Submitted to: SAF Annual Conference on Insect & Disease Management on Ornamentals
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/1/2008
Publication Date: 2/28/2008
Citation: Conference Proceedings: 24th Annual Conference on Pest and Diseas Management in Ornamentals. 72-79
Interpretive Summary: The USDA-ARS Greenhouse Production Research Group is the outcome of a congressionally mandated initiative to strengthen research efforts to increase efficiency, enhance economics, and reduce environmental impact of the greenhouse industry. The research aligns with USDA-ARS goals of being high risk and long term in that new concepts are being explored within the framework of near-term, practical application and futuristic approaches. The Project was established in collaboration with the University of Toledo which is strategically located within a major greenhouse production region. In addition, collaborators, both at the University of Toledo and other locations were identified who could provide expertise and facilities that would be needed to address the various aspects of the evolving research plan. The Project works closely with Extension personnel in the tri-state area of Ohio, Michigan and Indiana to expedite the distribution of research findings to the grower clientele. Initial research effort has been focused on plant nutrition and water management issues. Published results of initial research have provided a basis for further research, both by the Group as well as others in the research community, to further enhance protected horticulture crop production.
Technical Abstract: The USDA-ARS Greenhouse Production Research Group is involved in fundamental and developmental plant research aimed at developing tools for early stress detection and efficient agrochemical utilization for protected horticulture crops. The group conducts basic plant biology research with the goal of providing practical applications for 1) improved pest and pathogen control procedures, 2) improved production technology, and 3) tools to enable growers to make rapid decisions regarding production. The Project was established in collaboration with the University of Toledo and is strategically located within a major greenhouse production region. A close collaboration has been developed with local/regional grower organizations which serve as the first recipient of research results and act as a sounding board to help keep the research responsive to grower needs. The initial assessment of researchable production needs resulted in the project focusing on plant nutrition and water management issues. Initial results on development of non-destructive tools to detect root disease suggest that leaf temperature measurements hold potential to determine pathogen stress in advance of visual symptom development. Use of nitrogen fertilization in excess of optimal levels for plant growth not only resulted in reduced plant growth but also increased potential for botrytis infection. Effective use of polyacrylamide hydrogel media amendments was significantly affected by water quality and the theoretical benefit of their use was shown to be less than anticipated. Analysis of silicon uptake and accumulation in a wide range of floricultural species demonstrated that significant accumulation was limited to relatively few species and thus the potential benefit to reduce plant stress may be limited to specific crops. The computer software package, Virtual Grower, was created by integrating a number of programs that assist in determining management of individual aspects of greenhouse systems and future developments will enable improved energy use predictions, expansion of the weather database, and more options for energy curtain inputs, plant growth modeling, and other production-related issues. As resources, personnel and facilities are added to the Project, additional researchable aspects will be incorporated into the overall plan to enhance protected horticulture production.