The USDA-ARS Everglades Agro-Hydrology Research group was established in February 1998. Agronomy was created as a separate research project in 2006. Our mission is to provide science and technology to sustain agricultural production and environmental quality. Specific research objectives are:
1) To develop improved growth media utilized within containerized horticultural and floricultural production systems
2) To develop Best Management Practices (BMPs) that reduce or mitigate nutrients leaching from containerized production systems and enhance the quality of irrigation water passing through the containers. The focus of the unit is primarily on the south Florida region which has a unique water cycle with: seasonally heavy rainfall, a slight slope for drainage, a ground water table at or near the surface, an extensive drainage canal network, and a direct impact on the Everglades National Park and urban flood control.
The Agronomy project has three major projects underway. The first is to develop an inexpensive potting substrate with appropriate physical and chemical characteristics. We are using locally generated wastes from commercial nurseries and debris from construction sites. A second project seeks to identify plants of commercial value that can serve as biological accumulators of excess nutrients and toxic metals generated during nursery operations. These plants will be used in border strips to reduce hazardous material from moving offsite to adjacent wetlands. Once plants have sequestered low levels of metals like arsenic and cadmium they can be harvested and sold commercially without a danger of the materials escaping into the environment. The third project is to develop improved irrigation and wastewater management practices to reduce the volume and hazard from wastewater generated by containerized plant production.
These projects are dedicated to maintaining environmental quality and promoting a sustainable agro-ecosystem. For more information contact:
Stewart Reed, Ph.D. Research Agronomist
Telephone: (305) 254-3624