Usefulness of tensiometers for scheduling irrigation for tomatoes grown on rocky, calcareous soils in Southern Florida

Teresa Olczyk, Ruben Regalado, Yuncong Li, Ralph Jordan


In southern Florida, irrigation is a critical factor for winter vegetables grown on calcareous soils, characterized by very low nutrient and water holding capacity. Traditional approaches to irrigation are based on stage of the growth or on visual estimation of soil moisture. This often leads to under- or over-irrigation of the crop. Under-irrigation may reduce yield and quality, while over-irrigation may lead to the leaching of the nutrients from the root zone, contributing to ground water pollution. A demonstration with using tensiometers to schedule irrigation was conducted in a commercial field in Home stead area. The objective was to demonstrate the usefulness of tensiometers in such applications. The frequency of irrigation events and amount of applied water based on tensiometer readings were compared with the grower's irrigation schedule. Data collected included total number, weight and quality of fruit. The results showed that reduction of irrigation water did not decrease total and marketable yield and tensiometers with proper calibration; installation and maintenance can be suc cessfully used for scheduling irrigation.

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