conserve water (40)

2 Mar 2020

Consumer Involvement with and Expertise in Water Conservation and Plants Affect Landscape Plant Purchases, Importance, and Enjoyment

Bridget K. Behe (Michigan State University), Melinda Knuth and Charles Hall (Texas A&M), Patricia T. Huddleston and R. Thomas Fernandez (Michigan State University)

The strain on potable water supplies heightens the competition for water resources and potentially reduces the demand for landscaping. Therefore, we conducted an online survey to ascertain expertise, involvement, and importance of water conservation and landscaping. Cluster analysis results identified two segments: Actively Interested in Water Conservation and Disinterested in Water Conservation. Findings suggest that pro-water-conserving attitudes are found among consumers who value outdoor landscapes and those individuals who spend more on plants. Results suggest that professionals should focus messaging efforts on low water use cultivar selection and operationalizing water-conserving behaviors more than convincing consumers that plants are important.

Beheetal WaterConservationandPlants (112 KB)

6 Jan 2020

Water Conserving Irrigation Practices, Plant Growth, Seasonal Crop Coefficients, and Nutrition of Container-Grown Woody Ornamentals

R. Thomas Fernandez, Nicholas A. Pershey, Jeffrey A. Andresen, and Bert M. Cregg (Michigan State University)

Container nursery irrigation practices often result in over-application leading to nutrient leaching and reduced growth. Our objectives were to compare growth and foliar nutrient content for plants under control (19 mm or ¾ inch daily) and 3 daily water use (DWU) based irrigation treatments; determine DWU of 14 woody plants; and classify plants into irrigation groups. Average DWU ranged between 2.1 and 22.0 mm. Most DWU-based treatments resulted in less water applied than the control, yet plant growth was not reduced. Lower foliar P and K concentrations were found for several taxa in control versus DWU treatments.

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16 Dec 2019

Reducing Water and Pesticide Movement in Nursery Production

Damon E. Abdi and R. Thomas Fernandez (Michigan State University)

Ornamental nurseries produce a large number of plants in a concentrated area where high inputs of water, nutrients, and pesticides are used. Nursery production further increases inputs because container substrates are designed to quickly drain and overhead irrigation is the primary method of irrigation. A large proportion of water or pesticides land on nontarget areas in the spaces between containers, creating runoff contaminant issues. Water is the primary means of pesticide movement in nursery production. This review discusses water and pesticide dynamics and management strategies to conserve water and reduce pesticide and water movement during container nursery production.

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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.