Introducing a multi-cavity collection method for extracting plug root-zone solutions

Y. Huang, J. Chen, C. A. Robinson, R. D. Caldwell


Monitoring soluble salts and pH of plug media has been a challenge for ornamental plant producers because of the limited volume of plug/cell media available for typical saturated media extract (SME) or 1:2 sampling, and the multi-cavity unit designs are not favorable for the standard water pour through method. Recently, a press extraction method (pressing the top of the plug to expel solution, PEM) was developed; however, the method is invasive because the necessary pressing can cause irreparable damage to the plants. In this study, a modified pour-through method, multi-cavity collection (MCC), was developed for root-zone solution extractions from plugs without plant damage. The MCC method requires the placement of a clean, accommodating, non-permeable tray beneath the multi cavity unit. The root-zone solution is collected by slowly and evenly pouring water onto the surfaces of the individual/joined cavities. Soluble salts and pH of bulk solutions extracted from different plug media using the MCC, PEM, SME, and 1:2 methods were compared. Results showed that the soluble salts and pH readings of root-zone solutions extracted by the MCC method were proportional to those readings from solutions extracted by the other three methods. The availability of another extraction option further maximizes the speed and convenience of monitoring media soluble salts and pH without plant loss.

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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283