New inexpensive dendrometers for monitoring crop ... 1 New inexpensive dendrometers for monitoring crop

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    New inexpensive dendrometers for monitoring crop tree growth Presented at the 2008 Irrigation Show, Innovations in Irrigation Conference, November 2-4 in

    Anaheim, CA

    Junming Wang and Ted W. Sammis

    The authors are Junming Wang, Ph.D., Research Scientist, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico State University; and Ted W. Sammis, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico State University. Corresponding author: Junming Wang, MSC 3Q, PO Box 30003, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, New Mexico State University, NM 88003; phone: 575-646-3239; fax: 575-646-6041; e-mail: jwang@nmsu.edu.

    Abstract A fast-responding dendrometer is needed for measuring tree growth responses (daily or hourly) to drought, fertilization stress and other stresses. This study reports on operational comparisons between new, inexpensive automatic point and band contact dendrometers. Eighteen point and five band dendrometers were installed on pecan tree trunks and branches during the 2005 growing season, and their performance and measurements were compared by analyzing data downloaded weekly. Data indicated that the point dendrometer was accurate. However, band dendrometers may underestimate tree growth (average measured value by a band dendrometer was half that measured by the point dendrometers), and they may not be able to measure the hourly diameter change of small-diameter branches over several days. Point dendrometers were found to be suitable for large-scale tree growth measurements and water and fertilizer stress monitoring due to their fast response (hourly or faster), ease of construction and installation, and low expense (

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    represent the diameter. The distance between the two lines, which can be measured by a ruler on the optical dendrometer, is the diameter (Clark et al., 2000).

    Noncontact dendrometers can be more efficient than contact dendrometers with a 35 to 40% time savings, and their diameter measurements are comparable in accuracy to measurements by calipers and diameter tapes (Binot et al., 1995). Data measured by non-contact dendrometers can be directly downloaded to a computer (Binot et al., 1995). Automated contact point and band dendrometers are also commercially available. However, instruments cost around $650, which limits the number that can be installed on a tree to measure branch growth (Agricultural Electronics Corporation, 2003).

    Most dendrometers, except the automated ones, are “slow-responding” instruments, because they are typically used to measure tree growth monthly or yearly. To observe growth responses on an hourly or daily cycle (e.g., the responses to water and fertilizer stresses), a fast- responding electronic dendrometer is needed; and at least two sensors/branch must be installed and replicated three to four times (Andales et al., 2006). The minimum cost would be $20,800 to measure 4 trees, 4 branches per tree, with 2 dendrometers per branch, using commercially available automated fast-responding dendrometers. Consequently, there is a need for low-cost automated contact point or band dendrometers.

    Point dendrometers have been criticized for being inaccurate compared to band dendrometers—a point dendrometer can only measure a point diameter growth, while measurements from band dendrometers represent an average of all diameters over all directions (Avery and Burkhart, 1994; Clark et al., 2000). Therefore, multiple point dendrometers are needed for branch/trunk growth measurements. In addition, an automatic point dendrometer is often installed with the LVDT or a linear potentiometer holder (LVDT: linear variable differential transformer) anchored to a measuring branch with two long anchor screws (Andales et al., 2006), so the LVDT or potentiometer will not move as the branch/trunk grows. Band dendrometers do not have this measurement problem; however, an LVDT/potentiometer band dendrometer must be held to the branch with a constant spring tension that allows the band to expand as growth occurs. If the interest is in measuring the expansion and contraction of the trunk diameter throughout the day in response to moisture stress, a band dendrometer may not be sensitive enough because a spring must contract the band, and to accomplish this contraction the spring force must overcome the force of friction as the trunk shrinks.

    The objectives of this study were to design inexpensive automatic fast-responding point and band dendrometers and to compare the performance of these two systems to data found in the literature.

    Materials and methods

    Design Automatic band dendrometer

    The automatic band dendrometer consists of several parts, including a linear potentiometer sensor, stainless steel hose clamps, bolts and nuts, an aluminum channel, and a stainless steel spring (Figure 1). The potentiometer sensor is a Model 9605 BEI made by Duncan Electronics (http://www.beiduncan.com/html/products/linear/mini_sensors.htm). Clamps, bolts, nuts, and aluminum channel can be purchased from a local hardware store. The spring (model: LE 026 C 11s) can be ordered from Lee’s Spring Company (http://www.leespring.com/). The hose screw can be used to adjust the dendrometer perimeter to fit different branches and trunks.

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    The BEI 9605 sensor (Figure 2) gives a linear electrical response that can be converted to linear distance (e.g., diameter growth) when connected to a CR23X or a CR10X datalogger (Campbell Scientific, Inc., Logan, Utah) or to any data logger with the capability of measuring a half bridge circuit.

    The 9605 sensor must be wired as shown in Figure 2 or the response curve will be non- linear. The sensor is a linear sliding resistor with terminal 2 connected to the resistor slider (plunger). Terminals 3 and 1 are connected to the resistor’s end points. A datalogger measures the voltage (V1) between terminals 2 and 3 and the voltage (Vx) between terminals 1 and 3. The ratio of the resistance between 3 and 2 to the resistance between 1 and 3 is linearly related to the ratio of the length between 2 and 3 to the whole length between 1 and 3. From the ratio of V1 to Vx, the physical position of terminal 2 (plunger position) on the resistor can be determined. Consequently, the change in plunger length can be used to measure change in growth of the tree. The AC half bridge (P5) instruction set for the Campbell CR10X or CR23X is used in the data logger program to record the output from the sensor. Instruction P5 has eight parameters that need to be specified in the program. Appendix 1 shows an example program for a CR10X. Note that if more than one sensor is connected to the data logger, parameter 4 (excitation channel number) must be set to increment by 1 so that the excitation source can be rotated among the three available E (excitation) channels for consecutive sensors. If two sensors per trunk (or per branch) are installed, a 6-wire cable (e.g, Belden Part No. 9745, 22 AWG, unshielded) can be used to connect the sensor to the data logger. However, a 3- wire cable also can be used to connect the dendrometer to the data logger (e.g., Belden Part No. 8443, 22 AWG, unshielded). Wire lead length should be less than 116 m in order to get accurate measurements of the change in resistance. Longer wire lengths can be used, but calibration should be done with the leads connected to the sensor to account for the connection wire resistance. Construction of a band dendrometer requires two hose clamps (Figure 3, a, b and c). Each clamp perimeter should be longer than the half length of a branch perimeter to be measured. The clamps need to be unscrewed and then connected together (Figure 3, b and c). The screw at the open end is removed so that the other band end can go through the hole (Figure 3, d), and a new screw is inserted and held by a nut (Figure 3, e and f). The screw and nuts should leave some space around the band so that the band can freely move (Figure 3, f). The BEI 9605 is held in an aluminum channel segment which is held on the freely moving band end by two stainless screws (Figure 3, g and h). Appropriate holes on the aluminum channel are drilled and threaded before attaching the BEI 9605 sensor. The thread can be made directly by the screws instead of using threading tools since the aluminum is softer than the steel screw. One side of the spring is connected into the freely moving band end and the other side is connected into an appropriate point of the band (Figure 3, i). The spring choice was based on work by Keeland and Young (2007), who found that a spring length of 76.2 cm (3 inch), outside spring diameter of 6.35 mm (0.25 inch), and wire diameter of 0.66 mm (0.026 inch) work very well for band dendrometers. These springs provide an initial tension of 1.48 N (0.333 lb), a rate of 0.087 N/mm (0.5 lb/inch), and a maximum extension of 190.5 mm (7.5 inch).

    Automatic point dendrometer To build a point dendrometer, the BEI 9605 sensor is mounted in a 25.4 mm C–clamp

    (available at local hardware stores) that holds the 9605 sensor in place against the trunk or branch of the pecan tree (Figure 4). (We conducted intensive experiments on pecan tree water

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    use [evapotranspiration] and growth; these dendrometers were initially used to measure pecan tree growth. However, in this paper, we report the dendrometers’ design and comparison. These dendrometers can be used for other trees as well). Two holes are drilled at opposite sides of the clamp for the 100 mm hanger bolts. Two nuts on each bolt fix the clamp. Pre-drilling the trunk/branch for the two bolts is required to reduce resistance when driv