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Nutrient Management for Nursery Crops (Woody Ornamentals)

view UMass Extension's nutrient management guidelines and BMPs for other agricultural commodities and green industries.

Nursery Best Management Guide for Nursery Crops

Best Management Practices (BMPs) are guidelines intended to enable agricultural production in a profitable, environmentally-sensitive and sustainable manner. BMPs are not meant to be regulatory. BMP considerations for field and container nurseries and horticulture distribution centers include nursery layout, water management and irrigation, nutrient management, soil conservation, composting, prohibited plants, pesticide use and storage, insect, mite, disease and weed management, wildlife damage management, organic and inorganic waste management, and alternative energy and energy conservation. BMPs are adaptable for the diversity that exists within the industry. Applying these practices will help Massachusetts nurseries to become and remain healthy and profitable.

Specific sections of the guide that pertain to nutrient management:

A soil test is important for several reasons: to optimize crop production, to protect the environment from contamination by runoff and leaching of excess fertilizers, to aid in the diagnosis of plant culture problems, to improve the soil’s nutritional balance, to save money and conserve energy by applying only the amount of fertilizer needed, and to identify soils contaminated with lead or other heavy metals.

Best Management Practices (BMPs) for fertilizer applications focus on water quality and nutrient runoff as well as maximizing growth of nursery stock.

This section contains nutrient management for container nurseries. The growing media used in containers - soilless mixes - require more frequent monitoring of water and fertilizer than do field production soils.