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Harrison Hughes

Colorado State Univ. recently underwent the development of a new all university core curriculum. All faculty were encouraged to submit proposals for new courses or revised courses, which would be reviewed for inclusion under specified categories. Basic Horticulture was redesigned te emphasize the scientific method, the understanding between science and society, and the use of handson and inquiry-based instruction in the laboratory. Horticultural Science is now an applied science course that includes the use of hypothesis formulation, experimentation, observation, data collection, summation and presentation in scientific format of reports of at least three laboratory exercises, as well as extensive general observation and presentation in both written and oral format. It teaches science in the context of everyday interaction with the environment in which the student lives, the interior and exterior plants that surrounds the student at CSU, and the controversies as well as the health aspects that surround the production of foods derived from plants that require intensive cultivation. Examples of such issues include sustainability, the organic movement, genetically modified organisms, ground water pollution form overfertilization, and water usage for landscaping and golf courses in a water short region. A review of the revisions as noted above and the use of technology in teaching the course will be presented.

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Clayton L. Rugh, Scott A. Merkle, and Richard B. Meagher

The use of plants to stabilize, reduce, or detoxify aquatic and terrestrial pollution is known as phytoremediation. We have employed a molecular genetic approach for the development of potentially phytoremediative species using a bacterial gene for ionic mercury detoxification. One gene of the bacterial mercury resistance operon, merA, codes for mercuric ion reductase. This enzyme catalyzes the reduction of toxic, ionic mercury to volatile, elemental mercury having far lower toxicity. Early attempts to confer Hg++ resistance to plants using the wildtype merA gene were unsuccessful. We hypothesized the highly GC-skewed codon usage was ineffective for efficient plant gene expression, and sequence modification would be necessary to confer merA gene activity and ionic mercury resistance in plants. A directed mutagenesis strategy is being used to develop modified merA gene constructs for transformation and analysis in plants species. Transgenic Arabidopsis and yellow-poplar plants having modified merA codon usage display Hg++-resistance. Arabidopsis plants with modified merA were observed to evolve ≈4 times the quantity of Hg0 from aqueous Hg++ in controlled experiments. In contrast, plants with unaltered merA coding sequences display unstable and inactivated gene expression. Our progress towards further merA modification and transgenic plant development will be reported. Additionally, the theoretical phytoremediative benefits and potential advantages of merA-expressing plant species will be discussed as part of our long-term goals.

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Marsha Ann Bower, David H. Trinklein, and John M. Brown

Recent trends in greenhouse container production suggest using ebb and flow irrigation for water conservation and pollution control. A major problem in this system is management of soil borne pathogens. Some species of Trichoderma, a beneficial fungi, are known to control Pythium and Phytopthora in container production. This study investigates the potential of applying a Trichoderma conidial spore suspension in an ebb and flow irrigation system. Trichoderma conidia were collected from culture and placed in 101 l stock solution tanks at 10-2 and 10-4 colony forming units (CFU) per ml. Six inch container grown Dendranthema grandiflora `Delano', were irrigated as needed. To determine Trichoderma density in the root environment, soil samples were acquired from the container at 7 day intervals. Results showed that initial population densities of 10-4 CFU/ml were required to achieve adequate container populations to control disease after one irrigation. This study successfully demonstrated that Trichoderma could be dispersed through irrigation water into container plants in an ebb and flow system.

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C.M. Geraldson

The gradient concept is designed with a soluble source of N–K banded on the soil bed surface in conjunction with a continuing source of water that synchronizes the nutrient–water input with rate of removal by the root. By placing the N–K on the surface rather than conventionally in the bed, nutrient movement to the root shifts from mass flow to diffusion. Nutrients that move by mass flow are a function of water requirement and potentially a source of nutritional instability. With the shift to movement by diffusion, nutrients move independently of the water to replace those removed from the gradient by the root. The gradient with a continuing nutritional stability replaces the variable and limited stability potential of the soil. Commercial tomato yields in Florida more than doubled with the shift to the gradient-mulch procedure. A containerized version of the concept (The EarthBox™) has been most successful for the home gardener and substantiates the validity of the gradient. Most innovative procedures with the gradient as the buffer component minimize pollution, require minimal management, and use minimal water with microirrigation or an enclosed system. To better understand the gradient concept and utilize the procedure, it may be necessary to consider the procedure as a nutritional paradigm shift.

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C.M. Geraldson

The Earth Box is made of recycled plastic and designed to maintain a water table. A nutritional gradient is initiated with N–K fertilizer applied on the surface of the soil or media contained in the box. The box is designed to facilitate the functioning of a nutritional procedure known as the gradient concept. Basically, the concept synchronizes the nutrient/water input with removal, providing stability and nutritional predictability to the ionic composition of the soil solution. Crop response (yields and, especially, quality) with the Earth Box has been most positive, indicative of an optimal nutritional precision. The positive response is also evident in the field—average tomato yields in Florida more than doubled with the inception of the gradient-mulch system (1970s). the gradient as the dominant nutritional component eliminates the soil (type and/or quantity)–plant–season as nutritional variables. The Earth Box with minimal water, minimal pollution, minimal management, and the potential for a minimal unit cost could be the basis of a globally sustainable production system.

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Michael A. Schnelle, Sharon L. von Broembsen, and Michael D. Smolen

A comprehensive educational program focusing on water quality protection was developed for the Oklahoma nursery industry. The program focused on best management practices to limit pesticides and nutrients in irrigation runoff and on capture and recycle technology as a pollution prevention strategy. Key professionals from the departments of entomology and plant pathology, biosystems and agricultural engineering, and horticulture formed a multidisciplinary team within the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service (OCES). During 1998, water quality workshops were conducted on-site throughout Oklahoma at leading nursery operations. These workshops were designed to highlight best management practices (BMPs) that were already in place as a foundation on which to implement additional BMPs with the assistance of the OCES team. Training workshops were augmented by written publications, by web-based information, and by videotape instruction. These provided for ongoing education beyond the formal grant period. The written materials included a water quality handbook for nurseries and a fact sheet on capturing and recycling irrigation runoff. The water quality handbook was also made available on the web and a website on disease management for nurseries using recycling irrigation was provided. The water quality video, highlighting successful growers, was designed to show aspects of both best management practices and capture and recycle technology. Results of these 3-year extension efforts will be discussed.

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Renee Keydoszius and Mary Haque

During the fall semester of 2003, a Clemson University introductory landscape design class collaborated with South Carolina Botanical Gardens staff and coordinators of Sprouting Wings, an after school gardening program for at risk children, to design an exploratory Children's Garden within the Botanical Gardens. Project methodology included site selection, research, site analysis, conceptual diagrams, preliminary designs, and full color renderings of final designs. Students periodically presented their progress on the project to the clients in order to receive feedback and advice. One of the thirteen themed gardens designed is the Wonders of Water Garden. Project goals were to create a center for environmental education addressing current issues in water quality such as pollution from industries and runoff, erosion, stream degradation, and sedimentation resulting from land clearing and development. Visitors will be able to observe and learn about various environmental factors affecting native plant and animal life. The garden will help to teach environmental stewardship and understanding of general aquatic ecology. An observation deck, serpentine bridge through a bog garden, and a bridge crossing a waterfall stream will allow close observation of native aquatic plant and animal life. The Wonders of Water Garden design includes the bog garden and carnivorous garden that border two pools connected by a stream of small waterfalls which may be used to create awareness of current water quality issues and serve as a model to teach visitors the importance of water and aquatic plants in the environment.

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Winand K. Hock

One of the major misconceptions in contemporary society is the widespread belief that our food supply is unsafe. The public's perception of risk is quite different than scientific assessment of risk. While scientists see microbial contamination as the key issue (100 to 10,000X greater risk than from exposure to pesticide residues), consumers appear to be most concerned about the effects of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers in the food they buy. Consumers equate “synthetic” with harmful or bad and “natural” with safe or good, yet they ignore the fact that 99.9% of all pesticides humans are exposed to are naturally occurring. Americans eat approximately 1.5 g. of natural pesticides per person per day, or about 10,000 times more than synthetic pesticide residues. Although few plant toxins have been tested for carcinogenicity so far, of those tested about half are rodent carcinogens. Contrary to public perception, environmental pollution accounts for only 2% of all cancers. By contrast, smoking, diet and other personal lifestyle choices account for more than 75%.

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J.R. Heckman, W.T. Hlubik, D.J. Prostak, and J.W. Paterson

Research was conducted with sweet corn (Zea mays L.) to evaluate the presidedress soil NO3 test (PSNT) originally developed for use on field corn on a wide range of New Jersey soils. Soil NO3-N concentrations reflected differences in N availability due to manure or preplant N application. The relationship between soil NO3-N concentration and relative yield of marketable ears was examined using Cate–Nelson analysis to define the PSNT critical level. Soil NO3-N concentrations >25 mg·kg–1 were associated with relative yields at ≥92%. The success rate for the PSNT critical level was 85% for predicting whether sidedress N was needed. Including NH4-N in the soil analysis did not improve the accuracy of the soil test for predicting whether sidedress N was needed. Although the PSNT is quite accurate in identifying N-sufficient sites, it appears to offer only limited guidance in making N-fertilizer rate predictions. The PSNT is most useful on manured soils, which frequently have sufficient N. The test likely will help decrease the practice of applying “insurance” fertilizer N and the ensuing potential for NO3 pollution of the environment.

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Tiangen Wang and Stephen K. O'Hair

Concerns relating to pollution from nitrogen fertilizers leaching into ground water are increasing. This is especially important in southern Florida because the pollution threatens fragile ecosystems in Biscayne Bay, and the two National Parks that abut agricultural areas. The current research is focused on the development of an automatic system which can monitor \batchmode \documentclass[fleqn,10pt,legalpaper]{article} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amsmath} \pagestyle{empty} \begin{document} \(\mathrm{NO}_{3}^{-}\) \end{document} and \batchmode \documentclass[fleqn,10pt,legalpaper]{article} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amsmath} \pagestyle{empty} \begin{document} \(\mathrm{NH}_{4}^{+}\) \end{document} leaching from plant nursery pots. \batchmode \documentclass[fleqn,10pt,legalpaper]{article} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amsmath} \pagestyle{empty} \begin{document} \(\mathrm{NO}_{3}^{-}\) \end{document} and \batchmode \documentclass[fleqn,10pt,legalpaper]{article} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amsmath} \pagestyle{empty} \begin{document} \(\mathrm{NH}_{4}^{+}\) \end{document} electrodes and a load cell were used for real-time measurements of \batchmode \documentclass[fleqn,10pt,legalpaper]{article} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amsmath} \pagestyle{empty} \begin{document} \(\mathrm{NO}_{3}^{-}\) \end{document}, \batchmode \documentclass[fleqn,10pt,legalpaper]{article} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amsmath} \pagestyle{empty} \begin{document} \(\mathrm{NH}_{4}^{+}\) \end{document}, and leachate volume. The leachate was directed to pass the sensing areas of \batchmode \documentclass[fleqn,10pt,legalpaper]{article} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amsmath} \pagestyle{empty} \begin{document} \(\mathrm{NO}_{3}^{-}\) \end{document}, reference, pH, and \batchmode \documentclass[fleqn,10pt,legalpaper]{article} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amsmath} \pagestyle{empty} \begin{document} \(\mathrm{NH}_{4}^{+}\) \end{document} electrodes. It was collected and weighed in a container placed on a load cell. The analog signals from the electrodes and load cell were digitized through data acquisition technology using a 16-bit A/D converter and a self-developed software program. With this system the volume of the leachate and concentrations of \batchmode \documentclass[fleqn,10pt,legalpaper]{article} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amsmath} \pagestyle{empty} \begin{document} \(\mathrm{NO}_{3}^{-}\) \end{document} and \batchmode \documentclass[fleqn,10pt,legalpaper]{article} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amsmath} \pagestyle{empty} \begin{document} \(\mathrm{NH}_{4}^{+}\) \end{document} in the leachate were determined in situ. Based on this design, the dynamics of \batchmode \documentclass[fleqn,10pt,legalpaper]{article} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amsmath} \pagestyle{empty} \begin{document} \(\mathrm{NO}_{3}^{-}\) \end{document} and \batchmode \documentclass[fleqn,10pt,legalpaper]{article} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amsmath} \pagestyle{empty} \begin{document} \(\mathrm{NH}_{4}^{+}\) \end{document} leaching from pots can be observed. This system can be used to 1) determine soil (or media) holding capacity of \batchmode \documentclass[fleqn,10pt,legalpaper]{article} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amsmath} \pagestyle{empty} \begin{document} \(\mathrm{NO}_{3}^{-}\) \end{document} and \batchmode \documentclass[fleqn,10pt,legalpaper]{article} \usepackage{amssymb} \usepackage{amsfonts} \usepackage{amsmath} \pagestyle{empty} \begin{document} \(\mathrm{NH}_{4}^{+}\) \end{document}, 2) evaluate the effects of nitrogen fertilizer formulations on water quality, 3) develop best management practices of nitrogen application in containerized plant production, and 4) determine the soil-holding capacity to optimize the use of water. The advantages of the developed system are 1) low labor cost for sample collection and analysis and 2) high measurement resolution resulting from a minimization errors that occur during sampling and other manual operations.