container substrate (5)

14 Sep 2016

Exploring the Influence of Particle Size on Plant Water Availability in Pine Bark Substrates

Fields, J., Owen, J.S., Scoggins, H. (Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University)

There is potential to reduce water and nutrient use over crop production by optimizing pine bark substrates.  Varying pine particle size and the addition of fibrous material (peat and coir) can change the air space, water holding capacity, and plant available water.  These insights can help growers develop optimal pine bark substrates that can produce a salable crop with reduced water use.

SNA Research Conference Vol 60 2015

14 Sep 2016

When to Fertigate: The Influence of Substrate Moisture Content on Nutrient Retention in Containerized Crop Production

McPherson, S., Owen, J.S., Brindley, J., Fields, J.S. (Virginia Tech)

The efficient use of fertilizers is key to increase profitability for the agriculture industry (nursery and greenhouse).  Fertigation efficiency increased as pine bark substrate moisture increased (38% to 56% gravimetrically).  It was hypothesized that mineral retention occured with uniformly distributed water.   

SNA Research Conference Vol. 60 2015

SNA When to fertigate (179 KB)

1 Aug 2016

The Effect of Oxygenation of Water on Dissolved Oxygen Measurements in Irrigation Water and Container Substrate

Yafuso, E.J. and Fisher, P. (University of Florida)

Oxygen supply is essential for root growth and nutrient uptake for plants.  There are many ways to supply oxygen to plants roots, in this study we focused on oxygen injection systems.  Oxygen injecting systems are an option to increase dissolved oxygen (DO) in irrigation water.  Two experiments evaluated (1) the persistence of super-saturated DO in irrigation lines, and (2) the DO level in container substrates irrigated with super-saturated water.  We learned that passing water through a mist nozzle caused DO to reach an equilibrium saturated level in irrigation water, regardless of whether oxygen was injected. In the substrate, a large volume of oxygenated water was required to increase DO in the substrate.  These experiments provide baseline knowledge for upcoming plant trials.

ASHS Abstract 2016 (28 KB)

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Description of research activities

A national team of scientists is working to encourage use of alternative water resources by the nation’s billion-dollar nursery and floriculture industry has been awarded funds for the first year of an $8.7 million, five year US Department of Agriculture – National Institute of Food and Agriculture –Specialty Crop Research Initiative competitive grant.

The team will develop and apply systems-based solutions to assist grower decision making by providing science-based information to increase use of recycled water.  This award from the NIFA’s Specialty Crop Research Initiative is managed by Project Director Sarah White of Clemson University.  She leads a group of 21 scientists from nine U.S. institutions.

Entitled “Clean WateR3 - Reduce, Remediate, Recycle – Enhancing Alternative Water Resources Availability and Use to Increase Profitability in Specialty Crops”, the Clean WateR3 team will assist the grower decision-making process by providing science-based information on nutrient, pathogen, and pesticide fate in recycled water both before and after treatment, average cost and return-on investment of technologies examined, and model-derived, site specific recommendations for water management.  The trans-disciplinary Clean WateR3 team will develop these systems-based solutions by integrating sociological, economic, modeling, and biological data into a user-friendly decision-support system intended to inform and direct our stakeholders’ water management decision-making process.

The Clean WateR3 grant team is working with a stakeholder group of greenhouse and nursery growers throughout the United States.

For example, at the University of Florida graduate student George Grant is collecting data on removal of paclobutrazol, a highly persistent plant growth regulator chemical, from recirculated water using granular activated carbon (GAC) filters. This is being done in both research greenhouses and in a commercial site. The GAC filters can remove more than 90% of chemical residues, and are proving to be a cost-effective treatment method.