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Horticulturae 2017, 3(1), 6; doi:10.3390/horticulturae3010006

Hydraulic Performance of Horticultural Substrates—2. Development of an Evaluation Framework

Leibniz Centre for Agricultural Landscape Research (ZALF), Institute of Landscape Hydrology, Eberswalder St. 84, Muencheberg 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: 5 July 2016 / Published: 30 December 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Quality Management of Organic Horticultural Produce)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [197 KB, uploaded 30 December 2016]

Abstract

Sustainable, environmentally friendly and resource-saving water and nutrient management in horticulture requires knowledge of the hydraulic suitability of horticultural substrates for each specific application. The aim of this study was to develop methods and a rating framework to assess the hydraulic performance of horticultural substrates. The hydraulic criteria related to high-quality horticultural substrates were defined as the amount of easily plant-available water (EAW) in the tension range between 10 and 100 hPa, the air capacity and the height of capillary rise. Limiting factors could be water repellency effects and shrinkage. The rating framework consisted of 5 classes between non-satisfactory and very good. The assessment of the hydraulic performance was split for the cultivation into 10-, 20-, and 30-cm-high containers. It was tested on 18 commercial substrates. More than 70% of the tested substrates revealed scores between very good and good. About 30% were evaluated as medium or satisfactory. The most critical aspect was the low air capacity in shallow containers. Shrinkage and water repellency sometimes strongly diminished the score. Both the measurement methods for quantifying substrate hydraulic properties and the evaluation procedure proved applicable. The impact of different ingredients and the composition of substrates of their hydraulic performance should be statistically analysed in further studies. View Full-Text
Keywords: horticultural substrates; hydraulic properties; water retention curve; unsaturated hydraulic conductivity; water repellency; water drop penetration time; shrinkage; extended evaporation method (EEM); HYPROP horticultural substrates; hydraulic properties; water retention curve; unsaturated hydraulic conductivity; water repellency; water drop penetration time; shrinkage; extended evaporation method (EEM); HYPROP
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. Hydraulic Performance of Horticultural Substrates—2. Development of an Evaluation Framework. Horticulturae 2017, 3, 6.

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