Research at the University of Florida focused on evaluating whether oxygenation of irrigation water affected plant growth and substrate dissolved oxygen (DO) levels during mist propagation of unrooted cuttings and subsequent growth in containers. There were no measured differences in root growth when ambient tap or oxygenated water was used during mist propagation of calibrachoa or lobelia. Water that passed through fine mist nozzles increased the droplet surface area decreasing DO in super-saturated water and increased DO in ambient tap water to 100% DO saturation (8.7 ppm). Continued growth of three bedding plants were irrigated with nutrient supplemented water at ambient or oxygenated DO levels when pots dried to 45% of container capacity resulted in similar growth. Peat-based substrate contains high porosity facilitating oxygen supply to roots through air-filled pores. Read on to learn the key findings.
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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.