conserve water (42)

10 Aug 2020

Nutrient and pesticide remediation using a two-stage bioreactor-adsorptive system under two hydraulic retention times

Damon E. Abdi, James S. Owen Jr, Julie C. Brindley, Anna C. Birnbaum, P. Chris Wilson, Francisca O. Hinza, Gemma Reguera, Joo-Young Lee, Bert M. Cregg, Daniel R. Kort, R. Thomas Fernandez

Nutrients and pesticides in irrigation return flow from agricultural operations pose an environmental risk. Water treatment systems, such as woodchip bioreactors and expanded aggregate filters, can be used to remediate these contaminants. Our objectives were to investigate agrochemical removal with these systems when operated under an extended hydraulic retention time (HRT) of 3 days and a rapid HRT of 21 minutes. A 3 day HRT effectively reduced nitrate and phosphate below 0.2 ppm in woodchip bioreactors and expanded shale filters, respectively; while a 21 minute HRT was sufficient for removing 50-75% of influent pesticide content but not for nutrient removal. 

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13 Jul 2020

Exploring Nursery Growers’ Perceptions, Attitudes and Opinions about Water Usage to Inform Water Conservation Education

Pei-wen Huang (University of Florida), Alexa J. Lamm (University of Georgia), Laura A. Warner, Paul Fisher (University of Florida), and Sarah A. White (Clemson University)

Research has shown the nursery industry needs to seek alternative water sources and adopt water conservation strategies to reduce water use in order to stay viable. This study used a qualitative approach to explore nursery growers’ perceptions, attitudes, and opinions about water usage to inform the development of Extension programs that encourage adoption of water conservation strategies.

Exploring Nursery Growers Perceptions Attitudes and Opinions (348 KB)

13 Jul 2020

A New Perspective on Adoption: Delivering Water Conservation Extension Programming to Nursery and Greenhouse Growers

Laura A. Warner (University of Florida), Alexa J. Lamm (University of Georgia), Sarah A. White (Clemson University), Paul R. Fisher and Peyton N. Beattie (University of Florida)

Extension professionals help important agricultural sectors across the country resolve challenges using science-based practices that enhance environmental and social wellbeing while supporting businesses. Nursery and greenhouse growers comprise one of the largest sectors of U.S. agriculture, and this group is challenged to conserve water without compromising their economic viability. While Extension professionals educate and support nursery and greenhouse growers, there is a deficiency of research on adoption processes within this sector. To better understand this important Extension audience, this research examined the influence of critical thinking and problem-solving style on perceived characteristics of water conservation technologies and in turn the perceived characteristics relationship with their implementation.

A New Perspective on Adoption (962 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.