Perceptions of Water Use Impacts in Nurseries and Greenhouses

In the United States alone, nursery and greenhouse growers irrigate some 267,000 hectares of land and contribute over $14 billion to the national economy. Optimizing the use and reuse of water is important for nursery and greenhouse growers. This project funded by USDA ARS brings together the expertise of research scientists from the Lamm Lab at UGA, USDA-ARS, and Clemson University to focus on research that explores the human dimension of water use within this important sector. Through the use of surveys and focus groups the project intends to achieve the following objectives:

  1. Identify the value specialty crop producers’ assign to environmental stewardship including how they feel about being heavy freshwater users and perceptions of how their use of water (including involved contaminants and pollutants) impact agricultural production and the natural environment to determine best strategies for communicating with producers about water management.
  2. Determine if scientists’ perceptions of specialty crop producers’ use of water, including associated contaminants and pollutants and levels of environmental stewardship, align with those expressed by growers to identify gaps between the two groups and develop strategies which encourage two-way communication between producers and the scientific community.
  3. Identify regulators’ perceptions of specialty crop growers’ environmental stewardship and water use, including associated contaminants and pollutants, as it relates to policy impacting specialty crop production and compare it to producers’ and scientists’ perceptions to improve communication between the three groups and develop strategies that assist in the development of science-informed policy associated with specialty crop producers’ water use. 

The findings will further our knowledge base by:

  1. Ensuring the human dimension is integrated into environmental stewardship projects related to water use thereby improving decision-making,
  2. Ensuring specialty crop producers’ awareness of contaminants and pollutants is improved through strategic communication
  3. Motivating the scientific community to work collaboratively with growers to identify and mitigate contaminants and pollutants thereby improving environmental sustainability, and
  4. Developing novel strategies for ensuring regulators, scientists and producers are working collaboratively in the development and enforcement of regulation impacting contaminant and pollutant release into the natural environment.