Search and Access Archived Conference Presentations

The 2009 ASHS Annual Conference

NCDC216: A New Multistate Group for Water Management and Quality for Ornamental Crop Production and Health

Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Illinois/Missouri/Meramec (Millennium Hotel St. Louis)
R. Thomas Fernandez, Department of Horticulture, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
John Lea-Cox, Univ of Maryland, College Park, MD
Gladis Zinati, Plant Biology and Pathology, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ
Chuanxue Hong, Department of Plant Pathology, Physiology and Weed Science, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia Beach, VA
Raul Cabrera, Texas A&M Univ, Dallas, TX
Donald Merhaut, University of California, Riverside, CA
Joseph Albano, USDA-ARS, Fort Pierce, FL
Marc van Iersel, Ph.D Professor, Department of Horticulture, University of Georgia, Athens, GA
Thomas Yeager, Univ of Florida, IFAS, Gainesville, FL
Douglas Buhler, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
We have established a USDA multistate development committee (NCDC216) to create a project focused on water management and quality for ornamental crop production and health. The nursery and greenhouse industry ranks 5th (>$14.6 billion) among all US agriculture commodities and within the top 5 commodities in 26 states according to the USDA. The quantity and quality of water available for irrigation has major consequences on the productivity and profitability of this important sector of agriculture. The record 2006-2008 drought in the eastern US had a severe negative impact on the nursery industry in that region. The Great Lakes region is implementing water use policies in order to comply with the recently ratified Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resource Compact. Drought and water conservation are not new issues to the western states where availability has long been a limitation but demographic changes are increasing competition between users. Demand from industry, homeowners and agriculture is increasing in almost all areas of the US. Increased regulation and competition for water resources necessitates improved water management techniques in all regions. Water is no longer an issue restricted to certain areas of the country with insufficient water quantity and/or quality but is a national and global issue. This national effort to address water resource challenges will ensure a more efficient and coordinated use of assets and provide research and extension programs to address this critical issue. The goals are to provide a forum to develop multidisciplinary approaches to 1) improve water efficiency and crop productivity while minimizing the risk of releasing nutrient- and chemical-rich irrigation runoff into natural waters, 2) de-couple crop health risk with recycling irrigation to promote water resource conservation and protection, 3) investigate alternative water sources, and 4) to develop soilless substrates with physical and chemical characteristics that improve water an nutrient availability while reducing leaching of fertilizers. The intent of this project is to bring together a multidisciplinary team to include colleagues in horticulture, plant physiology, plant pathology, entomology, pest management, engineering, hydrology and other fields interested in addressing water use issues. Improving water management and quality will have several important impacts: 1) reduction in total water use through more efficient practices; 2) improved technology for irrigation scheduling; 3) improved crop production through increased water and nutrient use efficiency, 4) reduced runoff and impairment of natural waters, and 5) enhanced crop health and consumer confidence stemming from more sustainable practices.