Use of leaf thickness sensors in horticultural crops

F.S. Lauriks, H.A.L. Van de Put, D.J.W. De Pauw, K. Steppe
Changes in leaf thickness can be a rapid indicator of the plantRSQUOs water status and can therefore serve as an alarm signal for potential water deficits. Combining the use of continuous leaf thickness measurements with a mechanistic plant model describing optimal leaf growth and diel variations, would allow growers to optimize greenhouse growing conditions by adaptation of the microclimate and applied irrigation. Recent development of new sensors offers the possibility for real time measurements of leaf thickness on small plants, including ornamentals. However, the accuracy of leaf thickness variation measurements needs to be assured. In this study, the temperature influence on 12 LeafSen (Netafim, Tel Aviv, Israel) sensors has been tested in a temperature range from 16 to 31°C by installation of the sensors on aluminium plates. Temperature variations in the investigated range resulted in sensor signal differences of up to 48 µm, indicating that temperature response can exceed the expected diel leaf thickness variation. Two typical temperature responses were distinguished, pointing to the need for a sensor specific temperature correction. The practical use of leaf thickness sensors and the established temperature corrections has been demonstrated by installing the sensors on the stem and leaf of three Ficus plants (Ficus benjamina) and three pot roses (Rosa chinensis) starting from cutting stage in a commercial greenhouse environment.
Lauriks, F.S., Van de Put, H.A.L., De Pauw, D.J.W. and Steppe, K. (2017). Use of leaf thickness sensors in horticultural crops. Acta Hortic. 1182, 79-86
DOI: 10.17660/ActaHortic.2017.1182.9
ornamental horticulture, temperature correction, water deficit, plant water status, water relations

Acta Horticulturae