 weeks of the first experiment to compare planting time efficacy. Measured data increased until B-9 increased up to 2500 ppm and severe growth retardation resulted from the 5000-ppm treatment. Through this growth retardant application study, the combination of drenching concentration and period of plant growth regulators (PGRs) may result in effective growth retardation and reduction of application concentrations for pot plant production.

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William R. Argo, Brian J. Weesies, Erica M. Bergman, Michelle Marshal, and John A. Biernbaum

The rhizon soil solution sampler (RSSS) currently is being used for in situ extraction of the soil solution for nutrient analysis of mineral soils used to produce field-grown crops. In this study, laboratory and greenhouse experiments were conducted to test the effectiveness of the RSSS for in situ solution extraction from soilless container root media and to compare an RSSS extraction method for measuring root-medium pH, electrical conductivity (EC), and NO3-N and K concentrations with that measured with the saturated media extract (SME) method. A near 1:1 correlation was found between the pH, EC, and NO3-N and K concentrations measured in the extracted solution of the RSSS and SME method in media without plants and in media from ten species grown using three water-soluble fertilizer concentrations applied by subirrigation. More testing is needed with the RSSS, perhaps using composite samples form several pots for analysis. The RSSS shows promise for nutrient extraction in container-grown crops because it is fast, nondestructive, simple, economical, and has minimal effect on the nutritional status of the medium in the pot.

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Timothy K. Broschat and Kimberly K. Moore

Zonal geraniums (Pelargonium ×hortorum) from seed and african marigolds (Tagetes erecta), which are known to be highly susceptible to Fe toxicity problems, were grown with I, 2, 4, or 6 mm Fe from ferrous sulfate, ferric citrate, FeEDTA, FeDTPA, FeEDDHA, ferric glucoheptonate, or ferrous ammonium sulfate in the subirrigation solution. FeEDTA and FeDTPA were highly toxic to both species, even at the 1 mm rate. Ferrous sulfate and ferrous ammonium sulfate caused no visible toxicity symptoms on marigolds, but did reduce dry weights with increasing Fe concentrations. Both materials were slightly to moderately toxic on zonal geraniums. FeEDDHA was only mildly toxic at the 1 mm concentration on both species, but was moderately toxic at the 2 and 4 mm concentrations. Substrate pH was generally negatively correlated with geranium dry weight and visible phytotoxicity ratings, with the least toxic materials, ferrous sulfate and ferrous ammonium sulfate, resulting in the lowest substrate pHs and the chelates FeEDTA, FeDTPA, and FeEDDHA the highest pH. The ionic Fe sources, ferrous sulfate and ferrous ammonium sulfate, suppressed P uptake in both species, whereas the Fe chelates did not. Fe EDDHA should be considered as an effective and less toxic alternative for the widely used FeEDTA and FeDTPA in the production of these crops.

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pecans. Pecan consumers typically purchase pecans from a grocery store, buy them shelled as a raw ingredient, and consume pecans four to six times annually. Results suggest opportunities for pecan market growth in the U.S. Assessment of Subirrigation

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Hongyi Zhang, William R. Graves, and Alden M. Townsend

We determined transpiration rate, survival, and rooting of unmisted, softwood cuttings of `Autumn Flame' red maple (Acer rubrum L.) and `Indian Summer' Freeman maple (Acer ×freemanii E. Murray). Effects of perlite at 24, 30, and 33 °C were assessed to determine whether responses of cuttings would be consistent with cultivar differences in resistance to root-zone heat previously shown with whole plants. During 7 d, cutting fresh mass increased by ≈20% at all temperatures for `Autumn Flame' red maple, but fresh mass of `Indian Summer' Freeman maple decreased by 17% and 21% at 30 and 33 °C, respectively. The percentage of cuttings of `Indian Summer' that were alive decreased over time and with increasing temperature. Transpiration rate decreased during the first half of the treatment period and then increased to ≈1.1 and 0.3 mmol·m-2·s-1 for `Autumn Flame' and `Indian Summer', respectively. Mean rooting percentages over temperatures for `Autumn Flame' and `Indian Summer' were 69 % and 16%, respectively. Mean rooting percentages at 24, 30, and 33 °C over both cultivars were 74%, 29%, and 25%, respectively. Over temperatures, mean root count per cutting was 41 and seven, and mean root dry mass per cutting was 4.9 and 0.4 mg, for `Autumn Flame' and `Indian Summer', respectively. Use of subirrigation without mist to root stem cuttings was more successful for `Autumn Flame' than for `Indian Summer'. Temperature × cultivar interactions for cutting fresh mass and the percentage of cuttings remaining alive during treatment were consistent with previous evidence that whole plants of `Autumn Flame' are more heat resistant than plants of `Indian Summer'. Mass and survival of stem cuttings during propagation in heated rooting medium may serve as tools for screening for whole-plant heat resistance among maple genotypes.

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Hui-lian Xu, Jean Caron, and André Gosselin

Water potential at soil–root interface (ψ s-r) indicates soil water availability to the plants. It is related to plant water potential and transpiration. To know the characteristics of ψ s-r, in the plants under a subirrigation system, hysteresis of ψ s-r, as well as xylem water potential (ψ x) and transpiration were examined in response to soil dehydration for Prunus × cistena grown in three soil mixes: mix 1-composted bark, peat, and sand; mix 2—peat, bark, sand, and compost; and mix 3—peat, sawdust, and sand. When the soil mixes were dried from high to low water potential (ψ s), plants grown in mix 2 maintained higher ψ s-r, as well as higher ψ x and higher transpiration. However, when the soil mixes were dehydrated from the bottom, the relationships of ψ s-r, ψ x, and transpiration to ψ s showed strong hysteresis effect. ψ s-r was always lower at a given ψ s when soil was rewetted from dry to wet conditions than when soil was dried from wet conditions. ψ x and transpiration also showed hysteresis in response to soil dehydration. The extent of hysteresis was the largest in mix 2 and the smallest in mix 3. Hysteresis of ψ X or transpiration showed a similar trend to that of ψ s-r. This suggests that ψ s-r is a good indicator of soil water availability to the plants and more directly related to ψ X and transpiration than is ψ s. The difference in hysteresis of ψ s-r among soil mixes might be related to the properties of hydraulic conductance, which are determined by the soil texture. Hence, further study is needed to elucidate the mechanism of the hysteresis phenomenon.