Search Results

You are looking at 1 - 3 of 3 items for

  • Author or Editor: Julián Miralles-Crespo x
Clear All Modify Search

Irrigation control systems that irrigate container-grown plants based on crop water needs can reduce water and fertilizer use and increase the sustainability of ornamental crop production. The use of soil moisture sensors to determine when to irrigate is a viable option. We tested a commercially available irrigation controller (CS3500; Acclima, Meridian, ID), which uses time domain transmissometry (TDT) sensors to measure soil volumetric water content (θ). The objectives of this study were: 1) to test the accuracy of TDT sensors in soilless substrate; 2) to quantify the ability of the Acclima CS3500 irrigation controller to maintain stable θ readings during the production of container-grown begonia (Begonia semperflorens L.) by turning a drip irrigation system on and off as needed; and 3) to study the growth and photosynthetic physiology of begonia at six θ levels. Calibration of the TDT sensors in pots filled with substrate (but without plants) showed that the θ determined by the TDT sensors had a very close relationship (R 2 = 0.99) with the gravimetrically determined θ, but the TDT sensors underestimated θ by ≈0.08 m3·m−3. Therefore, a custom calibration of the TDT sensors for the soilless substrate was necessary to get accurate θ data. The irrigation controller was programmed to maintain six θ thresholds, ranging from 0.136 to 0.472 m3·m−3 (based on our own sensor calibration), and was able to maintain θ readings within 0.008 m3·m−3 of the threshold. Theta and Sigma probes were used to collect comparative θ and bulk electrical conductivity (EC) data, respectively. The results showed a strong correlation with TDT sensor measurements of θ (R 2 = 0.92) but a moderate relationship for bulk EC (R 2 = 0.53). The begonias had similar dry weight at θ levels of 0.348 m3·m−3 and higher, whereas total evapotranspiration increased linearly with the θ threshold. The lowest θ threshold reduced leaf size, net photosynthesis (Pn), and stomatal conductance (g S). Overall, the TDT sensors can provide accurate measurements of θ in soilless substrate but need substrate-specific calibration. The Acclima CS3500 controller, using TDT sensors, was able to maintain stable θ readings throughout a production cycle. These results suggest that this irrigation controller may be suitable for production of greenhouse crops as well as in drought stress research.

Free access

Physiological and biochemical indicators that reflect the responses of plants to chilling stress could be useful for identifying plant damage caused by freezing or other stresses. The objective of this study was to determine any relationship between changes in chlorophyll fluorescence and the appearance of visual symptoms resulting from freezing temperatures in two cultivars of oleander. In the least frost-sensitive cultivar (yellow oleander), freezing temperatures (–4 °C for 3 h) did not produce changes in the photochemical parameters. In the more frost-sensitive cultivar (pink oleander), non-photochemical quenching (NPQ) and the maximum photochemical efficiency of photosystem II (Fv/Fm) decreased after the same freezing treatment. The first of these potential indicators remained low, whereas the second steadily recovered during the 4 months after freezing simulation. The results suggest that measuring chlorophyll fluorescence may provide a rapid method for assessing freezing injury in oleander.

Free access

The dendrometer has been proposed as a sensitive plant water indicator based on stem growth. However, studies including dendrometers have been mainly focused on fruit trees and less attention has been paid to ornamental shrubs (small plants). In the study described here, stem dendrometers were used to ascertain whether there is any relationship between water status and dendrometric indices in potted ornamental shrubs (1 to 2 cm diameter). For this purpose, three Mediterranean shrubs (Pittosporum tobira, Callistemon citrinus, and Rhamnus alaternus) were studied under water stress recovery conditions in winter, spring, and early summer. At the end of the experiment, an extreme water stress treatment, which resulted in plant death (August) was also studied. Stem diameter variations [maximum and minimum daily stem values (MXDS and MNDS, respectively), maximum daily shrinkage (MDS), and stem growth rate (SGR)], daily evapotranspiration (daily plant ET), and leaf water potential (Ψleaf) parameters were considered throughout the experiment. A regression analysis between dendrometric indices and daily plant ET showed that MXDS and MNDS were sensitive under water stress recovery conditions, especially in severe environmental conditions (spring and summer). The SGR in C. citrinus, the MDS in P. tobira, and both indices in R. alaternus were seen to be sensitive during the stress to death period. Although more studies are needed, the results confirm that the use of dendrometers in small plants may be useful to provide continuous and automated registers of the plant water status under different substrate water content and climatic conditions. However, the response of these indices may imply moderate water stress.

Free access