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Catherine S. Fleming, Mark S. Reiter, Joshua H. Freeman, and Rory Maguire

scheduling on sandy soils in Florida and suggested using a tensiometer that provided a direct measurement of soil matric potential at the installed depth. In addition to calculated ET that determined the amount to irrigate, a tensiometer can indicate when to

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Timothy Coolong, Susmitha Surendran, and Richard Warner

tensiometer or granular matrix type sensor ( Munoz-Carpena et al., 2005 ; Richards and Gardner, 1936 ; Smajstrla and Locascio, 1996 ; Thompson et al., 2006 ). These methods require routine monitoring of sensor(s), with irrigation decisions made when soil

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S.M. Scheiber and Richard C. Beeson, Jr

As demands on potable water supplies increase, water management officials are seeking solutions beyond restrictions on irrigation schedules. Demand-based irrigation systems such as tensiometers monitor soil moisture levels then deliver irrigation

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R.E. Gaussoin, J.A. Murphy, and B.E. Branham

A method for measuring soil water potential in field soils was adapted for use in turfgrass soils. The system uses tensiometers installed flush with the soil surface and permits a measuring depth as shallow as 2.5 to 5.0 cm. Water potential within a tensiometer was measured with a portable pressure transducer. Linear relationships between water potential measured with mercury manometers or vacuum gauge-equipped tensiometers and the pressure transducer were obtained (r2 = 0.99 and 0.97, respectively). The system accurately measures soil water potential of turfgrass soils, while permitting routine cultural practices to be performed.

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Edward Bush, Ann Gray, Virginia Thaxton, and Paul Wilson

Proper irrigation management is essential for producing quality container-grown woody ornamentals and reducing off-site runoff. Research has shown that tensiometers can be used as an effective tool to schedule irrigation for woody ornamentals. The objective of this experiment was to compare the effect of cyclic and tensiometric irrigation methods on growth of lantana. Lantana camara `New Gold' liners were established in a 3 pine bark: 1 peat:1 mason sand (by volume) medium. Low-tension switch tensiometers were compared to scheduled overhead [one time a day (1×) at 0600 and cyclic irrigation three times a day (3×) at 0600, 1200, and 1800] for the production of 1-gallon lantana plants. Three low-tension tensiometers (1/block) were set at 7 cb and allowed to irrigate over a 12-hour period. Three separate planting dates occurred and then terminated after ≈7 weeks. Tensiometric irrigation increased root and shoot growth compared to scheduled irrigation for the 24 May 1999 harvest date. Cyclic irrigation produced plants with shoot and total root weights >1× and tensiometer treatments for the September harvest date. Tensiometers sharply reduced irrigation requirements compared to scheduled irrigation volume by at least 50% of the 1× and 3× treatments weekly. Analysis of nutrients in leachate for June indicated increased B and Fe concentrations in the 3× irrigation treatment. Lower concentrations of Ca, Mg, and Na were measured in August. Lantana growth was acceptable for all irrigation treatments and harvest dates.

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D.M. Glenn and D.L. Peterson

An irrigation control valve that uses the suction developed in a tensiometer to start and stop the flow of water to the irrigation system without the need of electricity was constructed. When soil water suction reached –22 cbars at 25 cm, the valve opened and then closed at –18 cbars. Peach trees at 6 × 6 m (three trees per plot) or 4.9 × 3 m (five trees per plot) spacing were irrigated with either pulse microsprinkler or drip irrigation. Evapotranspiration (ET) was calculated from pan evaporation and adjusted for each plot, based on canopy diameter. Flow meters measured water use for each plot in a split plot design with six replications. In Sept. 1995, drip ET was 30%, and pulse ET was 200% of calculated ET for both plant spacings. Spatial variability in actual and calculated plot ET was >200%, and actual plot ET was highly correlated with calculated plot ET. Data for the 1996 field season will be presented. The results indicate that spatial variability in water use is high, and the tensiometer valve is effective and reliable in scheduling irrigation in a heterogeneous environment.

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S.M. Scheiber, Richard C. Beeson Jr, and Sudeep Vyapari

among sources. This combination of factors often results in overirrigation in residential and commercial landscapes. Soil moisture sensors are available that control irrigation as a function of available soil moisture. Tensiometer-regulated irrigation

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Timothy Coolong

relative to soil moisture sensors may have contributed to the greater water use in the SDI system. Dabach and Lazarovith (2015) reported that optimal placement for tensiometers for controlling high-frequency (pulsed) irrigation in a shallow (15-cm depth

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Virginia Thaxton, Ed Bush, Ann Gray, and Paul Wilson

Proper irrigation practices are important in the production of container-grown woody ornamentals. When choosing irrigation methods, nurserymen must attempt to maximize production and comply with public policies mandating decreased water usage and runoff. One of these methods schedules irrigation based on plant demand, using tensiometers to measure matric potential of the substrate. While tensiometers have been used successfully with agronomic crops in the field, their effectiveness in irrigation management of large container-grown woody ornamentals has not been extensively tested. The objective of this study was to determine the effect of four irrigation treatments (7 cb tensiometer setting, 14 cb tensiometer setting, 1 time a day application, 4 times a day application) on the production of the ornamental tree Bald Cypress over a 9-month period. Growth differed significantly among treatments. The highest growth index was observed in the 4 times a day and the 7 cb tensiometer treatments, followed by the 1 time a day and 14 cb treatments, respectively. Effluent and leachate (pH, EC, N, P, K) were also measured. Percent effluent volume was highly variable, with maximum volume occurring in June for the 7 cb setting (82%) and in October for the 1 time a day treatment (47%). Higher pH values (7.0 to 8.0) initially occurred in the timed irrigation treatments and higher EC values (2.0–6.0 mmhos) were found in tensiometer treatments; over time, differences among treatments decreased for both variables. Substrate concentrations of N, P and K varied significantly among treatments, while no significant differences were found in the leaf tissue analysis.

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Rafael Muñoz-Carpena, Yuncong C. Li, Waldemar Klassen, and Michael D. Dukes

A low-volume/high frequency (LVHF) soil moisture-based drip irrigation system was tested on a shallow sandy soil at a commercial tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum) farm in southern Florida. Six LVHF irrigation treatments were compared with the standard commercial practice on the farm (control), where a portable pump was used for manual drip irrigation twice each week. In the six LVHF treatments the system was continuously pressurized by means of an electrical pump and a pressure tank, and controlled by an irrigation timer set to irrigate a maximum of five times per day with the irrigation time (i.e., volume) set according to historical evapotranspiration (ET) demands in the area. Two treatments were based on timer schedules, one to supply 100% of the maximum recommended crop water needs in the area based on historical ET (ET-100%), and the other to supply 150% of those needs (ET-150%). The other four treatments were created by interfacing two types of soil moisture sensors (switching tensiometers and granular matrix sensors with control modules) set at two moisture points (wet = 10 kPa, optimal = 15 kPa) in a closed control loop with the irrigation timer programmed at the ET-100% schedule. Results showed that the six LVHF treatments reduced water use while not significantly affecting tomato yields. Switching tensiometers at the 15 kPa set point performed the best (up to 73% reduction in water use when compared to the control, 50% with respect to ET-100%). The results show that water use below historical ET levels can be obtained without sacrificing yield by keeping the root zone moisture at controlled levels with the soil-moisture based system. Routine maintenance was critical for reliable operation of the switching tensiometers. Granular matrix sensor based irrigation behaved erratically, and did not improve water savings compared to ET-100%, indicating that this system was not effective under the conditions of the area due to the sensor's slow response to frequent wetting-rewetting cycles and characteristics of the interface.