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Effect of Reduced Water Table and Fertilizer Levels on Subirrigated Tomato Production

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

Citation:  Applied Engineering in Agriculture. 11(3): 385-388. (doi: 10.13031/2013.25753) @1995
Authors:   C. D. Stanley, G. A. Clark
Keywords:   Fully enclosed subirrigation, Water table management.

Subirrigated fresh market tomato production in Florida uses raised, plastic-mulched beds and has traditionally used large amounts of water and fertilizer to ensure achieving targeted yield levels. Water table levels are typically maintained within 40 to 45 cm (16 to 18 in.) from the soil bed surface requiring continuous water application through lateral field ditches spaced 6 to 12 m (20 to 40 ft) apart. Field experiments were conducted for three spring growing seasons to test the impact of controlled water table positions using the fully enclosed subirrigation (FES) system and reduced fertilizer applications on fresh market tomato production. The experiment consisted of controlled water table level treatments of 45, 60, and 75 cm (18, 24, and 30 in.) and three fertilization rate combinations of 215, 309, and 403 kg N ha1 and 248, 356, and 465 kg K ha1 (192, 276, and 360 lb N acre1 and 221, 318, and 415 lb K acre1), respectively based on 6542 bed m ha1 (8686 bed ft acre1) conducted over three growing seasons. Fruit yield and quality were used to determine the impact of applied fertilizer rates and water table levels. Results show comparable seasonal production levels were achieved among fertilizer rates and water table levels with no significant interactions among treatments. Lower target water table levels used in combination with lower application rates of fertilizer had no detrimental effect on yield and reduced the potential for fertilizer to be leached by excessive rainfall.

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