Precision irrigation is essential to improve Water Use Efficiency (WUE), defined as the amount of biomass produced per unit of water used by plants. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of different soil Volumetric Water Content (VWC) in plant growth, fruit yield, quality, and WUE of cherry tomatoes grown in a greenhouse.
The team tested four VWC thresholds (0.23, 0.30, 0.37, and 0.44 m3 m−3) to trigger a drip irrigation system in two tomato cultivars (‘Sweet Heaven’ and ‘Mascot F1′). The experiment was arranged in a split-plot design with four replications. The team used capacitance sensors connected to an open-source, low-cost platform to monitor and control the irrigation in real-time based on demand. Plants were watered every time the soil VWC dropped below the set thresholds. The treatment with VWC 0.44 m3 m−3 resulted in the highest fruit yield, with 102.10% higher WUE when compared to the VWC 0.23 m3 m−3 in both cultivars.
Fruit quality traits such as longitudinal and equatorial diameter increased asymptotically with soil water content. In contrast, treatments with deficit irrigation increased the fruit soluble solids by 15.73% in both cultivars. These results strongly suggest that accurate control of the soil VWC is essential to modulate the fruit yield and quality attributes in tomatoes produced in the greenhouse.
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Oliveira, Henrique & Campos, Hugo & Mesquita, Marcio & Machado, Roriz & Vale, Luis & Siqueira, Ana & Ferrarezi, Rhuanito. (2021). Horticultural Performance of Greenhouse Cherry Tomatoes Irrigated Automatically Based on Soil Moisture Sensor Readings. Water. 13. 2662. 10.3390/w13192662.