An air-lift principle for transport of water was adapted for automatic irrigation of experimental pots originally constructed for manual irrigation by the weighing method. The two irrigation techniques were compared in an experiment with increasing amounts of nitrogen fertilizer to spring barley. Productions of grain and straw and chemical composition were almost the same after the two irrigation methods, and it was concluded that the laborious manual watering could be replaced by automatic irrigation. Comparison of the yield from individual plants in the pots showed a large difference between centre plants and border plants independent of irrigation principle. The increase in yield per pot with increasing N fertilization was at the highest N level caused only by an increase in yield of the border plants.