MSU Water Research on Ornamental Crops Wins National Award
A Michigan State University-led research project focused on water conservation and improved water quality within the ornamental crops industry is the national recipient of the 2017 Experiment Station Section Award for Excellence in Multistate Research.
The award, given by the Experiment Station Committee on Organization and Policy, recognizes researchers who are conducting sustained, exemplary multistate activities and enhance the visibility of the multistate program. One of the lead investigators is Tom Fernandez, a professor in the MSU Department of Horticulture, who studies the sustainability of wholesale production nurseries, water management and water quality.
Water conservation and water quality are high priorities in the national ornamental plant industries because nearly all greenhouse crops and roughly three-quarters of nursery crops rely on irrigation.
“Drought, population changes, competition for water resources and new legislation increase the need to manage water resources more effectively and to investigate alternative sources for irrigation,” said Doug Buhler, director of MSU AgBioResearch, who nominated the project for the award. “In the nine years since its inception, this project addresses the interrelated issues regarding water management and water quality within the ornamental crop industries.”
Some key accomplishments of the project include:
- Creating management strategies to address the decreasing availability and quality of water for irrigation in the ornamental plant industries.
- Investigating water conservation methods and improving nutrient management practices to reduce usage and reduce impacts on runoff water quality.
- Discovering ways to reuse water or return clean water to the surrounding water systems. Concerns include agrichemicals, abiotic and biotic factors, substrate and nutrient management, and environmental, economic and social issues.
- Developing appropriate management strategies to mitigate urban environmental situations that degrade water resources.
The collaboration includes 31 researchers and 22 institutions across the nation. Nineteen members have served as principal investigators on 41 grants totaling more than $21.6 million from USDA National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and other sources.
The national winning project will be recognized by the Experiment Station Committee on Organization and Policy and USDA NIFA administrators during the Association of Public Land-grant Universities annual meeting in November in Washington, D.C.
An MSU-led research collaboration won this same distinction in 2016. That project focused on tree fruit research.
- Holly Whetstone, via the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources website