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AN EVAPOTRANSPIRATION RESEARCH FACILITY FOR SOIL-PLANT-ENVIRONMENT INTERACTIONS

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan www.asabe.org

Citation:  Applied Engineering in Agriculture. Vol. 21(6): 993-998. (doi: 10.13031/2013.20034) @2005
Authors:   J. A. Tolk, T. A. Howell, S. R. Evett
Keywords:   Evapotranspiration, Rain shelter, Lysimeter, Plant water stress

The Soil-Plant-Environment Research (SPER) facility at USDA Agricultural Research Service at Bushland, Texas, opened in 1990 with 48 weighable lysimeters containing monolithic soil cores of three major soil groups and a rain shelter. Its purpose was to provide an environment for intensive plant water stress research and evaluate the impact of soil hydraulic characteristics on irrigation management strategies. The facility has now been upgraded with the addition of a fourth soil type collected using static weights, the installation of 48 deck (platform) scales for the continuous measurement of evapotranspiration (ET), and the use of a pressure-compensating drip system. The additional soil was selected to provide a wider range of nutrient and water supplying capacity compared with the other three soils. The conversion to weighing lysimeters allows the collection of diurnal ET data needed for plant physiological studies and validation of ET measurement equipment and models. The drip system reduces labor, increases precision of application amount, and reduces disturbance around the lysimeters. These improvements to the SPER facility will expand the type and quality of plant stress and irrigation management research projects that can be performed.

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