A pressure collar, assembled around 25cm sections of 4-year-old willow twigs, was used to examine cavitation events under field conditions. When the air pressure inside the collar was raised to between 1–8 and 2–8MPa, ultrasound acoustic emission signals were triggered which indicated the breaking of water columns in the xylem. The hydraulic conductivity of the twig portion inside the chamber decreased markedly. As a result, water potentials and conductances in leaves at the end of the twig decreased. Similar changes were induced at comparable pressures in detached twigs. The equipment used is described in detail, and evidence is presented that the mechanism of this artificial production of emboli follows the air-seeding principle hypothesized for natural cavitation events.