Review. Use of psychrometers in field measurements of plant material: accuracy and handling difficulties

E. M. Martinez, J. J. Cancela, T. S. Cuesta, X. X. Neira


The determination of leaf water potential is useful in the establishment of irrigation guidelines for agricultural crop management practices and requires the use of various methods, among which thermocouple psychrometers (TCP). TCP have been widely used for this purpose. However, the psychrometric technique is complex and difficult to understand and the instrumentation required is difficult to handle. For this reason, a profound knowledge of the different aspects involved in the technique —which have not been clearly explained in the literature— is required. This paper reviews a number of research areas of TCP and focuses on three very specific fields: a) main applications of phsychrometry in field studies; b) determination of the measurement accuracy of psychrometric equipment, accuracy per se and accuracy tested against alternative methods; c) main errors and handling difficulties of TCP in the field. Research in these areas provides an updated overview of TCP as a method for determining water relations in plant material that will contribute criteria to select the most suitable technique according to the type of plant material and the purpose of the research and will highlight the types of instruments, accuracies and errors that have detrimental effects on measurements.


hygrometric technique; irrigation; isopiestic technique; pressure chamber; psychrometric technique

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DOI: 10.5424/sjar/20110901-295-10