Involvement of Nursery Operators and Educators in Development of Fertilization and Irrigation Regulation

in HortTechnology
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  • 1 University of Florida, IFAS, PO Box 110670 Gainesville, FL 32611

Nursery operators had the opportunity to participate in a process to develop a voluntary incentive-based regulation that consummated the consensus of nursery and regulatory personnel regarding the best fertilization and irrigation cultural practice information available for producing plants in containers. Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), which has statutory authority to develop and adopt practices by administrative rule, administered the process, and they relied on university extension personnel to provide education so nursery operators would be prepared to implement practices consistent with the regulation. Nursery operators who voluntarily implemented these practices received a waiver of liability from the recovery costs associated with the cleanup of groundwater contaminated with nitrate nitrogen if each of the following activities had taken place: 1) a notice of intent was filed with FDACS to implement accepted practices; 2) practices based on consensus of the industry were used and guidelines followed; and 3) fertilization and irrigation records were maintained. Participation in an industry-driven regulatory program where nursery operators agreed to use the best cultural practices available prior to the identification of a specific groundwater issue was a significant proactive step for the industry.

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