An automated greenhouse sand culture system suitable for studies of P nutrition


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Abstract. Maintenance of realistically low solution P concentrations under controlled conditions is a major difficulty in studies of P nutrition. In this report, we describe a relatively simple and economical sand culture system capable of sustaining plant growth to maturity under controlled yet realistic P regimes. The system uses Al2O3 as a solid‐phase P buffer, and modern process control technology to control irrigation and addition of other mineral nutrients. Aspects of the design, use and potential applications of automated solid‐phase systems are discussed. The system was used to grow Phaseolus vulgaris to matarity at 0.4 mmol m3, 1.0 mmol m3 and 27 mmol m3 P with and without mycorrhizal inoculation. At flowering, low solution P concentrations were associated with reduced leaf concentrations of P in nonmycorrhizal plants, and reduced leaf concentrations of Ca in both mycorrhizal and nonmycorrhizal plants. Mycorrhizal inoculation increased leaf P, K, Mg and Mn concentrations, but reduced leaf N concentration. Low P regimes reduced final seed yield by diminishing both the number of pods per plant and the number of seeds per pod. Mycorrhizal inoculation significantly enhanced seed yield under low P regimes by increasing seed weight, the number of pods per plant, and the number of seeds per pod.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)547-554
Number of pages8
JournalPlant, Cell & Environment
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 1990

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Plant Science


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