Spring Recovery of Wetland Plants Affects Efficacy of Nutrient Removal from Nursery Runoff

in HortScience
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  • 1 Texas A&M University, Department of Horticultural Sciences, College Station, TX 77843-2133

The nursery/greenhouse industry is the fastest growing segment of U.S. agriculture. Consumer demand for excellent product quality requires luxury applications of water and agricultural chemicals. These cultural practices tend to yield significant volumes of runoff rich in nutrients and pesticides. A capture and recycle system at the Nursery/Floral Crops Research and Education Center at Texas A&M University was fitted with 12 subsurface flow (SSF) and 12 free-surface flow (FSF) wetland cells. Constructed wetland cells provided substantial reduction of runoff nutrient concentrations without increasing electrical conductivity, an indicator of salinity. Growth of Iris pseudacorus L. and Canna ×generalis L.H. Bailey during spring growth was greater in the FSF wetland cells, while that of Colocasia sp. Fabr. was greater in the SSF wetland cells. Equisetum hyemale L. grew equally well in both cell types. Direct reuse of nursery runoff reduced the number of Ilex vomitoria Ait. `Nana' reaching marketable size in 2.3-L containers. Interactions among irrigation water sources and container media types for growth indices occurred for Juniperus procumbens `Green Mound' and I. vomitoria `Nana', but not for Raphiolepis indica L. `Carmelita'.

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