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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Fort Pierce, Florida » U.S. Horticultural Research Laboratory » Citrus and Other Subtropical Products Research » Research » Research Project #435225

Research Project: Improving the Efficiency of Container Substrates: Developing Water and Nutrient Profiles

Location: Citrus and Other Subtropical Products Research

Project Number: 6034-22000-043-021-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2018
End Date: Aug 31, 2023

Objective:
1. Determine the changes in certain physical, hydrological and nutritional properties of substrate components and mixtures when water and fertilizer solutions are applied; 2. Determine the fates of water and nutrients during containerized plant production under greenhous conditions; 3. Develop water and nutrient profiles for these substrates based on data obtained in objectives one and two.

Approach:
The approach would be to develop blends of popular components (peat, bark, coir, wood fiber, perlite) of horticultural substrates that alter the capture, internal substrate flow and ultimate fates of irrigation solutions by measuring the resultant physical parameters, such as total porosity, air space, container capacity, wettability, unsaturated hydraulic conductivity and bulk density. Water, with and without, known nutrients will be used in these above procedures and the nutrient compliment measured to determine if these physical changes in water capture and retention affect nutrient availability. Substrates with different physical profiles will be used to grow plants using best practices for greenhouse production. Water and nutrients will be monitored throughout the crop to ascertain the ultimate fates of water and nutrients and to develop water and nutrient profiles. It is hoped that this work will develop both physical and chemical benchmarks for measuring improved efficiency in future substrates and irrigation practices.