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  Eur.J.Hortic.Sci. 80 (6) 271-279 | DOI: 10.17660/eJHS.2015/80.6.2
ISSN 1611-4426 print and 1611-4434 online | © ISHS 2015 | European Journal of Horticultural Science | Original article

Development of a real-time irrigation control system considering transpiration, substrate electrical conductivity, and drainage rate of nutrient solutions in soilless culture of paprika (Capsicum annuum L.)

J.H. Shin1 and J.E. Son2
1Department of Horticulture and Breeding, Andong National University, Andong, Korea
2Department of Plant Science and Research Institute of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea

As paprika plants (Capsicum annuum L.) change their growth state from vegetative to reproductive even in response to water stress, an appropriate management of irrigation for the plant growth is essential. A finely-controlled system for continuously measuring the transpiration amount and root-zone environment was required. The objectives of this study were to develop an irrigation control system for accurate monitoring of water consumption by the plants, control the root-zone environment conditions such as drainage rate and electrical conductivity (EC) in substrate, and compare the transpiration amounts estimated by model and measured by the developed system. Environmental factors, such as light intensity, temperature, relative humidity, and EC of nutrient solution were measured. A precise irrigation control system developed was controlled by drainage rate, substrate EC as well as accumulated radiation. A conventional irrigation method based on accumulated radiation (Treatment 1) was compared with the irrigation methods additionally controlling drainage rate (Treatment 2) and both of drainage rate and substrate EC (Treatment 3). Drainage rate and substrate EC were well controlled in the developed system. More water could be saved at Treatment 2. Furthermore, control of substrate EC enabled more precise irrigation control. Productivity of fruits increased at Treatments 2 and 3 than at Treatment 1 without any significant differences in vegetative growth. The transpiration amount could be more accurately obtained by the system than by the model estimation. Particularly, adequate amount of water could be supplied considering multi variables such as accumulated radiation, drainage rate, and substrate EC. By using this system, systemized irrigation strategies can be established and more efficient irrigation management can be possible.

Keywords drainage control, irrigation frequency, moisture content, precise irrigation, solar radiation, transpiration monitoring

Significance of this study

What is already known on this subject?

  • Irrigation systems based on accumulated radiation have been practically used in soilless culture because it was known that the accumulated radiation is proportional to the transpiration of crops.
What are the new findings?
  • An irrigation control system was developed in which the transpiration amount was precisely measured and the irrigation strategies considering accumulated radiation, drainage rate, and substrate EC were included. The water use efficiency and fruit productivity of paprika could be improved with this system.
What is the expected impact on horticulture?
  • A precise irrigation control strategy considering transpiration and root-zone environments could improve the water use efficiency and crop productivity in soilless culture.

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Received: 17 November 2014 | Revised: 24 April 2015 | Accepted: 15 September 2015 | Published: 21 December 2015 | Available online: 21 December 2015

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