Containment, Remediation, and Recycling of Irrigation Water for Sustainable Ornamental Crop Production: Results of a SCRI Planning Grant

Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Desert Ballroom: Salons 7-8 (Desert Springs J.W Marriott Resort )
Sarah A. White , Environmental Horticulture, Clemson University, Clemson, SC
James S. Owen Jr. , Virginia Tech, Virginia Beach, VA
John Majsztrik , University of Maryland, Laurel, MD
Rodney Thomas Fernandez , Dept of Horticulture, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
Paul R. Fisher , University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
Charles R. Hall, Professor and Ellison Chair , Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
Tracy A. Irani , Environmental Horticulture, University of Florida, Gainsville, FL
John D. Lea-Cox , University of Maryland, College Park, MD
Julie Newman , University of California Davis, Oak View, CA
Lorence R. Oki , University of California, Davis, Davis, CA
Nursery, floriculture, and propagation production accounted for 81% ($9.48 billion) of the 2009 specialty crop production in the United States.  Access to high quality water sources is increasingly limited for irrigating these economically significant crops.  Given the production, environmental, and economic issues associated with the use of water —including recycled, reclaimed, surface, and ground water — it is critical to develop sustainable runoff, containment, and remediation technologies, and to identify alternative sources of water.  To better understand current practices and future water-related needs as perceived by grower stakeholders, we conducted a national survey effort collecting information from 388 industry stakeholders (44% completion rate).  Baseline data related to current production practices, which included irrigation, fertilization, and best management practices, was collected from growers producing ornamental crops in greenhouses, open container nurseries, and field operations.  In addition, five in-depth round-table discussion sessions were conducted at the Mid-Atlantic Nursery Trade Show, Gulf States Horticultural Expo, California Grown Show, OFA Short Course, and the Farwest Show with a total of 36 industry participants. A team of research and extension specialists facilitated by a Specialty Crops Research Initiative Planning Grant (NIFA Project # 2011-51181-30633) distilled the results from the survey and the round-table discussions.  We will present some of the specific research and extension related priorities identified by growers that must be addressed before conservation-based water use and management practices can be widely adopted by the industry, and discuss potential new methods to achieve these goals.  Our objective is to address the concerns and priorities identified by specialty crop producers while addressing gaps with current and future research.