Irrigation Research

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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 1 Nathan N Howell

Role of Water in Tomato Production : 

Role of Water in Tomato Production Production Cost - 1/3 Limited natural resource – 97% salt water 3% fresh of which 1% usable ‘How Much to Apply’? Just enough to be productive Not a drop extra General Guidelines exist But are not location nor crop specific Little data in KY to support 1/4/2012 2 Partially Funded By: KY Hort Council Grant From the Agricutural Development Fund

Experimental Details : 

Experimental Details Conducted at WKU farm Bowling Green, Ky. Summer 2010 (drought) Summer 2011 (periods of heavy rain) Plasticulture Black Drip irrigation Fertigation Staked ID-36 spray program ‘Mountain Fresh Plus’ 1/4/2012 3 Partially Funded By: KY Hort Council Grant From the Agricutural Development Fund

Experimental Design : 

Experimental Design Randomized Complete Block 4 treatments 4 replications Statistical Analysis – SAS p < 0.05 Means separated by Duncan’s MRT if sig. F test 1/4/2012 4 Partially Funded By: KY Hort Council Grant From the Agricutural Development Fund

Experimental Design : 

Experimental Design

Treatments : 

Treatments ID 36 – University of Kentucky Recommendation Acre Inch per Week - (not overhead) 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 1/4/2012 6 Partially Funded By: KY Hort Council Grant From the Agricutural Development Fund

How Much to Apply? : 

How Much to Apply? UK recommendation for tomatoes 230,300 gallons /12 week ID 36 Extension Publication May overestimate water demands Original source of information unknown 1/4/2012 7 Partially Funded By: KY Hort Council Grant From the Agricutural Development Fund

How Much to Apply? : 

How Much to Apply? Acre inch per week – rule of thumb used by many horticulture crops Overhead - 27,154.285 gallons Plasticulture – 13,577 gallons on trickle/drip irrigation A total of 162,924 gallons over a 12 week growing period

Water Balance Method168,119 gallons per 12 weeks : 

Water Balance Method168,119 gallons per 12 weeks Most efficient method based on Stage of crop growth Transplant vs. fruiting Environmental conditions Drives demand for water Soil water-holding capacity Running a checkbook balance 1/4/2012 9 Partially Funded By: KY Hort Council Grant From the Agricutural Development Fund

Water Balance Method : 

Water Balance Method Pan Evaporation Data (weekly avg) Reflects 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 1/4/2012 10 Partially Funded By: KY Hort Council Grant From the Agricutural Development Fund

Crop Coefficient Model : 

Crop Coefficient Model Tekinel and Çevik (1993) 1/4/2012 11 Partially Funded By: KY Hort Council Grant From the Agricutural Development Fund

Actual Crop Coefficients and Pan Evaporation : 

Actual Crop Coefficients and Pan Evaporation 1/4/2012 Partially Funded By: KY Hort Council Grant From the Agricutural Development Fund 12

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 1/4/2012 13 Partially Funded By: KY Hort Council Grant From the Agricutural Development Fund

Irrigation Manipulation : 

Irrigation Manipulation Checked measured by water meters on each treatment Metered by gallon Run times never exceeded soil water holding capacity crider silt loam with water capacity of 2-2.5 Three treatments were altered weekly for water supply ID 36 230,300 ½ ID 36 115,150 Water Balance Method 168,119 Confirmation by meters and tensiometers 1/4/2012 14 Partially Funded By: KY Hort Council Grant From the Agricutural Development Fund

Slide 15: 

over over under 1/4/2012 15 Partially Funded By: KY Hort Council Grant From the Agricutural Development Fund

Slide 16: 

1/4/2012 16 Partially Funded By: KY Hort Council Grant From the Agricutural Development Fund 73% 100% 68% 58%

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 1/4/2012 17 Partially Funded By: KY Hort Council Grant From the Agricutural Development Fund

Slide 18: 

Wetter Stress Range 1/4/2012 18 Partially Funded By: KY Hort Council Grant From the Agricutural Development Fund

Harvest : 

Harvest Weekly for 7 weeks - (7/12) 2010 – (8/11) 2011 ‘Breaker’ stage = harvest Sorted by USDA grades Quality Marketable – Unmarketable (Cull) Size Small, medium, large, extra large Weighed - (lbs) Noted radial cracks 1/4/2012 19 Partially Funded By: KY Hort Council Grant From the Agricutural Development Fund

Slide 20: 

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 1/4/2012 20 Partially Funded By: KY Hort Council Grant From the Agricutural Development Fund

Table 2. 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 2011. Treatments are ordered based on marketable yield (highest to lowest).1 : 

Table 2. 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 2011. Treatments are ordered based on marketable yield (highest to lowest).1

Slide 22: 

over over under 1/4/2012 22 Partially Funded By: KY Hort Council Grant From the Agricutural Development Fund 100% 56% 70% 73%

Conclusion : 

Conclusion Based upon two years data we can produce as many quality marketable tomatoes with less irrigation ½ the high recommended volume irrigation significantly influences yield during a drought year and no significance in a wet year data suggest that water distribution may play just as important role as volume and future studies may be needed an acre inch per week is no different than the highest volume used in a drought or a wet season; however was significantly higher yields than lower volumes of water during a drought 1/4/2012 23 Partially Funded By: KY Hort Council Grant From the Agricutural Development Fund

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