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ISHS Acta Horticulturae 6: Symposium on Plant Environment in Glasshouses

CAPILLARY WATERING OF PLANTS IN POTS AND IN BEDS

Author:   D.A. WELLS
Abstract:
Watering by capillary action provides a simple means of automatically supplying the water requirements of tomato and other plants grown in pots and in beds.

This method has been found to be very satisfactory for use in the propagation of tomato plants for experimental purposes. Slatted benches have been constructed which provide uniform watering together with the temperature benefits of an open structure. Because of the free availability of water, highly uniform growth, unchecked by water stress, results. A further advantage of experimental value is that the treatment is definable and reproducible.

Nutrients can be added to the water supply provided the solution is made to flow through the bench so preventing concentration gradients occurring across it. The control of this method of feeding can be simplified by using nylon/stainless steel resistance blocks to estimate the concentration of dissolved nutrients in the soil solution.

The suitability of capillary watering for tomato plants growing in raised beds is being investigated in a current experiment. It appears that a satisfactory crop can be obtained under capillary watering conditions, using only a very small quantity of soil, and the effect of volumes of from 0.24 to 0.56.cu.ft/plants is being determined. In addition to the economy in steam sterilizing only a small amount of soil, the isolation of the beds prevents infection from any disease present in the border soil.

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