Current issue: 54(2)
The matric potential and unsaturated hydraulic conductivity of peat-based growth media in containers was measured continuously as a function of drying. The particle size distribution and the water retention characteristics of the media were determined from parallel samples. The growth media used were a light, coarse graded Sphagnum peat, a medium graded Sphagnum peat and a mixture of a perlite and the medium graded Sphagnum peat. Containers of two types were packed with the media and allowed to evaporate from saturation. Matric potential was measured automatically using tensiometers during drying.
In both container types, the matric potential of the media was similar down to 10 kPa at each of the three levels measured during drying. Further drying resulted in a large matric potential gradient between the upper and the middle levels. During drying, there was also clear shrinkage of the media. When the matric potential at the upper level reached ca. -80 kPa, the decrease in height of the media was 5–23 %. The estimated hydraulic conductivity of the media during drying was rather similar. The hydraulic conductivity of the peat-perlite mixture was, however, slightly lower than that of the pure peat media. The hydraulic conductivity decreased linearly on a log-log-scale from ca. 10-5 to less than 10-10 m/s as the matric potential decreased from -3 to -60 kPa. The hydraulic conductivity of the media was comparable to coarse sand at matric potentials below -10 kPa. The decrease in hydraulic conductivity during drying and the possible weakening of soil-root contact due to shrinkage may considerably affect the availability of water to plants.
The PDF includes an abstract in Finnish.
A measurement system developed for the parallel and real-time measurement of temperature, matric potential and oxygen diffusion rate (ODR) of a growth medium was assessed. The system consisted of a portable computer, a datalogger, temperature sensors, tensiometers and an ODR-meter with Pt-sensors.
For the measurements, proper sensor contact with the growth medium was needed. For matric potential measurement, appropriate shape and material of the tensiometer tips should be selected for different measurement purposes. The determination of oxygen diffusion rate is based on single, non-continuous measurements. The ODR-measurement required special care with the insertion and handling of the electrodes and selection of applied voltage. The ODR-measurement of a coarse peat medium was applicable only at matric potentials > -5 kPa. This measurement system was shown to be useful and suitable for accurate determination of thermal-, water- and aeration conditions of a growth medium under greenhouse conditions.
The PDF includes an abstract in Finnish.
The matrix potential, measured with tensiometers, and its effect on the soil air-water ratio were examined during the production of bare-rooted Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) seedlings in nursery fields. Soil water potential was monitored during the growing season of 1983 at three nurseries in Finland, and from fields growing various seedling types at depths of 10 and 20 cm. In 1986, soil core samples were collected in order to assess the water desorption characteristics of the soil. In addition, the effect of polypropylene gauze covering (Agryl P 17) on the soil water potential was examined during the growing season of 1985 at two nurseries in Finland at depths of 5, 10 and 15 cm.
The soil water potential was relatively high in all the fields studied. In fields growing one- and two-year-old seedlings, the median potential was higher than -10 kPa. The potential did not fall below the limit of the measured scale (ca. -85 kPa) of the tensiometers. Soil aeriation may have been periodically insufficient in the rooting zone, as a result of high water content. The favourable water potential is below -5 to – 6 kPa. The gauze covering slightly (1–4 kPa) increased the soil water potential, an effect which could be harmful if the soil air space is low. During the second growing season, the soil water potential was lower in the fields covered by the gauze during the first year than in the fields without the covering.
The PDF includes an abstract in English.