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  • Author or Editor: John Biernbaum x
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Hybrid impatiens (Impatiens wallerana Hook. F.) were planted into media containing two dolomitic liming materials {hydrated [Ca(OH)2 and Mg(OH)2] or carbonate (CaCO3 and MgCO3) lime} and subirrigated for 17 weeks with four irrigation water sources (IWS) and three water-soluble fertilizers (WSF). The WSF contained 200N–20P–200K mg·L-1 but varied in NH4 +-N content (50%, 25%, or 3%, respectively). Depending on the IWS and lime type used in the media, root-medium pH ranged from 4.5 to 6.0, 4.8 to 7.1, and 6.0 to 8.5 when treated with WSF containing either 50%, 25%, or 3% NH4 +-N, respectively, between 8 and 17 weeks after planting. The accumulation of NH4 +-N and NO3 --N in the root medium was different for treatments receiving the same WSF and depended on root-medium pH. The critical root-medium pH for NH4 +-N accumulation was between 5.4 and 5.7, and for NO3 --N, accumulation was between 5.3 to 5.9. Above this pH, minimal NH4 +-N concentrations were measured in the medium, even with 50% or 25% NH4 +-N WSF, while below this pH, NH4 +-N began to accumulate in the medium with a corresponding decrease in the NO3 --N concentration. The NH4-N: NO3-N ratios in the WSF had minimal effect on shoot fresh and dry weights. Tissue N concentration was higher with the higher NH4-N : NO3-N ratio WSF at all four sampling dates. There was a linear relationship between higher tissue N and lower root-medium pH with the same WSF, possibly due to differences in the ratio of NH4-N: NO3-N actually taken up by the plant.

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Four experiments were conducted with six liming materials of different particle sizes and six commercially available blended preplant nutrient charge (PNC) materials in the laboratory and in container culture with subirrigation for durations up to twenty-eight days. Liming material, particle size, and incorporation rate affected both the initial and final stable pH of one type of peat without an incorporated PNC. Saturated media extract (SME) Ca2+ and Mg2+ concentrations were below the acceptable recommended concentrations for both pulverized and superfine dolomitic lime at incorporation rates up to 7.2 kg·m-3. For the blended PNC materials, initial N, P, K+, Ca2+, and Mg2+ concentrations for five of the six PNC materials were at or above the optimal concentrations recommended for an SME, but did not remain persistent in the root zone. A large percentage of all nutrients tested moved from the root zone into the top 3 cm (top layer) of the pot within two days after planting. Nutrient concentrations in the top layer continued to increase even when nutrient concentrations in the root zone fell below acceptable levels for an SME. The importance of this fertilizer salt stratification within the pot lies in the reduced availability of nutrients to the plant.

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Hybrid impatiens were grown in 15 cm pots containing one of six root medium. After seven weeks, plant available water holding capacity (AWHC) was measured as the difference between the drained weight of the plant and pot after a one hour saturation and the weight of the pot when the plant wilted. Water absorption potential (WAP) was calculated as the capacity of each root medium to absorb applied irrigation water up to the AWHC and was measured at two moisture levels with top watering (two leaching fractions), drip irrigation (two leaching fractions) and flood subirrigation. Top watering moist media (initial AWHC = 35%) with leaching fractions of 30+ % was me most efficient method of rewetting media and was the only irrigation method tested to obtain WAP's of 100%. In comparison, flood subirrigation was the least efficient method of rewetting media with WAP of 27% for dry media (initial AWHC = 0%), and obtained a total WAP of 55% for moist media (initial AWHC = 23%). In media comparisons, the incorporation of a wetting agent into a 70% peat/30% bark mix at planting increased the WAP compared to the same media without a wetting agent with nine of the ten irrigation treatments.

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The evaporation of water is a major source of water loss from potted plants which can be eliminated by placing a barrier at the exposed surface of media in the pot. To better understand the effect of reducing surface evaporation on growth and media nutrient concentration, 15 cm subirrigated poinsettias were produced with and without a pot cover. Both treatments received the same quantity of fertilizer, 75 mg·week-1 N for a total of 13 fertilizations. Uncovered pots received 12 more irrigations than pots with covers (20 vs. 32). Sixteen weeks after planting, covered plants had significantly less leaf area (2175 vs 2628 cm2), bract area (1655 vs 2137 cm2), height (24.1 vs 27.6 cm), fresh mass (116 vs 144 g) and dry mass (17 vs 20 g) than uncovered plants. Concentrations of N, P, K, Ca and Mg and EC (4.23 vs 2.65 mS·cm-1) were higher in the root-zone of covered plants than in uncovered plant. Covering the media surface did reduce the EC and the concentrations of N, P, K, Ca and Mg in the top layer (eg 13.47 mS·cm-1 vs 15.74 mS·cm-1) but stratification of salts to the top layer still occurred. Fertilizer salts in the top layer were shown to be less available to the plant than those in the root zone.

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The influence of fertilizer concentration and leaching volume on the quantity of applied N and water that were leached from a container-grown poinsettia crop (Euphorbia pulcherrima Willd.) was investigated. The NO3-N quantity leached after 71 days increased with higher NO3-N application rates (7, 14, or 28 mol NO3-N/m3) and higher leaching volumes; it ranged from 0.03 g NO3-N [7 mol·m-3, 0.00 container capacity leached (CCL)] to 7.65 g NO3-N (28 mol·m-3, 1.0 CCL). The NO3-N concentration for saturated media extracts increased with lower leaching volumes and higher fertilizer concentrations. For example, when 7 mol NO3-N/m3 was applied, NO3-N in the medium was 27.1 mol NO3-N/m3 when 0 CCL was used, but it was 8.6 mol NO3-N/m3 when 1.0 CCL was used. Shoot height and dry mass were not affected by the treatments. Leaching treatments also did not influenced leaf area, but leaf area was larger at 7 compared to 14 or 28 mol NO3-N/m3.

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A model was constructed to dynamically simulate how the nitrogen concentration changes in the root zone of a pot grown chrysanthemum. The root zone concentration of nitrogen is predicted at any time during the crop by predicting the root zone contents of nitrogen and water. The root zone content of nitrogen is predicted by integrating the rates of nitrogen applied, taken up by the plant and entering the top layer of the pot. The root zone water content is predicted by integrating the rates of water applied, evaporated from the media surface and transpired by the plant. Simple models were constructed to predict the various rate processes. For example the rate of nitrogen uptake was modeled as a function of the dry mass accumulation and was broken down into demands of nitrogen by the plant for maintenance of the current dry mass and for support of new growth. Dry mass accumulation was modeled as a function of the amount of PPF which could be intercepted by the plant. The model was validated using plants grown in growth chambers and greenhouses at various PPF levels and fertilizer concentrations. The model will be used to test the risks involved in using various fertilizer strategies and to develop more efficient fertilization strategies.

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Hybrid impatiens (Impatiens Wallerana Hook. F.) were planted in six root media containing either 70% (by volume) rockwool, coir, or four types of sphagnum peat and 30% perlite. The six media varied in cation exchange capacities (CEC) (from 5 to 76 meq·L-1) and the amount of a dolomitic hydrated lime [Ca(OH)2 and Mg(OH)2 at 0 to 4.5 kg·m-3) required to obtain an initial pH of ≈6.0. Two additional treatments were produced by using a dolomitic carbonate lime (CaCO3 and MgCO3) at 8.4 kg·m-3 instead of the hydrated lime in two of the sphagnum peat media. Plants were subirrigated for 17 weeks using three nutrient solutions (NS) that contained at 200N-20P-200K mg·L-1 but had a variable NH4 : NO3 ratio and Ca2+ and Mg2+ content. The NS were designed to produce either acidic, neutral, or basic reactions in the medium. In media containing the hydrated lime, the NS was the primary factor controlling medium pH. However, within each NS treatment, the media did have some effect on buffering the pH over time. There was a linear increase in shoot-tissue Ca and Mg as the applied concentration of Ca2+ increased from 18 to 156 mg·L-1 and that of Mg2+ increased from 5 to 56 mg·L-1. Linear regression analysis of shoot-tissue Ca and Mg based on their concentration in the NS indicated a similar overall decrease in the Ca and Mg supply in all six root media over time. For plants grown in media containing the carbonate lime, shoot dry mass was similar to that of plants grown in the same media with hydrated lime. The presence of the carbonate lime in the media increased the pH buffering capacity against decreasing pH with the acidic and neutral NS but not against increasing pH with the basic NS. In the media containing the carbonate lime and given the acidic NS, root-medium and shoot-tissue Ca and Mg increased by weeks 12 and 17 compared to that of the same medium containing the hydrated lime. There were minimal differences in root-media and shoot-tissue Ca and Mg concentration between lime treatments when given the neutral or basic NS.

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Hybrid impatiens (Impatiens Wallerana Hook. F.) were planted in a peat-based medium containing two dolomitic liming materials (1.8 kg Ca(OH)2·Mg(OH)2/m3 or 8.4 kg CaCO3·MgCO3/m3) and subirrigated for 17 weeks using four irrigation-water sources (IWSs) with varied bicarbonate alkalinity, Ca2+, Mg2+, and SO4-S content and three water-soluble fertilizers (WSFs) that contained (in mg) 200N-20P-200K/liter but a variable NH4: NO3 ratio, Ca2+, Mg2+, and SO4-S content. The factorial arrangement of the IWS and WSF resulted in a range of Ca2+, Mg2+, and SO4-S concentrations varying by a factor of 10. After 8 weeks, medium pH ranged from 4.5 to 8.5. The maximum critical medium pH for PO4-P uptake was 7.4 to 7.7, which probably was due to a change in most of the water-soluble P to the less-available HPO4 2- form. Lime type did not affect the long-term increase in medium pH, Ca2+, and Mg2+ concentrations with nutrient solutions containing low NH4 +-N and high Ca2+ and Mg2+. The carbonate lime buffered the medium pH and Ca2+ and Mg2+ concentrations with nutrient solutions containing high NH4 +-N and low Ca2+ and Mg2+ compared to that measured with the hydrated lime. With both lime types, there was a linear increase in tissue Ca and Mg as the applied concentrations of the various nutrient solutions increased from 18 to 210 mg Ca2+/liter and 7 to 90 mg Mg2+/liter. The relationship was similar for both lime types up to week 8, after which tissue Ca and Mg decreased more rapidly with the hydrated lime and low solution Ca2+ and Mg2+ compared to that of the same carbonate lime treatments. The minimum critical SO4-S concentration in the applied nutrient solution for plant uptake was 30 to 40 mg S/liter. Below this concentration, tissue S decreased rapidly; above, there was little effect on tissue S.

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Using incubation and container culture with subirrigation for up to 28 days, three experiments were conducted with six liming materials of different particle sizes and six blended preplant nutrient charge (PNC) fertilizers. Liming material, particle size, and incorporation rate had an effect on the initial pH (3.5 to 6.1) and the final stable pH (4.8 to 7.8) with one type of Canadian sphagnum peat that did not contain an incorporated PNC. Saturated media extract (SME) Ca and Mg concentrations were <25 and 15 mg·liter-1, respectively, for both pulverized and superfine dolomitic lime at incorporation rates up to 7.2 kg·m-3. For the blended PNC fertilizers in media containing lime, initial electrical conductivity (EC) and SME nutrient concentrations ranged from (EC) 1.0 to 2.9 dS·m-1, (mg·liter-1) 60 to 300 N, 4 to 105 PO4-P, 85 to 250 K, 120 to 400 Ca, and 60 to 220 Mg. However, within two days, the rapid stratification of fertilizer salts within the pot caused macronutrient concentrations to increase in the top 3 cm of root medium (top layer) by an average of 180% and decrease in the remaining root medium in the pot (root zone) by an average of 57% compared to that measured in the medium at planting. Nutrient concentrations in the top layer continued to increase even when those in the root zone fell below acceptable levels recommended for an SME. The importance of fertilizer salt stratification within a pot lies in the reduced availability of nutrients to the plant and illustrates the limited persistence of the PNC fertilizers. Testing nutrients in container media several days after planting rather than in freshly mixed media may be more representative of the starting point for a nutritional management program.

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