Effect of alkalinity in irrigation water on selected greenhouse crops
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Effect of Alkalinity in Irrigation Water on Selected Greenhouse Crops. (August 2004) Luis Alonso Valdez Aguilar, B.S., Universidad Aut??noma de Nuevo Le??n, Mexico; M.S., Universidad Aut??noma Chapingo, Mexico Chair of Advisory Committee: Dr. David Wm. Reed Bicarbonate (HCO3-) and carbonate (CO32-) are the most important ions that determine alkalinity. When the carbonates accumulate in a growing medium, the growing medium solution pH reaches levels that cause plant growth inhibition, which is caused primarily by the transformation of soluble forms of Fe into insoluble forms. The general objective of this research was to provide information about the limits of tolerance to alkalinity in ornamental plants, and to study the interaction of ions such as ammonium (NH4+) and nitrate (NO3-) on the response of plants to alkalinity, as well as the effect of the counter-ions potassium (K+), sodium (Na+), cesium (Cs+), ammonium (NH4+) and rubidium (Rb+). The maximum SPAD index was estimated to occur at 0 mM of NaHCO3 in chrysanthemum, mini-rose, and hibiscus ??Bimini Breeze?? and ??Mango Breeze??. For vinca it was set at 2.64 mM. A 15% decrease from the maximum SPAD index was considered the threshold to declare the toxic concentration of NaHCO3, which was calculated based on the maximum SPAD index predicted by the models. The toxic concentration of NaHCO3 was set at 4.1, 1.1, 6.7, 3.1, and 6.3 mM of NaHCO3 in chrysanthemum, mini-rose, vinca, and hibiscus ??Mango Breeze?? and ??Bimini Breeze??, respectively. Hibiscus ??Bimini Breeze?? was considered tolerant to alkalinity, due to increased Fe-reduction capacity and acidification of the growing medium. In the hydroponic experiment, results showed that the NH4+:NO3- ratio altered the response of sunflower plants to alkalinity. Sunflower plants grew better in solutions containing 5 mM NaHCO3 prepared with a 0.25:0.75 NH4+:NO3- ratio. This was possible due to the reaction of NH4+ with the HCO3-, which reduced its buffering capacity. The response to HCO3--induced alkalinity was modified by the counter-cation of HCO3-. In bean plants, at low-to-intermediate levels of Na+ and HCO3- induced approximately same growth decrease. At high concentration, Na+ induced a decrease on shoot growth that exceeded the toxic effects of HCO3-. Thus, the toxic effect of Na+ is higher than that of HCO3- when its concentration is high. Rubidium was extremely toxic at concentrations of 7.5 mM.
Valdez Aguilar, Luis Alonso (2004). Effect of alkalinity in irrigation water on selected greenhouse crops. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from