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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Wooster, Ohio » Application Technology Research » Research » Research Project #438340

Research Project: Sustainable Production and Pest Management Practices for Nursery, Greenhouse, and Protected Culture Crops

Location: Application Technology Research

Project Number: 5082-21000-001-00-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: May 20, 2020
End Date: May 19, 2025

Objective:
1: Develop growth models integrating light, temperature, carbon dioxide, and other environmental factors into decision-support software tools to reduce energy costs or increase yield and quality of ornamental and edible crops grown under controlled environment. 2: Develop nutritional and substrate amendment guidelines that improve crop quality and yield or reduce environmental impacts of food and ornamental plants grown in protected horticulture. 3: Develop new hydroponic and container-culture technologies that improve substrate chemical, physical, or biological properties and reduce nutritional, water, and agrichemical inputs. 4: Identify alternative control agents and develop and/or improve methods and strategies for managing pests (insects, other arthropods, and weeds) in horticultural (food and ornamental) crops through improved knowledge of pest biology, ecology, & behavior in order to reduce pesticide usage.

Approach:
Ornamental, nursery, and protected culture crops represent about one-fourth of the farm gate value of all specialty crops, and about 15% of the total value of U.S. crop production (USDA NASS Horticultural Crop Census 2014). Production value of nursery and greenhouse crops was estimated at $19 billion in 2013 (USDA NASS Horticultural Crop Census 2014). This project brings together the expertise of USDA-ARS research scientists with cooperators at other universities to focus on ornamental, nursery, and protected culture research. The project is a science-based, outcome-driven, economically motivated program that is already assisting growers in improving the quality of their food and ornamental crops. This project will continue to further our knowledge base in protected culture crops by: 1) integrating light, temperature, carbon dioxide, and other environmental parameters into growth models that enhance decision support in greenhouses and controlled environments, 2) continue developing silicon and other substrate amendments to enhance crop quality and mitigate biotic and abiotic stress, 3) engineering substrates to improve nutrient and water use efficiency, and 4) developing novel management strategies for insects and weeds that integrate knowledge of pest biology with cultural practices and management tools. This project integrates the mission and expertise of the Application Technology Research Unit with other researchers in disciplines critical to the overall success of the project.