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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Wooster, Ohio » Application Technology Research » Research » Research Project #444707

Research Project: Coupling Soilless Containerized Production Systems and Irrigation Technology to Address Water, Agrichemical, and Weed Management

Location: Application Technology Research

Project Number: 5082-21000-001-089-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Aug 15, 2023
End Date: Aug 14, 2025

By simultaneously integrating recently developed knowledge in root-zone management, along with new concepts in substrate, container, and irrigation technology, gains in crop production and resource use efficiency will be realized. These gains in production and efficiency will include: (1) Utilization of mulches and augmentation of cultural practices to eliminate liverwort and further minimize weed germination and establishment. (2) A 25% or greater reduction in freshwater that is applied as overhead- or micro-irrigation. (3) An 25% or greater reduction in agrichemical (i.e., fertilizer and pesticide) use and subsequent leaching and runoff, improving on-site freshwater quality and assisting with local, state, or national regulatory compliance.

Cooperator will conduct integrated soilless substrate and irrigation research, analyze weed, crop and substrate data, interpret results, publish findings in appropriate peer-refereed journals, and communicate applied solution to controlled environment agriculture stakeholders, namely nursery and greenhouse crop producers. An iterative research approach identifying and using stable soilless substrates, mulched, conventional or stratified, will be used to optimize containerized crop production with varying irrigation technologies and schedules to improve the use of applied resources. Crop growth, quality, and yield, as well as agrichemical leaching will be compared in a factorial combination of container substrates, mulching strategies, and irrigation strategies. Crop growth quality and yield will be measured with traditional tools such as plant dry mass, foliar chlorophyll content, root growth, etc. Agrichemical leaching will include analysis of nutrients and pesticides using in-house analytical tools.