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This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 79 No. 6, p. 1084-1086
    Received: Dec 23, 1986

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Hand-Operated Rainout Shelter1

  1. S. Bittman,
  2. E. Z. Jan and
  3. G. M. Simpson2



Rainout shelters are used in drought studies because they provide a means of controlling the input of water. Our objective was to design a hand-operated rainout shelter that would be inexpensive, sturdy, easy to operate, and large enough to cover a 2.1- by 6-m field plot. The shelter was comprised of a stationary wood frame, a retractable cover of clear polyethylene (0.15 mm), and a tank to collect excluded water. Twelve shelters were built in 1983 and 1984. Each could be covered or uncovered by two people in 1 to 2 min. The shelters withstood winds of 6.9 m s−1, a rainfall rate of 8.8 mm in 15 min, and were effective in creating uniform water deficits for sampling areas of 4.5 m2 as indicated by growth, leaf senescence, leaf rolling, and leaf water potential. The shelters provided an artificial microclimate useful for experiments emphasizing comparisons within, rather than between, moisture regimes. Our shelters are more portable and less costly than automated units but require more labor for operation and maintenance.

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