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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Poplarville, Mississippi » Southern Horticultural Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #332730

Research Project: Production and Disease and Pest Management of Horticultural Crops

Location: Southern Horticultural Research

Title: Nutrient, pH, alkalinity, and ionic property levels in run-off containment basins in Alabama, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi and Virginia ornamental plant nurseries

Author
item Copes, Warren
item ZHANG, HAIBO - Virginia Polytechnic Institution & State University
item RICHARDSON, PATRICIA - Virginia Polytechnic Institution & State University
item BELAYNEH, BRUK - University Of Maryland
item RISTVEY, ANDREW - University Of Maryland
item LEA-COX, JOHN - University Of Maryland
item HONG, CHUANXUE - Virginia Polytechnic Institution & State University

Submitted to: HortScience
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/7/2017
Publication Date: 5/15/2017
Citation: Copes, W.E., Zhang, H., Richardson, P.A., Belayneh, B.E., Ristvey, A., Lea-Cox, J., Hong, C. 2017. Nutrient, pH, alkalinity, and ionic property levels in run-off containment basins in Alabama, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi and Virginia ornamental plant nurseries. HortScience. 52:461–468.

Interpretive Summary: Nine run-off containment basins (RCB's), used directly or indirectly for irrigating plants in ornamental plant nurseries, and one adjacent stream from Maryland (MD), Mississippi (MS) and Virginia (VA), were sampled between February and July 2013 for 18 water quality variables including nitrate-nitrogen, ammonium-nitrogen, ortho phosphate-phosphorus, total-phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, aluminum, boron, copper, iron, manganese, zinc, pH, total alkalinity, electrical conductivity and salinity to characterize nutrient levels in those RCB's. Additionally, 15 RCB's from Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi were sampled once in 2014 and 2016. Based on industry water quality standards, values were predominately low with a few values being slightly above preferred levels in the waterways. Macronutrients were highest in VA RCB's that directly receive fertility from fertigation run-off. Water pH was higher (>9) for the MS and MD RCB's. Low to moderate EC values in RCBs may have contributed to low or no recovery of aggressively pathogenic Phytophthora species, which is partially substantiated from past sampling from some of the same RCBs. Results show water quality in RCBs can have minimal impact on ornamental plant health in nurseries, but also demonstrates levels of water quality variables vary between individual RCBs, therefore requires water analysis to verify it is a suitability source. This information provides practical comparative guidance that will benefit nursery ornamental plant growers, extension agents, and research scientists.

Technical Abstract: Nine run-off containment basins (RCBs), used directly or indirectly for irrigating plants in ornamental plant nurseries, and one adjacent stream were sampled for water quality between February and July 2013 in Maryland, Mississippi and Virginia. Triplicate water samples were taken once monthly, and during that period an additional set were taken at 2 hour intervals between 8 AM and 6 PM for one day in June or July from 3 of the RCBs and the stream. Two additional monthly samples were performed between August and October 2013 from one RCB in Mississippi. Additionally, 15 RCBs from 10 nurseries in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi were sampled once in 2014 and 2016. Analysis was done for 18 water quality variables including nitrate-nitrogen, ammonium-nitrogen, ortho phosphate-phosphorus, total phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sulfur, aluminum, boron (B), copper, iron (Fe), manganese, zinc (Zn), pH, total alkalinity, electrical conductivity (EC), and sodium. Based on Pearson's correlation coefficient, no pair-wise correlations were prevalent across a majority of RCBs. Existing pair-wise correlations (P=0.01) were most prevalent between the macronutrients, and between many of the macronutrients with EC, B, Fe and/or Zn. In concordance with water quality parameter values being present at low to preferred levels in the waterways, no detrimental impact on plant quality was apparent on plants irrigated with water from the RCBs at the five nursery operations. Macro-nutrient levels were highest for VA11 and VA12 that receive fertility from fertigation derived run-off. Water pH was higher (>9) for the MS and MD RCB's. Other differences also occurred between RCBs. The results of this study show water quality in RCBs can be suitable for promoting plant health in ornamental plant nurseries, but also shows levels of water quality variables will vary between individual RCBs, therefore demonstrates need to verify water quality from individual water sources.