Defining Critical Capillary Rise Properties for Growing Media in Nurseries
- J. Caron *a,
- D. E. Elrickb,
- R. Beesonc and
- J. Boudreaud
- a Département des Sols et Génie Agroalimentaire, Centre de Recherche en Horticulture, Université Laval, Sainte-Foy, Québec, Canada, G1K 7P4
b Land Resource Science Department, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada N1G 2W1
c Assoc. Professor, Mid Florida Research and Education Center, IFAS, University of Florida, Apopka, FL 32703
d Hortau inc, 840 Ste-Thérèse, Suite 300, Québec, Canada G1N 1S7
Water availability for landscape nursery irrigation is foreseen as a major impediment for this industry within the next decade. Among various solutions proposed to increase irrigation efficiency, thereby reducing the water volumes required, are closed and semi-closed subirrigation systems designed to grow plants potted in organic growing media. These systems, however, require organic substrates that have good capillary properties. However, standards for such capillary properties are not available. This study compared substrates composed of peat, bark, and sand having contrasting capillary properties, in a nursery experiment to establish guideline values for the proper and efficient operation on capillary mat devices. It also proposes a theoretical model of capillary rise using the hydraulic characteristics of growing media to predict the suitability of various substrates. Substrates with 60% (per volume) sphagnum peat were found to provide the best capillary rise and best growth, based on empirical measurements, relative to substrates with 30% sphagnum or 30% sedge peat. The proposed theoretical model concurred with these observations.Please view the pdf by using the Full Text (PDF) link under 'View' to the left.
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