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Marc W. van Iersel, Matthew Chappell and John D. Lea-Cox

the modeling of crop water use or evapotranspiration (ET) based on weather conditions and crop-specific factors (e.g., Bauerle et al., 2002 ; Bauerle and Bowden, 2011 ; Beeson, 2010 ; Million et al., 2010 ). Although there are different ways to

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J.P. Syvertsen and J.M. Dunlop

We tested the hypothesis that amendments of two hydrophilic gels to a sand soil would reduce N leaching losses and increase growth of citrus seedlings. Three-month-old seedlings of `Swingle' citrumelo [Citrus paradisi Macf. × Poncirus trifoliata (L.) Raf.] were transplanted into containers of steam-sterilized Candler sand, amended with a linear acrylamide/acrylate copolymer (PAM), and/or a cross-linked copolymer agronomic gel (AGRO). Two rates of each amendment were applied either alone or together and were either mixed into dry sand prior to seedling transplant, used as a root-dip slurry at transplant or applied to the soil surface in a solution after transplant. Seedlings were grown in the greenhouse for 5 months and irrigated to container capacity with a dilute nutrient solution without leaching. Pots were leached every 2 weeks and total N losses from the soil were measured in the leachate. PAM amendments increased N retention in soil slightly but PAM had no effect on plant growth, water use, N uptake, or N leaching relative to unamended control plants. The AGRO amendments increased seedling growth, plant water use and uptake of N from 11% to 45% above that of the unamended control plants depending on application method. AGRO decreased N concentrations in the leachate to as low as 1 to 6 mg·L-1. Only 6% of the total applied N was leached from the AGRO treatments, which was about half that from the untreated control plants. There was no additional benefit of using both amendments together or of an additional AGRO root dip treatment. The largest plants used the most water, required the most N and had the greatest N uptake efficiency. AGRO amendments clearly enhanced seedling growth, increased their N uptake efficiency, and reduced N losses from this sand soil.

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Roberto Núñez-Elisea, Bruce Schaffer, Mongi Zekri, Stephen K. O'Hair and Jonathan H. Crane

Most tropical fruit trees in southern Florida are grown in calcareous gravelly soil that is mechanically trenched to a depth of about 50 cm (about 20 inches). Fruit trees are often planted at the intersections of perpendicular trenches to provide space for root development. Tree root systems are concentrated in the top 10 to 20 cm (about 4 to 8 inches) of soil. Extreme soil rockiness has made it difficult to obtain consistent and reliable measurements of soil water status and to collect soil samples for constructing soil-water characteristic curves in the laboratory. Multisensor capacitance probes andlow-tension [0 to 40 kPa (centibars) (0 to 5.8 lb/inch2)] tensiometers were installed adjacent to star fruit (Averrhoa carambola L.) and avocado (Persea americana Mill.) trees in trenches to simultaneously measure volumetric soil water content and soil matric potential in situ. Capacitance probes consisted of four sensors centered at depths of 10, 20, 30, and 50 cm (3.9, 7.9, 11.8, and 19.7 inches). Tensiometers were installed at 10- and 30-cm depths, adjacent to the 10- and 30-cm deep capacitance sensors. Measurements obtained with both instruments were used to generate in situ soil-water characteristic curves. Rock fragments were more abundant at 30 cm than at 10 cm (71% to 73% versus 26% to 38% of bulk soil volume, respectively) soil depth, which limited the precision of tensiometers at the greater depth. In situ soil water characteristic curves for the 10-cm soil depth can be used to determine parameters needed for irrigation scheduling by techniques such as the water budget method.

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C. J. Phene, R.B. Hutmacher and K.R. Davis

Processing tomato is an important crop in California, where ≈ 100,000 ha is grown annually. In the past, processing tomatoes have been irrigated mostly by sprinkler and furrow irrigation, although several tests have been conducted with drip irrigation, and a few growers are using subsurface drip irrigation. Yields of tomato have been shown to be sensitive to water management when the amount of irrigation water closely matches plant water use. Tomatoes have been identified as susceptible to drought stress and waterlogging at both ends of the furrow irrigation cycle. Subsurface drip irrigation is a relatively new method in which drip irrigation laterals are buried permanently 20 to 60 cm below the soil surface. This method has provided the control and uniformity of water and fertilizer distribution necessary to maximize the yield of processing tomatoes. A computerized control system maintains nearly constant soil water and nutrient concentration in the root zone by irrigating and fertilizing frequently, thus avoiding small water and nutrient stresses, especially during the critical period between first and peak bloom. During the maturation and ripening stage, irrigation and nutrient concentrations can be adjusted to increase soluble solids and to adjust the maturation rate to coincide with the harvest schedule. Maximum yield levels can be obtained when nearly all the fertilizers (N, P, and K) are injected precisely in time and space through the drip irrigation system to meet the crop nutrient requirement. Water-use efficiency (WUE), defined as the ratio of yield: unit of water used by the plant, can be maximized by using this precise irrigation and fertilization technique. Yields >200 t·ha-1 of red tomatoes were achieved in large field plot research, and commercial yields of 150 t·ha-1 were achieved in large-scale field applications with a lesser degree of control. Therefore, we predict that with further fine-tuning, commercial yields of 200 tons of processing tomatoes/ha could be achieved using a subsurface drip irrigation system with accurate water and fertility management.

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Joan R. Davenport and Mary J. Hattendorf

Potatoes (Solanum tuberosum L.) are grown extensively throughout the Pacific northwestern United States as a high value crop in irrigated rotations with other row crops such as wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) and both field and sweet corn (Zea mays L.). Center pivots are the predominant irrigation systems. Soil texture ranges from coarse sands to finer textured silt loams and silts and can vary within one field, particularly in fields with hilly topography. Site specific management is being evaluated as an approach to help to optimize inputs (water, seed, agricultural chemicals) to maintain or enhance yield and reduce potential negative environmental impacts from these farming systems. Currently, variable rate fertilizer application technology and harvest yield monitoring equipment are commercially available for potato. Variable rate seeding and variable rate irrigation water application technologies are developed but not fully commercialized and variable rate pesticide application equipment is in development. At the Irrigated Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Prosser, Wash., we have a team of research scientists, interested individuals from local industry, and other key organizations (e.g. local conservation districts) who are working together to evaluate different site specific technologies, improve the ability to use available tools, and to improve decision-making ability by conducting research both on farm and in research plots.

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Angela K. Durhman, D. Bradley Rowe and Clayton L. Rugh

Green roofs, or vegetative or living roofs, are an emerging technology in the United States. Because environmental conditions are often more extreme on rooftops, many xerophytic plants, especially Sedum, are ideal for extensive green roofs because they are physiologically and morphologically adapted to withstand drought. A greenhouse experiment was conducted to determine the effect of watering regimens on plant stress as measured by chlorophyll fluorescence (Fv/Fm), biomass accumulation, substrate moisture, and evapotransipiration on succulent plants of Sedum acre L., S. reflexum L., S. kamtschaticum ellacombianum Fisch., and non-Crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) plants of Schizachyrium scoparium Nash and Coreopsis lanceolata L. Plants were grown at a substrate depth of 7.5 cm. Results indicate even after the 4-month period, Sedum spp. survived and maintained active photosynthetic metabolism to a greater extent than Schizachyrium and Coreopsis. Furthermore, when Sedum was watered after 28 days of drought, chlorophyll fluorescence (Fv/Fm) values recovered to values characteristic of the 2 days between watering (DBW) treatment. In contrast, the non-CAM plants required watering frequency every other day to survive and maintain active growth and development. Regardless of species, the greatest increase in total biomass accumulation and fastest growth occurred under the 2 DBW regimens.

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David R. Bryla, Elizabeth Dickson, Robert Shenk, R. Scott Johnson, Carlos H. Crisosto and Thomas J. Trout

A 3-year study was done to determine the effects of furrow, microspray, surface drip, and subsurface drip irrigation on production and fruit quality in mature `Crimson Lady' peach [Prunus persica (L.) Batsch] trees. Furrow and microspray irrigations were scheduled weekly or biweekly, which is common practice in central California, while surface and subsurface drip irrigations were scheduled daily. Trees were maintained at similar water potentials following irrigation by adjusting water applications as needed. Tree size and fruit number were normalized among treatments by pruning and thinning each season. Surface and subsurface drip produced the largest fruit on average and the highest marketable yields among treatments. Drip benefits appeared most related to the ability to apply frequent irrigations. Whether water was applied above or below ground, daily irrigations by drip maintained higher soil water content within the root zone and prevented cycles of water stress found between less-frequent furrow and microspray irrigations. With furrow and microsprays, midday tree water potentials reached as low as –1.4 MPa between weekly irrigations and –1.8 MPa between biweekly irrigations, which likely accounted for smaller fruit and lower yields in these treatments. To reduce water stress, more frequent irrigation is probably impractical with furrow systems but is recommended when irrigating during peak water demands by microspray.

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Marc W. Van Iersel, Sue Dove, Jong-Goo Kang and Stephanie E. Burnett

More efficient irrigation practices are needed in ornamental plant production to reduce the amount of water used for production as well as runoff of fertilizers and pesticides. The objective of this study was to determine how different substrate volumetric water contents (θ) affected petunia (Petunia ×hybrida) growth and to quantify the daily water use of the plants. A soil moisture sensor-controlled irrigation system was used to maintain θ within ≈0.02 m3·m−3 of the θ threshold values for irrigation, which ranged from 0.05 to 0.40 m3·m−3. Shoot dry weight increased as the θ threshold increased from 0.05 to 0.25 m3·m−3 and was correlated with the total amount of irrigation water applied over the 3-week course of the experiment. The daily water use of the petunias grown with a θ threshold of 0.40 m3·m−3 was 12 to 44 mL/plant and was positively correlated with both plant age and daily light integral. Lower θ thresholds resulted in a decrease in both leaf water (ψ) and osmotic potential (ψS). A decrease in turgor pressure (P) at lower θ was seen at 11, but not 20 days after the start of the treatments. There were no significant effects of θ on ψ, ψS, or P on fully rehydrated plants at the end of the study. Plants were able to survive and grow at all θs, although water at a θ less than 0.20 m3·m−3 is generally considered to be unavailable to the plants. Results show that it is possible to automatically irrigate plants with the use of soil moisture sensors, and this approach to irrigation may have applications in controlling the growth of ornamental plants.

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Eric H. Simonne, Doyle A. Smittle and Harry A. Mills

Abbreviations: Ai, allowable water use; ASW, available soil water; CF, crop factor; di, daily water use; Di, cumulative soil water deficit; DAP, days after planting; Ep, class A pan evaporation; ET, evapotranspiration; i, plant age; I, irrigation; R

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Jeffrey C. Stark, Joseph J. Pavek and Ian R. McCann

Abbreviations: DSI, drought susceptibility index; ET, evapotranspiration; AT, canopy - air temperature; VPD, vapor pressure deficit. 1 Associate Professor, Dept. of Plant, Soil and Entomological Sciences. 2 Research Geneticist, U.S. Dept. of