Getting more plant
per gallon
The Container System

Container

Nutrients
Irrigation
• Traditional
•
•
•

irrigation

Single application
• Maybe PM cool down
Volume – inches
When to apply - Timing...
Two things directed our
research focus to water
• Water

only means
everything to everything
•

•

T.E. Bilderback

Water-...
Water is the oil of the
•

st
21

century

United Nations predicted by 2020, water
and not oil will be a source of conflic...
Mark Twain said it best
• Whiskey

for drinking
• Water for fighting
Irrigation – Getting more plant
per gallon
Irrigation
•
•

Getting more plant per gallon
To increase water efficiency while
maintaining rate of growth
Irrigation
•

Increase water efficiency
•

Application efficiency
• How much of water applied stays in container?

•

Volu...
Substrates
•

2 Parts
•
•

Solids
Pores
•
•

aeration
water
Substrates
•

Re-wet substrate
•
•

Large pores (air)
Small pores (water)
Pathways of water through a container

Channel along edge

Follow large pores
Held in small pores
Water application efficiency
•

‘Pulse’ irrigation – applying water
to soil in a series of cycles
• El Modena Gardens (con...
Cyclic irrigation
Cyclic Irrigation
Cyclic irrigation and water
movement in containers
1st irrigation cycle

2nd irrigation cycle

3rd irrigation cycle
100

95

90

85

80

Daylight hrs
75

Container capacity (%)

Cyclic Water Application

70

22:00
20:00
18:00
15:00
13:00
...
Amendment
Clay
Sand
100

95

90

85

80

75

Container capacity (%)

Cyclic Water Application

70

00:00
18:00
12:00
06:00...
Water application efficiency
Substrate

% increase over
single application

3 PB : 1 P
8 PB : 1 S
8 PB : 1 S
8 PB : 1 S

3...
Cyclic Irrigation
•

Advantages
•

Need to apply less water
•
•

•

Decreased pump run time
Decrease leachate / Decrease r...
Irrigation volume
How much to apply?
Traditional: inches of water
Does that tell you if the
substrate is rehydrated?
Leaching Fraction, LF
Leaching Fraction = Volume Leached / Volume Applied

Lined or sealed

Sealed outside pot
Leaching Fraction (LF) =
(amt of water leached with plant / amt without plant)
Leaching Fraction
Leaching Fraction = Volume Leached / Volume
Applied rehydration = Leaching Fraction ~ 0.15 – 0.20
Maximi...
Plastic bags work for leaching fractions

Water Applied

Water Leached
Leaching fraction
•

Advantages
•
•

Based on plant need
Minimize water applied
•

•

Minimize pump run time

Disadvantage...
Less than uniform irrigation distribution?
Think Leaching Fraction
Group by:
Water needs
Container size
Substrate
Does the architecture of a plant’s
canopy affect water application?
Umbrella
Architecture
Vase Architecture
Canopy Capture
Percentage irrigation capture

Gardenia augusta
‘Chuck Hayes’

260
240
220
200
180
160
140
120
100
80
60

C...
900

Cotoneaster dammeri
‘Skogholm

800
700
600

Cotoneaster
Vitex

500
400
300

Vitex trifolia
‘Variegata’

200

105

99
...
Best Management Practices
•

Getting more plant per gallon
•
•

•

Cyclic application: 30%
Irrigation volume:
• 0.2 leachi...
Does time of
irrigation make a
difference?
Irrigation timing
•

What time of day to irrigate?
•

Irrigation timing
• Volume:
0.2 leaching fraction
• Timing:
0200, 0400, and 0600 HR (predawn)
0600, 0900, and 1200 HR (...
Dry weight of
Cotoneaster dammeri 'Skogholm'
predawn

Dry weight (g)

120

AM

100

PM

80

all day

60

c b a b

40
20

d...
Rainfall
60
Rainfall

Rainfall (mm)

50
40
30
20
10
0
0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

Weeks After Initiation

10 11 12 13 14
• Did

not believe it
• Repeated study
Rainfall
90

Rainfall (mm)

80
70
60

Rainfall

50
40
30
20
10
0
0

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

Weeks After Initiation

10 ...
Dry weight of
Cotoneaster dammeri 'Skogholm'
predawn

Dry weight (g)

120

AM

100

PM

80

all day

60

c b a b

40
20

d...
Photosynthesis
9

predawn
AM

Photosynthesis

7.5

PM
6

all day

4.5
3
1.5
0
11:00 AM

1:30 PM

4:00 PM
System wt. at container capacity (%)

Automated Control
100

95

90

85

2400

AM 0.2 LF
PM 0.2 LF
PM Replacement
On-deman...
System wt. at container capacity (%)

Automated Control
100

95

90

85

2400

AM 0.2 LF
PM 0.2 LF
PM Replacement
On-deman...
20
:0
0
2:
00
8:
00
14
:0
0
20
:0
0
2:
00
8:
0
14 0
:0
20 0
:0
0
2:
00
8:
00
14
:0
20 0
:0
0
2:
00
8:
00
14
:0
20 0
:0
0
2...
50

pre-dawn
all day
pm

45
40
35
30
25

Aug 26

6

3

0

21

18

15

12

9

6

3

20

0

Substrate Temperature (C)

Irrig...
Irrigation timing
•

Advantages
•
•

•

Increases plant growth
Regulate substrate temperature

Disadvantages
•
•
•

Automa...
Irrigation Decisions
•

To minimize water use & maintain growth
• Cyclic irrigation
• Increase application efficiency- 30%...
Irrigation Decisions
•

Timing
•
•
•

PM-getting more plant per gallon
• Bigger plant uses more water
Pre-dawn uses less w...
Thank you
Water application
efficiency
100

95

90

85

80

75

Container capacity (%)

Monitoring Water Use

70

22:00
20:00
18:00
15:00
13:00
10:00
08:00
06:00...
100

95

90

85

80

75

Container capacity (%)

Monitoring Water Use

70

22:00
20:00
18:00
15:00
13:00
10:00
08:00
06:00...
100

95

90

85

80

Daylight hrs
75

Container capacity (%)

Monitoring Water Use

70

22:00
20:00
18:00
15:00
13:00
10:0...
Amendment
Clay
Sand
100

95

90

85

80

75

Container capacity (%)

Monitoring Water Use

70

00:00
18:00
12:00
06:00
00:...
50

6:00

pre-dawn
all day
pm

45
3:00

40

12:00

35
Pre-Dawn

30
25

Aug 26

6

3

0

21

18

15

12

9

6

3

20

0

Su...
50

pre-dawn
all day
pm

45
40

9:00 PM

35

3:00 AM

30
25

Aug 26

6

3

0

21

18

15

12

9

6

3

20

0

Substrate Te...
100

95

90

85

80

75

Container capacity (%)

Cyclic Water Application

70

22:00
20:00
18:00
15:00
13:00
10:00
08:00
0...
100

95

90

85

80

75

Container capacity (%)

Cyclic Water Application

70

22:00
20:00
18:00
15:00
13:00
10:00
08:00
0...
100

95

90

85

80

75

Container capacity (%)

Cyclic Water Application

70

22:00
20:00
18:00
15:00
13:00
10:00
08:00
0...
Substrates
•

Re-wet substrate
•
•

Large pores (air)
Small pores (water)
Leaching fraction
Cumalative water applied (gal)

30
25
20

Days after
initiation
35
75
115

7 gal per
container

15
10
5
...
Leaching fraction
Cumalative water applied (gal)

30
25
20
15

Days after
initiation
7 gal per
35
90,000 gallons of water
...
Getting More Plant Per Gallon
Getting More Plant Per Gallon
Getting More Plant Per Gallon
Getting More Plant Per Gallon
Getting More Plant Per Gallon
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Getting More Plant Per Gallon

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NurseryWorks 2013
(video: http://NurseryWorks.weebly.com/2013-content-archive.html)

Dr. Stuart Warren, Professor and Department Head, HFRR, Kansas State University
Water restrictions are getting tighter and tighter, making it difficult to continue growing crops the way we have in the past. Dr. Stu will share research-based methods for managing water in the container nursery to help improve efficiency and reduce plant stress.

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Getting More Plant Per Gallon

  1. 1. Getting more plant per gallon
  2. 2. The Container System Container Nutrients
  3. 3. Irrigation • Traditional • • • irrigation Single application • Maybe PM cool down Volume – inches When to apply - Timing • Pre-dawn/early morning Limit interference with crew • Minimum wind • Minimize loss to evaporation •
  4. 4. Two things directed our research focus to water • Water only means everything to everything • • T.E. Bilderback Water- oil of the st 21 Century
  5. 5. Water is the oil of the • st 21 century United Nations predicted by 2020, water and not oil will be a source of conflicts in the world American Farm Bureau Federation in Water Resources Could Be The Next Energy Crisis By Stewart Truelsen http://www.fb.org/views/focus/index.html
  6. 6. Mark Twain said it best • Whiskey for drinking • Water for fighting
  7. 7. Irrigation – Getting more plant per gallon
  8. 8. Irrigation • • Getting more plant per gallon To increase water efficiency while maintaining rate of growth
  9. 9. Irrigation • Increase water efficiency • Application efficiency • How much of water applied stays in container? • Volume • • Timing of irrigation • • How much does it take to rewet substrate? Does timing make a difference? Plant canopy architecture
  10. 10. Substrates • 2 Parts • • Solids Pores • • aeration water
  11. 11. Substrates • Re-wet substrate • • Large pores (air) Small pores (water)
  12. 12. Pathways of water through a container Channel along edge Follow large pores Held in small pores
  13. 13. Water application efficiency • ‘Pulse’ irrigation – applying water to soil in a series of cycles • El Modena Gardens (containers) increased water retention by 30% (Whitesides, 1989)
  14. 14. Cyclic irrigation
  15. 15. Cyclic Irrigation
  16. 16. Cyclic irrigation and water movement in containers 1st irrigation cycle 2nd irrigation cycle 3rd irrigation cycle
  17. 17. 100 95 90 85 80 Daylight hrs 75 Container capacity (%) Cyclic Water Application 70 22:00 20:00 18:00 15:00 13:00 10:00 08:00 06:00 03:00 01:00 22:00 20:00 18:00 Time
  18. 18. Amendment Clay Sand 100 95 90 85 80 75 Container capacity (%) Cyclic Water Application 70 00:00 18:00 12:00 06:00 00:00 18:00 12:00 06:00 00:00 18:00 12:00 06:00 00:00 18:00 12:00 06:00 00:00 18:00 12:00 06:00 00:00 18:00 12:00 06:00 00:00 Time and date Aug 28 Aug 27 Aug 26 Aug 25 Aug 24 Aug 23
  19. 19. Water application efficiency Substrate % increase over single application 3 PB : 1 P 8 PB : 1 S 8 PB : 1 S 8 PB : 1 S 34% 27% 27% 38% Average 32% (Fare et al., 1994) (Groves et al., 1998) (Ruter, 1998) (Tyler et al., 1996)
  20. 20. Cyclic Irrigation • Advantages • Need to apply less water • • • Decreased pump run time Decrease leachate / Decrease runoff Disadvantages Typically requires automated irrigation • Management •
  21. 21. Irrigation volume How much to apply? Traditional: inches of water Does that tell you if the substrate is rehydrated?
  22. 22. Leaching Fraction, LF Leaching Fraction = Volume Leached / Volume Applied Lined or sealed Sealed outside pot
  23. 23. Leaching Fraction (LF) = (amt of water leached with plant / amt without plant)
  24. 24. Leaching Fraction Leaching Fraction = Volume Leached / Volume Applied rehydration = Leaching Fraction ~ 0.15 – 0.20 Maximize Total Water Applied for container diameter area is measured as “total volume” to calculate leaching fraction
  25. 25. Plastic bags work for leaching fractions Water Applied Water Leached
  26. 26. Leaching fraction • Advantages • • Based on plant need Minimize water applied • • Minimize pump run time Disadvantages • Management time
  27. 27. Less than uniform irrigation distribution? Think Leaching Fraction
  28. 28. Group by: Water needs Container size Substrate
  29. 29. Does the architecture of a plant’s canopy affect water application?
  30. 30. Umbrella Architecture
  31. 31. Vase Architecture
  32. 32. Canopy Capture Percentage irrigation capture Gardenia augusta ‘Chuck Hayes’ 260 240 220 200 180 160 140 120 100 80 60 Cotoneaster Gardenia Cotoneaster dammeri ‘Skogholm 33 50 72 92 105 Days Williamson et al. 2005. SNA
  33. 33. 900 Cotoneaster dammeri ‘Skogholm 800 700 600 Cotoneaster Vitex 500 400 300 Vitex trifolia ‘Variegata’ 200 105 99 92 82 73 66 54 49 47 40 32 0 29 100 22 Daily volume applied (ml) Irrigation volume to maintain 0.2 LF Days After Initiation Williamson et al. 2005. SNA
  34. 34. Best Management Practices • Getting more plant per gallon • • • Cyclic application: 30% Irrigation volume: • 0.2 leaching fraction • Minimize water and pump run time Irrigation timing • predawn to early morning
  35. 35. Does time of irrigation make a difference?
  36. 36. Irrigation timing • What time of day to irrigate?
  37. 37. • Irrigation timing • Volume: 0.2 leaching fraction • Timing: 0200, 0400, and 0600 HR (predawn) 0600, 0900, and 1200 HR (AM) 1200, 1500, and 1800 HR (PM) 0600, 1200, and 1800 HR (all day)
  38. 38. Dry weight of Cotoneaster dammeri 'Skogholm' predawn Dry weight (g) 120 AM 100 PM 80 all day 60 c b a b 40 20 d c a b b a a a 0 Top (g) Root (g) Total Dry Weight (g)
  39. 39. Rainfall 60 Rainfall Rainfall (mm) 50 40 30 20 10 0 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Weeks After Initiation 10 11 12 13 14
  40. 40. • Did not believe it • Repeated study
  41. 41. Rainfall 90 Rainfall (mm) 80 70 60 Rainfall 50 40 30 20 10 0 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Weeks After Initiation 10 11 12 13 14
  42. 42. Dry weight of Cotoneaster dammeri 'Skogholm' predawn Dry weight (g) 120 AM 100 PM 80 all day 60 c b a b 40 20 d c a b b a a a 0 Top (g) Root (g) Total Dry Weight (g)
  43. 43. Photosynthesis 9 predawn AM Photosynthesis 7.5 PM 6 all day 4.5 3 1.5 0 11:00 AM 1:30 PM 4:00 PM
  44. 44. System wt. at container capacity (%) Automated Control 100 95 90 85 2400 AM 0.2 LF PM 0.2 LF PM Replacement On-demand 0400 0800 1200 Time (24 HR) 1600 2000 2400
  45. 45. System wt. at container capacity (%) Automated Control 100 95 90 85 2400 AM 0.2 LF PM 0.2 LF PM Replacement On-demand 0400 0800 1200 Time (24 HR) 1600 2000 2400
  46. 46. 20 :0 0 2: 00 8: 00 14 :0 0 20 :0 0 2: 00 8: 0 14 0 :0 20 0 :0 0 2: 00 8: 00 14 :0 20 0 :0 0 2: 00 8: 00 14 :0 20 0 :0 0 2: 00 8: 00 14 :0 20 0 :0 0 Percent weight at CC Monitoring Water Use 100% Clay-AM Clay-PM 95% 90% 85% 80% Aug 24 Aug 25 Aug 26 Date and time Aug 27 Aug 28
  47. 47. 50 pre-dawn all day pm 45 40 35 30 25 Aug 26 6 3 0 21 18 15 12 9 6 3 20 0 Substrate Temperature (C) Irrigation timing - overhead Aug 27 Williamson et al. 2005. SNA
  48. 48. Irrigation timing • Advantages • • • Increases plant growth Regulate substrate temperature Disadvantages • • • Automated Controllers & Valves Interfere with workers Management
  49. 49. Irrigation Decisions • To minimize water use & maintain growth • Cyclic irrigation • Increase application efficiency- 30% • Volume • • Leaching fraction – minimizes water usage • 0.1 to 0.2 Timing • • PM-getting more plant per gallon Bigger plant uses more water
  50. 50. Irrigation Decisions • Timing • • • PM-getting more plant per gallon • Bigger plant uses more water Pre-dawn uses less water To minimize water use • Use Pre-dawn
  51. 51. Thank you
  52. 52. Water application efficiency
  53. 53. 100 95 90 85 80 75 Container capacity (%) Monitoring Water Use 70 22:00 20:00 18:00 15:00 13:00 10:00 08:00 06:00 03:00 01:00 22:00 20:00 18:00 Time
  54. 54. 100 95 90 85 80 75 Container capacity (%) Monitoring Water Use 70 22:00 20:00 18:00 15:00 13:00 10:00 08:00 06:00 03:00 01:00 22:00 20:00 18:00 Time
  55. 55. 100 95 90 85 80 Daylight hrs 75 Container capacity (%) Monitoring Water Use 70 22:00 20:00 18:00 15:00 13:00 10:00 08:00 06:00 03:00 01:00 22:00 20:00 18:00 Time
  56. 56. Amendment Clay Sand 100 95 90 85 80 75 Container capacity (%) Monitoring Water Use 70 00:00 18:00 12:00 06:00 00:00 18:00 12:00 06:00 00:00 18:00 12:00 06:00 00:00 18:00 12:00 06:00 00:00 18:00 12:00 06:00 00:00 18:00 12:00 06:00 00:00 Time and date Aug 28 Aug 27 Aug 26 Aug 25 Aug 24 Aug 23
  57. 57. 50 6:00 pre-dawn all day pm 45 3:00 40 12:00 35 Pre-Dawn 30 25 Aug 26 6 3 0 21 18 15 12 9 6 3 20 0 Substrate Temperature (C) Irrigation timing - overhead Aug 27 Williamson et al. 2005. SNA
  58. 58. 50 pre-dawn all day pm 45 40 9:00 PM 35 3:00 AM 30 25 Aug 26 6 3 0 21 18 15 12 9 6 3 20 0 Substrate Temperature (C) Irrigation timing - overhead Aug 27 Williamson et al. 2005. SNA
  59. 59. 100 95 90 85 80 75 Container capacity (%) Cyclic Water Application 70 22:00 20:00 18:00 15:00 13:00 10:00 08:00 06:00 03:00 01:00 22:00 20:00 18:00 Time
  60. 60. 100 95 90 85 80 75 Container capacity (%) Cyclic Water Application 70 22:00 20:00 18:00 15:00 13:00 10:00 08:00 06:00 03:00 01:00 22:00 20:00 18:00 Time
  61. 61. 100 95 90 85 80 75 Container capacity (%) Cyclic Water Application 70 22:00 20:00 18:00 15:00 13:00 10:00 08:00 06:00 03:00 01:00 22:00 20:00 18:00 Time
  62. 62. Substrates • Re-wet substrate • • Large pores (air) Small pores (water)
  63. 63. Leaching fraction Cumalative water applied (gal) 30 25 20 Days after initiation 35 75 115 7 gal per container 15 10 5 0 0.1 0.2 Leaching fraction (leached / applied) Owen. 2006
  64. 64. Leaching fraction Cumalative water applied (gal) 30 25 20 15 Days after initiation 7 gal per 35 90,000 gallons of water 75 container 115 saved per growing acre while maintaining growth 10 5 0 0.1 0.2 Leaching fraction (leached / applied) Owen. 2006

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