Most commercial and university substrate testing laboratories' recommended floriculture nutritional values are based on the saturated media extract (SME) method. With the recent gain in popularity of pour-through nutritional monitoring, alternative recommended values are needed for nutrient analyses based on pour-through extracts. Pour-through nutritional values were compared to the SME values to develop calibration curves and recommended nutritional values. Euphorbia pulcherrima `Freedom Red' Willd. ex Klotzch. were grown for two consecutive growing seasons in 16.5 cm plastic pots with Fafard 4 P root substrate and fertigated with 200, 300, or 400 mg·L-1 N from a 13N-0.88P-10.8K fertilizer. Linear relationships existed and inverse calibration curves for pour-through and SME comparisons were developed for (r 2): EC (0.98), NO3 - (0.98), P (0.97 to 0.99), K (0.99), Ca (0.94 to 0.97), and Mg (0.91). In addition, recommended pour-through substrate value ranges were developed for comparison with SME values. The established calibration curves and pour-through substrate value ranges will allow substrate-testing laboratories to make nutritional recommendations based on pour-through extractions.
Todd J. Cavins, Brian E. Whipker, and William C. Fonteno
Holly L. Scoggins, Douglas A. Bailey, and Paul V. Nelson
There is a need for a substrate testing method suited for plug plant production. Methods currently used by most growers and analytical labs include the saturated media extract (SME) and the 2 water: 1 substrate (v/v) suspension. These methods are not particularly well-adapted to plug production. The press extraction (PE) method has been developed as a simple and quick alternative to these methods. However, interpretive standards for chemical analysis of plug substrates do not exist for PE. This study was designed to provide the necessary correlations between these methods to allow for development of pH, electrical conductivity (EC), and nutrient interpretive ranges for plugs. Plugs of begonia (Begonia ×semperflorens-hybrida Hort.), impatiens (Impatiens walleriana Hook. f.), marigold (Tagetes erecta L.), petunia (Petunia ×hybrida Hort. Vilm.-Andr.), salvia (Salvia splendens F. Sellow ex Roem. & Schult.), and vinca (Catharanthus roseus L.) were collected from commercial greenhouses and the substrate solution extracted with the PE, SME, and 1:2 methods. Plugs of begonia, celosia (Celosia argentea L. var. cristata (L.) Kuntze Plumosa Group), marigold, petunia, and vinca were grown with three fertilizer rates of 50, 150, and 250 mg·L-1 N. Shoots were harvested 30 days after planting and the solution was extracted from each flat using the three methods. For both experiments, PE EC was equal to or higher than the SME EC, and the pH was equal to or lower than the SME pH. The pH from the 1:2 was also similar to the PE. However, 1:2 EC results were consistently the lowest because of the dilution inherent in the 1:2 method. Interpretation ranges for pH and EC relationships were calculated to compare results from the PE with published sufficiency ranges for the SME and 1:2.
Holly L. Scoggins, Douglas A. Bailey, and Paul V. Nelson
Substrate electrical conductivity (EC), pH, and nutrient content should be monitored frequently during seedling plug production. Current testing methods are either complicated, unsuited to plug production, or interpretation standards do not exist. This study compares the press extraction (PE) method developed at North Carolina State Univ. with the saturated media extract (SME) method and the 1 substrate: 2 water suspension method (1:2). These solution extraction methods were applied to plug trays containing peat-based germination mix treated with four levels of fertilizer. Two sample sizes of 20 or 60 plug cells were used to determine if the smaller, less destructive sample size would produce satisfactory results. Resulting pH values varied within 0.3 units among methods, but variability in EC and nutrient content was greater. The PE method resulted in the highest values for EC, NH4 +-N, NO3 --N, K, Ca, and Mg while sample size had little effect on analyses. The three extraction methods were then compared on peat- and coir-based substrates. Within substrates, pH, EC, and nutrients tested were similar for the PE and the SME. The coir extract had a higher pH and much higher levels of K and Na than did the peat extract but was lower in N, P, Ca, and Mg. Overall, fairly strong correlations among testing methods were found, especially between the SME and PE.
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.
Holly L. Scoggins and Marc W. van Iersel
Growing medium electrical conductivity (EC) is used in laboratory analysis and greenhouse production as a measure of the nutrient content of the growing medium. Fast, accurate ways to measure growing medium EC will make it easier to determine EC and maintain it within a suitable range for a particular crop. Several probes have been developed that can be inserted directly into the growing medium of container-grown crops for measurement of EC. We tested the sensitivity of four in situ EC probes (Field Scout, HI 76305, WET sensor, and SigmaProbe) at a range of temperatures, substrate volumetric water contents (VWC), and fertilizer concentrations. The HI 76305 probe was highly sensitive to temperature, while the WET sensor was temperature-sensitive at high ECs above its normal operating range. The probes responded differently to increasing VWC. The SigmaProbe and WET sensor measure the EC of the pore water specifically and show a decrease in EC with increasing water content, as the fertilizer ions in the pore water become more diluted as VWC increases. EC readings of the HI 76305 and Field Scout probes, which measure the EC of the bulk substrate (growing medium, water, and air combined) increased with increasing water content as the added water helps conduct the current of these meters. At a VWC above 35%, there was little effect of VWC on EC readings of all probes. The EC measured with the various in situ probes differed slightly among the probes but was highly and positively correlated with all three of the standard solution extraction methods [pour-through, 1:2 dilution, and saturated media extract (SME)] over the range of fertilizer concentrations at a given temperature and VWC. These results make it possible to convert substrate EC guidelines that have been established for any of the three standard methods for use with the in situ probes, though our results indicate the substrate VWC must be above 35% for the interpretation to be valid. The in situ probes are a viable alternative for measurements of substrate EC and eliminate the step of substrate solution extraction, thus simplifying data collection.
James E. Altland and M. Gabriela Buamscha
. Bark samples were analyzed for pH, ammonium (NH 4 -N), nitrate (NO 3 -N), P, K, Ca, Mg, and sulfate (SO 4 2− ) using the saturated media extract (SME) method with deionized water as the extractant ( Gavlak et al., 2003 ; Warncke, 1998 ). Boron, Fe
Mary Ann Rose and Hao Wang
Micronutrient supplements were applied to container rhododendron (Rhododendron L. × `Girards Scarlet' [Girard Evergreen Hybrid Group]) in three forms: uncoated micronutrient fertilizer; slow-release, NPK-plus-minors fertilizer; and biosolids compost (15% v/v). Control plants received no supplement. While all micronutrient treatments had significantly higher foliar Mn or Cu concentrations than controls 1 year after potting, they did not increase growth (dry weight) or plant quality. At 1, 3, and 12 months after potting, the compost treatment had significantly higher diethylenetriaminepentaacetic acid (DTPA)-extractable levels of Mn, Fe, and Zn in the medium. Only one micronutrient fertilizer treatment increased extractable micronutrient concentrations (Cu) on all testing dates. Correlations between medium-extractable and foliar micronutrient concentrations were low (r 2 < 0.30). Vigorous growth in the control treatment suggested that adequate levels of micronutrients were supplied by the pine bark-hardwood bark-peat-sand medium. September concentrations [ppm (mg·L-1)] as low as 2.0 Mn, 17.8 Fe, 0.3 Cu, 4.2 Zn, and 0.9 B in DTPA extracts produced acceptable growth in rhododendron through the following June.
Sreenivas Konduru, Michael R. Evans, and Robert H. Stamps
Chemical characteristics of saturated media extracts of coconut (Cocos nuc L.) coir dust were determined from material from different sources (producers and countries) and were found to be source-dependent. For all samples tested, the pH was between 5.5 and 6.6, and the electrical conductivity ranged from 0.2 to 2.4 cm–1. Nitrate-N levels were between 0.3 and 8 ppm, and ammoniacal-N levels were 0.2 ppm or less. Calcium and Mg levels ranged from 1 to 24 and 1 to 3 ppm, respectively. Potassium and Cl levels ranged widely from 16 to 686 and 24 to 600 ppm, respectively. Sodium levels were between 28 and 53 ppm. The levels of B, Cu, Fe, Mn, and Zn were <1 ppm. Although there were significant differences between producers within a country, sources originating from different countries were found to have the greatest differences in chemical characteristics.
William R. Argo and John A. Biernbaum
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.
Harvey J. Lang
Analysts of potting media for pH and electrical conductivity (EC) can be a useful tool for monitoring the nutritional status of greenhouse grown plants. This research examined the variability associated with procedures involved in the determination of pH and EC in greenhouse potting media. Three commonly used methods, the 1:5 dilution, the 1:2 dilution and the saturated media extract, were examined on several different commercial potting media. Because of the different dilution volumes used, there were significant differences in pH and EC between the three methods for all media tested. Within each method, results varied baaed on whether readings were taken in the slurry, solution phase, or extract, with extracts resulting in consistently higher pH, but lower EC values. There was a significant effect of medium-solution equilibration time on both pH and EC, with variability decreasing after 30 minutes of equilibration. Samples taken from the upper half of pots had higher EC readings than those collected from the bottom half of pots only on plants fertilized with N concentrations greater than 200 ppm. There was also slight variability between the different calibrated instruments used in determining pH and EC. Details of each study along with grower recommendations will be discussed.