High irrigation frequency: The effect on plant growth and on uptake of water and nutrients

A. Silber, G. Xu, R. Wallach

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The objective of the present research was to explore the effects of frequent irrigation and fertilization on the uptake of water and nutrients by lettuce and bell pepper plants. The daily fertigation frequency induced a significant increase in yield, especially at low nutritional levels. Yield improvement was primarily related to enhanced uptake of nutrients, especially P. It was suggested that the reduced yield obtained at low frequency resulted from deficiency of nutrients rather than of water, and that high irrigation frequency could compensate for nutrient deficiency. Consequently, an increase in fertigation frequency enables the concentrations of immobile elements such as P, K and trace metals in irrigation water to be reduced, so reducing environmental pollution. The main two mechanisms involved were the frequent replenishment of nutrients in the depletion zone near the root surface and the enhancement of mass flow transport. However, modification of the NH 4/NO3 ratio is recommended while the irrigation frequency is increased because of NH4 toxicity. Time-dependent processes such as nitrification reduce the temporal NH4 concentrations in the rhizosphere and hence, the actual NH4concentrations increase as the time interval between consecutive fertigations is reduced. Adjustment of the NH4/NO3 ratio at high irrigation frequencies is recommended, in order to diminish the risks of NH4 toxicity in sensitive crops.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationXXVI International Horticultural Congress
Subtitle of host publicationToward Ecologically Sound Fertilization Strategies for Field Vegetable Production
PublisherInternational Society for Horticultural Science
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9789066053205
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2003
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameActa Horticulturae
ISSN (Print)0567-7572


  • Fertigation
  • Hydraulic conductivity
  • Nutrient acquisition


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