A fundamental way to schedule irrigation is through the monitoring and management of soil water tension (SWT). Soil water tension is the force necessary for plant roots to extract water from the soil. With the invention of tensiometers, SWT measurements have been used to schedule irrigation. There are different types of field instruments used to measure SWT, either directly or indirectly. Precise irrigation scheduling by SWT criteria is a powerful method to optimize plant performance. Specific SWT criteria for irrigation scheduling have been developed to optimize the production and quality of vegetable crops, field crops, trees, shrubs, and nursery crops. This review discusses known SWT criteria for irrigation scheduling that vary from 2 to 800 kPa depending on the crop species, plant product to be optimized, environmental conditions, and irrigation system. By using the ideal SWT and adjusting irrigation duration and amount, it is possible to simultaneously achieve high productivity and meet environmental stewardship goals for water use and reduced leaching.
Although the term consultant is used extensively, the duty of an international horticultural consultant (IHC) lacks precision. We propose that the job of an IHC has many attributes similar to an extension agent in the United States. Accordingly, we highlight the responsibilities of an IHC and put them in a historic and organizational context. Subsequently, we give advice about how to act and behave adequately when going to a new country. We bring in experience from successful IHC and a synopsis of specialist literature. Because we stress the importance of the credibility of an IHC within the farming community he is working with, we emphasize interaction with her/his professional and social environment. An IHC must have a genuine interest in the people being served and their challenges and adequate competence to provide a genuine contribution.
With the intensification of horticultural research around the world, increasing numbers of scientific manuscripts are being written in English by authors whose primary language is not English. English has become the standard language of science, and English language manuscripts are readily accessible to the global scientific community. Therefore, non-native English speakers are encouraged to publish appropriate studies in English. Reviewers of manuscripts written in English by non-native speakers are encouraged to focus on scientific content and to provide constructive criticisms to facilitate the international exchange of information. Problems associated with writing scientific manuscripts in English can impede the publication of good science in international journals. This article describes problems in horticultural manuscripts that are often encountered by authors who are non-native English speakers and provides suggestions and resources to overcome these problems. References have been selected that provide clear help for authors in horticulture and other plant sciences.
Long-day onion (Allium cepa L. `Vision') was subjected to five soil water potential (SWP) treatments (–10, –20, –30, –50, and –70 kPa) using subsurface drip irrigation in 1997 and 1998. Onions were grown on 1.1-m beds with two double rows spaced 0.56 m apart and a drip tape buried 13 cm deep in the bed center. Soil water potential was maintained at the five levels by automated, high-frequency irrigations based on SWP measurements at 0.2-m depth. Onions were evaluated for yield and grade after 70 days of storage. In 1997, total and colossal (bulb diameter ≥102 mm) yield increased with increasing SWP, but marketable yield was highest at a calculated –21 kPa because of greater decomposition in storage in wetter treatments. In 1998 total, marketable, and colossal-grade onion yield increased with increasing SWP. Onion profits were highest with a calculated SWP of –17 kPa in 1997, and at the wettest level tested in 1998. Storage decomposition was not affected by SWP in 1998. Maintenance of SWP at –10 and –20 kPa required, respectively, 912 and 691 mm of water in 1997 and 935 and 589 mm of water in 1998. Onion crop evapotranspiration from emergence to the last irrigation totaled 681 mm in 1997 and 716 mm in 1998.
Eleven treatments in 1999 and thirteen treatments in 2000 containing single or combined nonconventional additives from eight manufacturers were compared with an untreated check for their effect on onion (Alliumcepa L.) yield and quality, and for their economic efficiency. The nonconventional additives were tested at commercial rates using the methods of application provided by the manufacturers. The products were applied to soil, foliage, or both. The treatments, including the check, were incorporated into standard cultural practices for onions. All treatments (with exception of an organic fertilizer treatment), including the check, were fertilized based on soil tests. In both years, none of the products evaluated significantly increased onion yield or quality compared to the untreated check. The organic fertilizer treatment, tested in 1999 only, resulted in significantly lower onion yield and size compared to the check. At the application rates used in this study, most of the products supplied plant nutrients or humic acid in amounts insufficient to expect improvements in crop production.
Seven potato cultivars were grown on silt loam with six N fertilizer treatments in 1992, 1993, and 1994 to evaluate varietal response to N fertilizer rate and timing under precision sprinkler irrigation. Crop evapotranspiration was replaced when the soil water potential at 0.2-m depth reached –60 kPa. Maximum yield responses were obtained using 0 to 134 kg N/ha, depending on the year and experimental site. In 1993 and 1994, with wheat as the previous crop, 134 kg N/ha maximized yields, over all varieties. In 1992, with alfalfa as the previous crop, there was no positive yield or grade response to N, over all varieties. Each year, available soil N accounting showed large surpluses for all treatments. Nitrogen mineralization contributed from 80 to 280 kg N/ha per year to the soil supply.
Potato response to water stress and changes in soil available-N levels in relation to irrigation management were evaluated in 1992, 1993, and 1994. Potatoes were grown on silt loam with sprinkler irrigation in an adequately irrigated check (100% of crop evapotranspiration replaced at –60 kPa) and three deficit irrigation regimes. Water stress treatments were achieved by partial or complete replacement of crop evapotranspiration when soil water potential reached –80 kPa. In 1992 and 1994, relatively warm years, tuber yield and grade were significantly reduced by water stress. In 1993, a relatively cool year, yield was reduced by water stress, but grade was not. Each year, soil available-N accounting for the season showed large surpluses for all treatments. Potato cultivars grown as subplots varied in their response to deficit irrigation.
Six soil water potential irrigation criteria (–12.5 to –100 kPa) were examined to determine levels for maximum onion yield and quality. Soil water potential at 0.2-m depth was measured by tensiometers and granular matrix sensors (Watermark Model 20055, Irrometer Co., Riverside, Calif.). Onions are highly sensitive to small soil water deficits. The crop needs frequent irrigations to maintain small negative soil water potentials for maximum yields. In each of 3 years, yield and bulb size increased with wetter treatments. In 1994, a relatively warm year, onion yield and bulb size were maximized at –12.5 kPa. In 1993, a relatively cool year, onion marketable yield peaked at –37.5 kPa due to a significant increase in rot during storage following the wetter treatments.
Onion yield and grade were compared under sprinkler, subsurface drip, and furrow irrigation in 1992, 1993, and 1994. Furrow-irrigated onions were planted on two double rows on 1.12-m-wide beds at 352,000 seeds/ha. Sprinkler- and drip-irrigated onions were planted in nine single rows on a 2.24-m-wide bed at 432,100 seeds/acre. Drip plots had three drip lines buried 0.10 m deep in each 2.24-m bed. Soil water potential at 0.2-m depth was measured by tensiometers and granular matrix sensors (Watermark Model 200SS, Irrometer Co., Riverside, Calif.). Furrow irrigations were started when the soil water potential at the 0.2-m depth reached –25 kPa. Drip-irrigated onions had soil water potential at the 0.2-m depth kept wetter than –25 kPa by daily replacement of crop evapotranspiration (Etc). Sprinkler irrigations were started when the accumulated Etc reached 25 mm. Sprinkler irrigation resulted in significantly higher onion yield than furrow irrigation in 1993 and 1994. Sprinkler irrigation resulted in higher marketable onion yield than furrow irrigation in 1993. Drip irrigation resulted in significantly higher onion yield than furrow irrigation every year. Drip irrigation resulted in higher marketable onion yield than furrow irrigation in 1992 and 1994. Marketable onion yield was reduced in 1993 due to rot during storage.
Onion (Allium cepa L.) production in the Treasure Valley of eastern Oregon and southwestern Idaho has been based on furrow irrigation with 318 kg·ha-1 N fertilizer and average yields of 70 Mg·ha-1, but these practices have been implicated in nitrate contamination of groundwater. Drip irrigation, introduced in the early 1990s, has several advantages, including reduced leaching losses. Since onion plant populations and N fertilizer rates can affect economic returns, studies were conducted in 1999, 2000, and 2001 to determine optimum plant populations and N fertilizer rates for subsurface drip-irrigated onion. Long-day onion (`Vision') was subjected to a combination of seven nitrogen fertilization rates (0 to 336 kg·ha-1 in 56-kg increments applied between late May and early July) and four plant populations (185, 250, 300, and 370 thousand plants/ha). Onion was grown on silt loam in two double rows spaced 0.56 m apart on 1.1 m beds with a drip tape buried 13 cm deep in the bed center. Soil water potential was maintained nearly constant at -20 kPa by automated irrigations based on soil water potential measurements at a 0.2-m depth. Onion bulbs were evaluated for yield and grade after 70 days of storage. Onion yield and grade were highly responsive to plant population. Onion marketable yield increased, and bulb diameter decreased with increasing plant population. Within the range of plant populations tested, gross returns were not always responsive to plant population. Returns were increased by the increase in marketable yield obtained with higher plant population, but higher plant population also reduced the production of the largest sized bulbs which had the highest value per weight. Onion yielded 95 Mg·ha-1 with no applied N fertilizer, averaged over plant populations and years. Onion yield and grade were not responsive to N fertilizer rate or interaction of N fertilizer rate with plant population. Preplant soil available N, N mineralization, and N in irrigation water all contributed N to the crop. Onion N uptake did not increase with increasing N fertilizer rate.