A study was conducted to determine the effects of implementing different irrigation scheduling meth-ods on heterogeneous container hardy ornamental nursery stocks. Four ornamental shrub specieswere grown in the same irrigation sector during the summer of four consecutive years (2007–2010):Forsythia × intermedia, Photinia × fraseri, Prunus laurocerasus L. and Viburnum tinus L. Automated dripirrigation based on either substrate water status (SW) or calculated crop evapotranspiration (ET; MODEL)was compared with “typical” timer-controlled irrigation (TIMER). In TIMER treatment, containers wereirrigated based on grower management. In SW treatment, irrigation was controlled either by a water-filled tensiometer (2007) or by a dielectric soil moisture sensor (2008–2010) placed in one pot with aPrunus plant, the species with intermediate water need as found in preliminary work. In MODEL treat-ment, irrigation was controlled on the basis of the species with the greatest ET. Crop ET was calculatedmultiplying reference ET (ET0) by a species-specific crop coefficient (KC), which in turn was estimated fromplant height. In all treatments, pre-irrigation substrate water deficit was lower than the plant availablewater in the container. Compared with TIMER treatment, SW and MODEL irrigation scheduling reducedconsiderably both water use (-21% to -40%) and nutrient emission (-39% to -74%) with no significanteffect on plant growth and quality. Water saving resulted from a reduction of irrigation frequency andleaching fraction (water leached/water applied). Wireless sensor network technology and near/remotemonitoring techniques can facilitate the application of plant-driven irrigation scheduling in commercialnurseries, where generally hundreds of plant taxa are cultivated in many independent irrigation sectors.
- woody ornamentals
Incrocci, L., Marzialetti, P., Incrocci, G., Di Vita, A., Balendonck, J., Bibbiani, C., ... Pardossi, A. (2014). Substrate water status and evapotranspiration irrigation schedulingin heterogenous container nursery crops. Agricultural Water Management, 131, 30-40. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.agwat.2013.09.004