Nitrate concentrations in the springs and rivers in northern Florida have been increasing, and several state agencies are interested in implementing nitrogen management programs on farms to reduce N entering the groundwater. Watermelon was grown in the first season of a six-season project under various cultural and fertilization programs to investigate the relationship of N management with N leaching. Treatments were a factorial arrangement of two cultural systems (polyethylene mulch with drip-irrigated beds and unmulched, overhead irrigated beds) and three N fertilization programs [N at the extension-recommended rate, N at the commercial-watermelon-producer rate (1.5 times recommended), or N at the recommended rate with 50% of N from poultry manure]. Nitrate in the soil beneath the watermelon crop was monitored at the 2-m depth with porous-crop suction lysimeters and soil sampling. Yields were greater with the mulch/drip irrigation system compared with the unmulched/sprinkler cultural system; however, fertilization program had no effect on yield. Nitrate-N concentrations in the soil solution at the 2-m depth with all fertilizer treatments were only slightly elevated (3 to 5 mg·L-1) above that in the unfertilized soil (< 1.0 mg·L-1) early in the season when no rain fell. Later in the season, soil solution nitrate-N concentrations at the 2-m depth increased to >50 mg·L -1 with the unmulched treatment and with the greater fertilization rate. Polyethylene mulch, drip irrigation, and recommended N rate combined to maintain groundwater nitrate-N concentration below 10 mg·L-1 for most of the production season and only slightly above 10 mg·L-1 during the summer off-season when rainfall was frequent.
Modeling the growth of field-grown tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum Mill.) should assist researchers and commercial growers to outline optimal crop management strategies for specific locations and production systems. A generic crop-growth model (CROPGRO) was previously adapted to simulate the growth of fresh-market tomato under field conditions. Plant growth and development of field-grown tomato, and fruit yields, will be outlined and compared to model predictions for a number of locations in Florida, nitrogen fertilizer rates, and irrigation management practices. Possible application of the model to quantify effects of crop management on crop production will be discussed using simulated yield values for a wide range of environmental conditions.