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Leaching Fraction: A Tool to Schedule Irrigation for Container-Grown Nursery Crops



Authors as Published

Authored by James S. “Jim” Owen Jr., Nursery Crop Extension Specialist, Hampton Roads Agricultural Research and Extension Center, and Associate Professor, School of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Virginia Tech; Anthony V. LeBude, Nursery Crops Extension Specialist, Mountain Horticultural Crops Research and Extension Center, and Associate Professor, Horticultural Science, NC State University; Amy Fulcher, Extension Specialist, Tennessee Cooperative Extension, and Associate Professor, Sustainable Ornamental Plant Production and Landscape Management, University of Tennessee; Jane Stanley, Chief of Container Production, Saunders Brothers, Inc.; and Lorence R. “Loren” Oki, Specialist in Cooperative Extension, Environmental Horticulture, Plant Sciences, University of California-Davis, and Co-Director, UC Nursery and Floriculture Alliance, Reviewed by Eric Stallknecht, Assistant Professor and Greenhouse Specialist

This publication is available in an enhanced digital version and PDF.

Monitoring leachate can be a helpful tool to successfully schedule irrigation and avoid the inefficiencies associated with over-irrigation. Leachate, the volume of water that drains from a container after irrigation is completed, can be compared to the volume of water applied during an irrigation event. This ratio is called the leaching fraction. Leaching fractions can be used first to survey whether different taxa grown within a single irrigation zone are getting the appropriate amount of water, then that information can form the basis for determining the appropriate amount of water to apply. By comparing the measured leaching fractions with the desired leaching fraction for that zone, producers can adjust the irrigation run time accordingly to apply the desired amount.

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Publication Date

June 5, 2024