Water Issues: Irrigation

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The Effects of Drip Irrigation Methods on Plasticulture Tomato Yield and Quality in South-Central Kentucky : 

The Effects of Drip Irrigation Methods on Plasticulture Tomato Yield and Quality in South-Central Kentucky - Disabilities accommodated with prior notification Educational programs of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, or national origin. Dr. Tim Coolong – University of Kentucky Department of Horticulture Dr. Martin Stone – Western Kentucky University Department of Agriculture

Role of Water in Tomato Production : 

Role of Water in Tomato Production Production Cost - 1/3 Limited natural resource ‘How Much to Apply’? Just enough to be productive Not a drop extra General Guidelines exist but dependent on Local conditions Seasonal variation

Experimental Details : 

Experimental Details Conducted at WKU farm Bowling Green, Ky. Summer 2010 -2011 Plasticulture Black Drip irrigation Fertigation Staked ‘Mountain Fresh Plus’

Experimental Design : 

Experimental Design Randomized Complete Block 4 replications 4 treatments Statistical Analysis – SAS p < 0.05 Means separated by Duncan’s MRT if sig. F test

Treatments : 

Treatments ID 36 – University of Kentucky Recommendation Acre Inch per Week ½ ID 36 Water Balance Method Pan Evaporation at Nolin Lake Dam, ACOE Crop Coefficient, Source: Tekinel and Çevik (1993) Computed Water needs Weekly = Water Balance Method

How Much to Apply? : 

How Much to Apply? UK recommendation for tomatoes ID 36 Extension Publication May overestimate water demands Original source of information unknown Farmers apply 1 acre inch water/week Standard crop recommendation Based on ‘Farmer Knowledge’

Water Balance Method : 

Water Balance Method Most efficient method based on Stage of crop growth Transplant vs. fruiting Environmental conditions Drives demand for water

Water Balance Method : 

Water Balance Method Pan Evaporation Data Affect plant Transpiration Temperature, humidity, solar radiation and wind Crop Coefficient Crop specific Model of Water use through crop growth stages Based on actual data Determine weekly tomato water usage

Crop Coefficient Model : 

Crop Coefficient Model Tekinel and Çevik (1993)

Actual Crop Coefficients and Pan Evaporation : 

Actual Crop Coefficients and Pan Evaporation

Hypothesis : 

Hypothesis Standard recommendations overestimate water needs of tomatoes Over/under estimate needs through season Reduction of water usage will not reduce yield and quality

Water Manipulation : 

Water Manipulation Checked measured by water meters on each treatment Metered by gallon Three treatments were altered weekly for water supply ID 36 ½ ID 36 Water Balance Method Confirmation by meters and tensiometers

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Tensiometers : 

Tensiometers Detect soil water potential related to soil water content “dummy root” Used to confirm accuracy of water applied Readings 0–10: Saturated soil Readings 70 and higher: Stress range Each treatment Opposite drip irrigation lines ½ way between plants 30 cm deep Read weekly

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Wetter Stress Range

Harvest : 

Harvest Weekly for 7 weeks - (7/12) ‘Breaker’ stage = harvest Sorted by USDA grades Quality Marketable – Unmarketable (Cull) Size Small, medium, large, extra large Weighed - (lbs) Noted radial cracks

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Table 1. The effects of four irrigation treatments on marketable yield and yields of small, medium, large, and extra-large fruit as well as percent of culls of Mt. Fresh Plus tomatoes grown in Bowling Green, Ky., in 2010. Treatments are ordered based on marketable yield (highest to lowest).1

Conclusion : 

Conclusion Based upon one years data we can produce as many quality marketable tomatoes with less irrigation ½ the high recommended volume irrigation significantly influences yield data suggest that water distribution may play just as important role as volume Ex: Treatments of Acre Inch Week and Water Balance Method

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