Submitted to: Southern Nursery Association Research Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: January 21, 2010
Publication Date: August 1, 2010
Citation: Wilson, C., Albano, J.P. 2010. Nitrate Concentrations in Nursery Drainage Water During Transition from a Full Fertigation Program to a Slow-Release Fertilizer Program: A Real Nursery Experience. Southern Nursery Association Research Conference. 55:179-181.
Interpretive Summary: The results of the study illustrate the effectiveness of using slow-release fertilizer formulations for reducing nitrate export from container production areas relative to fertigation. Nursery production managers located in nitrogen-limited watersheds with state or federally mandated nitrogen regulations should consider the use of slow-release fertilizer formulations for reducing nutrient enrichment of drainage water, especially if they discharge to off-site water bodies. In addition to reducing nitrate discharges from the production area, fertilizer costs were also reduced significantly.
Nutrient enrichment of public surface water bodies throughout the United States has resulted in the U.S. EPA and state governments development and enforcement to Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for nutrient-impaired water bodies. Previous work has indicated that significant amounts of nutrients can be leached from pots and production areas during normal irrigation and fertigation operations. Nitrate concentrations in runoff or drainage water reported by others has ranged from 1.6 ppm to 304 ppm. With increased pressure from state and federal regulatory agencies, nursery managers will need to reduce nutrient export from production areas to natural water bodies. Results from the study reported here document the reduction in nitrate concentrations within production area drainage water at a foliage plant nursery during their transition from 100% reliance on fertigation to a slow-release fertilizer-based fertility prgram.