story to find out more.
engineers Heping Zhu (left) and Richard Derksen (center) and technician Barry
Nudd use a pulsed laser and a high-speed video camera to evaluate a new spray
nozzle for its efficacy in watering nursery and greenhouse crops. Click the
image for more information about it.
Learning to Grow Better Nursery
Don Comis February 22, 2006
A new monitoring system developed by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists in Ohio is teaching
researchers and nursery growers how to grow better trees and horticultural
plants using more precise, efficient and safe applications of water, nutrients
The system is the brainchild of a team assembled over the past three
Krause, research leader and plant pathologist in the ARS
Technology Research Unit at Wooster. ARS is the
U.S. Department of Agricultures
principal scientific research agency.
Although the lessons learned in the research are still experimental,
theyre already being adopted so rapidly by nursery operators that some in
the industry expect the ARS monitoring system to be commercialized within the
next few years. Nursery managers have reduced water use by 40 percent or more
by applying these lessons.
The system monitors plant needs year-round, currently using 30 sensors
for each of three sets of 50 trees. Tests are being done at
Willoway Nurseries in Avon,
Ohio, on Red Sunset maple, redbud, and Chanticleer pear trees. The sensors and
a weather station linked to computer data loggers take readingsevery
minute, 24 hours a day, during the growing seasonof measurements such as
soil temperature and moisture.
The tests are being done with an increasingly popular production
technique called pot-in-pot, in which potted plants are set inside
holder pots permanently buried in the field. This especially lends itself to
the new monitoring system, but is not the only technique that would work with
Excess water draining from the pots is measured and evaluated for
quality and levels of wasted nutrients and pesticides. The system has shown
that applying water at a slower rate several times a day reduces total water
use and has revealed that the trees were being over-fertilized. It also
promises to be the safest way to target pesticides, pumping them through hoses
to individual spray nozzles attached to stakes in each plant pot.
details, see the February 20006 issue of Agricultural Research