Submitted to: Agronomy Journal
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/11/2005
Publication Date: 1/3/2006
Citation: Prior, S.A., Runion, G.B., Kornecki, T.S., Rogers Jr, H.H. 2006. A pneumatic device for lifting containers in plant water use studies. Agronomy Journal. 98:120-123. Interpretive Summary: Weighing pots or containers with soil to determine how much water is used by plants can require a lot of time and labor. We made a container weighing system that was quick and required very little physical labor. This system had a support frame that housed an air operated cylinder which was connected to a weighing scale. The frame could be positioned over the container and the air operated cylinder was capable of lifting heavy pots with little effort. In repeated tests, this system has performed well in weighing heavy containers very quickly with little physical labor required.
Technical Abstract: Direct gravimetric determinations of whole plant water use in pot studies can be time consuming due to the tremendous labor required to physically lift containers for placement on weighing scales. Our objective was to design and construct a container weighing system that could be rapidly deployed and required little physical labor. A custom-made support frame, equipped with a pneumatic lifting cylinder connected to a weighing scale, was constructed to handle large plastic containers (45-L) filled with a coarse sandy medium (>70 kg when saturated with water). Custom lifting arms were constructed for attachment to the scale on one end, while the other end was designed to catch the handles of the plastic containers. The support frame weighing apparatus was positioned over the container and the pneumatic lifting cylinder was activated only after lifting arms had been attached to the plastic container. As many as 25 large plastic containers could be weighed per hour with this system. The weighing system has been successfully used to follow plant water use patterns over time.