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Commercial Horticulture

In the highly populated northeastern United States, managed grass covered surfaces (utility turf, lawns, parklands, sports fields, etc) collectively comprise an integral part of our communities. Turf management practices have broad implications for water resources, property values, energy consumption, greenhouse gas mitigation, safety of youth and adult sports participants, and the economic viability of businesses and communities. In addition, turf management materials present potential risks from human and non-target exposure.

The goals of this project are to: 1) study and improve microbial control options in IPM strategies for: a. arge acreage crops (alfalfa, corn, dry beans, potatoes, and small grains) b. orchard systems (fruits and nuts) c. small fruits and vegetables (blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and vegetables) and d. urban and natural landscapes, rangelands, and nurseries.

Urbanization has increased demand for water and impaired aquatic ecosystems, threatening water resources worldwide. Climate change and more frequent droughts are expected to exacerbate this situation. Residential landscaping, especially lawns, are a major factor in increasing domestic water use.

Outreach efforts have been made to promote outdoor residential water conservation and promote methods that provide ecosystem benefits. These include water harvesting using rain barrels, infiltrating storm water using rain gardens, and landscaping with native plants.

With increased pressure to utilize more practical, ecological and economically feasible strategies in the management of turfgrasses, additional research is needed to identify best management practices aimed at preservation of water resources.

Improving water management is of increasing importance in horticultural operations. A growing global population and changes in water availability will mean that less water will be available for ornamental plant production. There are also a growing number of federal and state regulations regarding water use and runoff from production areas. Better irrigation and fertilization management practices will help to limit the environmental impact of container plant production by limiting the runoff of water and nutrients from nurseries.

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