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Three Factors That Can Impact The pH Of Growth Media

Author: Brian Sparks

The pH of water used in plant production is important when it comes to mixing with pesticides and dissolving micronutrients in water. However, according to Jose Chen Lopez, a horticulture specialist with Premier Tech Horticulture, the water pH has little influence on the pH of the growing medium. Other factors impact the pH of the growing medium.

See full article here.

Precision Irrigation – Publications and Information Resources


“Specialty Crop Research Initiative – Managing Irrigation and Nutrition via Distributed Sensing”

Our project is all about saving water, increasing efficiency and reducing the environmental impacts of ornamental plant production practices! We are using wireless sensor networks and environmental modeling to more accurately predict and apply irrigation water in nursery and greenhouse operations, and monitor green roofs for stormwater mitigation.

Our goal is to provide growers with the ability to precisely monitor and control applications of water and nutrients to plants in these production settings, based upon daily plant requirements.

Our vision is to provide the nursery and greenhouse industries with cost-effective equipment and strategies that can be used to reduce the volume and cost of inputs, increase profitability, reduce the environmental impacts of nursery and greenhouse production and encourage sustainable practices in the United States and beyond.

The purpose of this website is to provide you with an overview of our project and information about the research and development of an advanced environmental monitoring and irrigation system. We are actively collaborating with a number of commercial growers using their production areas as test environments. These collaborations will help us learn to best implement this new technology to minimize cost and maximize efficiency.

The SCRI-MINDS project has demonstrated multiple benefits of wireless sensor control systems for commercial nursery and greenhouse operations — This starts with reducing water applications compared to our best irrigation managers by between 40 and 70% depending on crop and season. However, these reductions in irrigation water use also extend to significant reductions in nutrient leaching and crop loss due to disease, with associated environmental benefits.

As importantly, we have demonstrated that there are multiple benefits which are associated with increased timeliness of irrigation decisions, which all translate into increased crop yield and quality and ultimately increased profitability for growers. The success of this project will culminate in the commercial release of the PlantPointTM advanced sensor network control system by Decagon Devices, Inc. in early 2015.

All of these benefits are highlighted in our Final Year 5 report, which you can access from our Impacts Page

Or check out our publications from the drop-down menu here.

You can also download a summary of our project impacts from: SCRI-MINDS Impact Summary

New Video – Systems-based Pest Management: Irrigation Practices

This video demonstrates how nursery crop producers can apply a systems-based pest management approach to irrigation, eliminating or minimizing the spread of pathogens from recycled irrigation water and standing water in main production areas. It also covers the importance of testing water quality and refining irrigation volume to optimize plant health. Funding for this video was provided by the Southern Risk Management Education Center, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture, and the UT Department of Plant Sciences. Narrated by Ms. Haylee Jones, produced by Ms. Halee Jones and Dr. Diana Cochran with assistance from Dr. Amy Fulcher.

Link to video here.

Free Webinar – Pathogen Risk Mitigation through System Design and Using Precision Irrigation Tools

Webinar Presentation

Pathogen Risk Mitigation through System Design and Using Precision Irrigation Tools

Tuesday, 3 June, 2014
Noon to 1:00 pm (Eastern)
To participate in this webinar, please go to
and dial 1-888-619-1583 then enter pass code: 491981

Presenter: Dr. John Lea-Cox, Professor and Nursery Extension Specialist Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, University of Maryland

Summary: The use of recycled water from containment ponds or structures is an integral part of the sustainability of container-nursery and greenhouse production systems, even in those areas of the US which receive adequate rainfall. The capacity of containment structures is influenced by how much water can be captured and replenished from rainfall, groundwater or other sources. We need to therefore understand how we can firstly conserve water by scheduling daily irrigations to not only optimize plant growth, but reduce runoff and create drier, more antagonistic environments for pathogens within production areas. We don’t typically make very good decisions in estimating daily plant water use, especially in intensive nursery and greenhouse production environments, because of the diversity of crop species that are grown. We have developed advanced irrigation tools that allow growers to not only better estimate daily crop water use, but use those tools to automatically schedule and apply irrigations only when necessary. This seminar will cover the basics of good system design, and illustrate some of the advanced tools we are using to halve irrigation water applications, reduce runoff and create drier environments that increase plant growth while reducing disease incidence.


Sustainable Nursery Irrigation Management Series: Part 3- Strategies to Manage Nursery Runoff

Extension publication, “W 278: Part I. Water Use in Nursery Production,” discussed the importance of and competition for water use in nursery production.
“W 279: Part II. Strategies to Increase Efficiency” covered techniques that growers can use to refine scheduling (volume and timing) and delivery of irrigation water.  This final publication in the series discusses the significance and causes of nursery irrigation runoff and offers strategies to manage runoff.
As discussed in Part I of this series, irrigation can contribute to nursery runoff. While growers generally aim to apply 1 inch of water per day, field studies show that  growers actually apply as little as 0.3 and as much as 1.3 inches per day. The greater the volume of water applied, the greater the potential for runoff. Runoff, or more  precisely, surface runoff, is defined as water moving over the surface of saturated soil. Runoff can cause erosion and carry pathogens and pollutants, such as pesticides, petroleum products, soil, fecal contaminants and nutrients that may contaminate ground and surface water. Agricultural runoff and its link to eutrophication in surface  waters led to legislative action affecting agriculture producers in recent years, including the Neuse River watershed in North Carolina and the Chesapeake Bay.

Sustainable Nursery Irrigation Management Series: Part 2- Strategies to Increase Crop Irrigation Efficiency

Nursery irrigation management is a major concern for many nursery producers, especially container producers. Extension publication, “W 278: Part I. Water Use in  Nursery Production,” discussed competition for water and gave a general overview of water use in nurseries. Part II discusses strategies to increase irrigation efficiency. Because irrigation is so critical to container production and most of the water associated with nursery production is applied to container plants, strategies are discussed  largely in the context of container production.
Growers must make many irrigation management decisions on a daily basis, including when to irrigate, how much water to apply, which plants to irrigate and how to  maximize efficiency. They also must plan for and manage water supplies in order to meet local and state water regulations (Figure 1). Increasingly, competition for water  resources is affecting how these decisions are made.

Sustainable Nursery Irrigation Management Series: Part 1 – Water Use in Nursery Production

Water is essential to plant life and is a critical input to nursery crop production. For plants, water is used in temperature regulation, as a carrier for nutrients and plant hormones, and is the hydraulic force behind growth. Water is taken up by plant roots and is lost to the environment through the stomates and the leaf cuticle. A water deficit can negatively affect plant growth, plant health and the amount of time needed to grow a crop to a marketable size.
Irrigation can shorten the production period for field nursery crops and increase quality, which has a positive impact on nursery profitability. Because the nursery  industry has shifted from primarily field-produced crops to container-produced crops, the need for irrigation is increasing. Over 75 percent of nursery crop value (gross  farm gate) in 17 of the major nursery producing states is currently grown in containers (USDA 2009). Container nursery production is not possible without the use of  irrigation.

Register Now for the 2012 Irrigation Show and Education Conference!


Registration is now open for the 2012 Irrigation Show and Education Conference, Nov. 2 – 6, Orlando, Fla.! Early-bird registration at discounted rates will be available through Oct. 5. The Irrigation Show is more than just an annual trade show – it’s a source of valuable information for industry professionals looking to stay up-to-date on industry innovations, learn best practices, make new business contacts and prepare for the future. Whether you’re a manufacturer, dealer, contractor or grower, the Irrigation Show in Orlando will help you drive solutions for your business and your customers.

While the Irrigation Show means business, we also want you to enjoy your time in Orlando. In addition to discounts on area attractions, this year’s show offers opening and closing night parties and several networking events to make your experience in Orlando as enjoyable as it is essential to improving your business. Click here to register now! To learn more, visit the show web site.

Become Certified in Orlando

Get ahead of the competition by taking any of IA’s certification exams. Register here by Oct. 19 to take advantage of early bird discounts.