story to find out more.
In California's San
Joaquin Valley, visiting soil scientist Ron Seligman collects data underground
inside a lysimeter while visiting engineer Nedal Katbeh-Bader (left) and
visiting soil and water scientist Naem Mazahrih place equipment to compare
accuracy of soil-water sensors. Click the image for more information about
Perfect Peppers: How Much Water Do They
Need? By Marcia
Wood September 22, 2006
Crisp, colorful bell peppers add zest to a breakfast omelet, a salad
of fresh greens at dinnerand much more. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists in California, where many
of the nations bell peppers are grown, are working with colleagues from
Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority to determine exactly how much
irrigation water a pepper plant needs in order to produce perfect peppers.
The research should benefit both the American West and Middle East
where growers compete with city dwellers for clean, fresh water. Giving pepper
plants precisely the amount of water they need conserves that natural resource,
benefitting growers balance sheets and the environment alike.
Ayars, with the ARS
Joaquin Valley Agricultural Sciences Center, Parlier, Calif., is helping
coordinate the unique collaboration. Though the San Joaquin Valley ranks as the
worlds most productive agricultural region, bell peppers are a relatively
new crop to its west sideand little is known about the plants water
needs, according to Ayars.
Naem Mazahrih (left), engineer Nedal Katbeh-Bader (kneeling) and ARS research
leader Tom Trout (holding clipboard) use a pressure chamber to check pepper
plants water status while soil scientist Ron Seligman (in background)
checks water content of the soil with a neutron probe. Click the image for
more information about it.
The Middle Eastern scientists worked with Ayars and
J. Trout, formerly at Parlier and now with ARS at Fort Collins, Colo., to
track the plants water use at sites that had one of three common types of
irrigation systems: furrow, in which water flows down channels between crop
rows; surface drip, in which water is delivered to plants a drop at a time via
a network of flexible black tubing; and subsurface drip, in which the tubing is
buried beneath the surface and the water moves directly to plant roots, where
its most needed.
Data gathered in these studies will help determine a figure called a
"crop coefficient" that can guide farm advisors, irrigation specialists and
growers in calculating how much water their pepper crop has used in the
previous several daysand deciding how much of that water they should
replenish, and when.
about this research in the September 2006 issue of Agricultural Research
ARS, the U.S. Department of
Agricultures chief scientific research agency, and the
U.S. Department of State are funding the