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Horticulturae 2017, 3(1), 5; doi:10.3390/horticulturae3010005

Hydraulic Performance of Horticultural Substrates—1. Method for Measuring the Hydraulic Quality Indicators

Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), Institute of Landscape Hydrology, Eberswalder St. 84, Müncheberg D15374, Germany
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Academic Editors: Varit Srilaong, Mantana Buanong, Chalermchai Wongs-Aree, Sirichai Kanlayanarat and Douglas D. Archbold
Received: 2 December 2015 / Revised: 26 April 2016 / Accepted: 3 June 2016 / Published: 30 December 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Quality Management of Organic Horticultural Produce)
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Abstract

Besides nutrient composition, the hydraulic performance of horticultural substrates is a main issue for evaluating their quality for horticultural purposes. Their water and air capacity and their suitability for transporting water are important hydraulic quality indicators. Shrinkage and water repellency could have a negative impact on storing and transporting water and solutes. The commonly used methods and devices for quantifying the water retention properties of horticultural substrates (sand box, pressure plate extractor) are outdated. The measurements are time-consuming, the devices are expensive, and the results are affected by uncertainties. Here, the suitability of the extended evaporation method (EEM) and an associated HYPROP (HYdraulic PROPerty analyser, device was successfully tested for very loosely-bedded horticultural substrates. EEM and HYPROP enabled the simultaneous and effective measurement of the water retention curve and the unsaturated hydraulic functions. The measurement time of horticultural substrates ranges between 7 and 10 days. Furthermore, the shrinkage properties and the water rewetting time can be measured with the HYPROP system. Results using 18 horticultural substrates are presented. These results are discussed and compared with natural organic and mineral soils showing the specific hydraulic performance of substrates for horticultural applications. View Full-Text
Keywords: horticultural substrates; growing media; hydraulic properties; water retention curve; unsaturated hydraulic conductivity; water repellency; water drop penetration time; shrinkage; extended evaporation method (EEM); HYPROP horticultural substrates; growing media; hydraulic properties; water retention curve; unsaturated hydraulic conductivity; water repellency; water drop penetration time; shrinkage; extended evaporation method (EEM); HYPROP
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Schindler, U.; Müller, L.; Eulenstein, F. Hydraulic Performance of Horticultural Substrates—1. Method for Measuring the Hydraulic Quality Indicators. Horticulturae 2017, 3, 5.

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