The availability of adequate irrigation water quantity and quality is an increasingly important issue affecting the green industry. Nursery and greenhouse growers are uniquely positioned to conserve water given the substantial amount they use (Lamm et al., 2017). Most nurseries irrigate from wells, municipal supply, or surface sources (Hodges et al., 2008), and the amount of water available for irrigating ornamental plants is expected to decline and become more expensive (Beeson, et al., 2004; Fulcher et al., 2016; Mathers et al., 2005). However, most nursery growers have increased, not decreased their water use over time (Fulcher et al., 2016; Hodges et al., 2008).
Dennis et al. (2010) reported that just less than half of U.S. nursery and greenhouse growers were using conservation measures in applying irrigation. Some of the conservation techniques available to nursery and greenhouse growers include precise application of water through appropriate irrigation timing, microirrigation, and reusing runoff water (Mathers et al., 2005). Growers need to have adequate knowledge about water conservation techniques before they will adopt them (Rockwell and Bennett, 2004). The innovation-decision process explains why people will implement an innovation once they know about it, understand how it works, and develop a favorable opinion (Rogers, 2003). Therefore, the decision to implement a water conservation technology needs to be proceeded by creating awareness that the technology exists, knowledge of how it works, and a favorable attitude toward it (Rogers, 2003).
Once a water conservation technique is implemented, a grower will either decide to continue or discontinue using it for several possible reasons during what is known as the confirmation stage of the innovation-decision process (Rogers, 2003). Growers need to continue using conservation innovations to have the greatest impact on water availability. Discontinuance can result when individuals believe that some other innovation is better or when they become dissatisfied with the innovation (Rogers, 2003). An understanding of knowledge levels along with water conservation technique implementation can be used to guide educational strategies, and identifying the rate of discontinuance may be equally as important as implementation (Rogers, 2003).
The research described herein was conducted to identify opportunities to promote water conservation and to inform water conservation education programs targeting U.S. nursery and greenhouse growers. The specific objectives that guided the study were to evaluate grower knowledge level of water conservation technologies, identify those water conservation technologies growers had previously implemented, and establish which water conservation technologies were still in use by U.S. nursery and greenhouse growers.
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