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  • Author or Editor: Rosa E. Raudales x
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Chlorine is a disinfectant commonly used to treat water. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) has set a standard limit of up to 4 mg·L−1 chlorine for drinking water. The objective of this project was to identify chlorine phytotoxicity thresholds on ‘Rex’ lettuce (Lactuca sativa) when the water source contained chlorine levels within the USEPA standard limits. The nutrient solution to grow lettuce was prepared with reverse osmosis–treated water treated with 0, 0.5, 1, 1.5, 2, and 4 mg·L−1 chlorine and then fertilizers were added. Lettuce plants were grown in a deep-water culture hydroponic system. Visual toxicity symptoms on leaves, relative leaf greenness, and fresh and dry biomass were measured. Our results indicate that irrigation water sources with ≥1 mg·L−1 chlorine used to prepare nutrient solutions can cause phytotoxicity in lettuce plants in just 3 days. Compared with the untreated control, lettuce shoot biomass was lower by 30%, 55%, 66%, 83%, and 92% at 0.5, 1, 1.5, 2, and 4 mg·L−1 of chlorine, respectively. Water sources with ≥ 1 mg·L−1 chlorine can cause significant marketable yield reduction in lettuce grown in deep-water culture.

Open Access

Paclobutrazol is a plant growth retardant commonly used on greenhouse crops. Residues from paclobutrazol applications can accumulate in recirculated irrigation water. Given that paclobutrazol has a long half-life and potential biological activity in parts per billion concentrations, it would be desirable to measure paclobutrazol concentration in captured irrigation supplies. However, there are no standard protocols for collecting this type of sample. The objective of this research was to determine if sample container material or storage temperature affect paclobutrazol stability over time. In two experiments, paclobutrazol was mixed in concentrations ranging from 0.04 to 0.2 mg·L−1 and stored in polyethylene, clear glass, or amber glass containers at temperatures of either 4 or 20 °C. Paclobutrazol concentration was measured at 3, 14, and 30 days after the start of each experiment. Across the two experiments, there were no consistent trends in reduction of paclobutrazol concentration with respect to container material or storage temperature. In the first experiment, there was an average of 5% reduction across all treatments from day 0 to 30, whereas in the second experiment, concentration did not decrease over the 30-day time period. These data suggest that paclobutrazol is stable in collected water samples for at least 30 days, and that either glass or polyethylene containers are suitable for collecting greenhouse water samples for analysis of paclobutrazol concentration. A minimum volume of 100 mL was determined to be the optimum to analyze water samples with diverse paclobutrazol concentrations.

Free access

A wide range of water-treatment technologies is used to control waterborne microbial problems in greenhouse and nursery irrigation. An online modified Delphi survey was carried out to identify the perceived key attributes that growers should consider when selecting among water-treatment technologies and to characterize a list of 14 technologies based on those same attributes. The expert panel consisted of ornamental plant growers (n = 43), water-treatment industry suppliers (n = 28), and research and extension faculty (n = 34). The survey was delivered to the expert panel in two rounds. Response rate was 59% and 60% for the first and second rounds, respectively. Growers identified control of plant disease, algae, and biofilm as primary reasons for adopting technologies, whereas mandatory regulation was not a major reason for adoption. All 23 attributes (related to cost, system size, control of microorganisms, chemistry, ease of use, and regulation) were perceived to be important when selecting between water-treatment technologies. Injectable sanitizing chemicals such as chlorination were considered to have low capital cost, unlike technologies that required installation of more complex equipment, such as heat treatment, hydrogen peroxide, ozone, reverse osmosis, or ultraviolet radiation. Filtration (excluding membrane filtration) was the only technology not perceived to be effective to control microorganisms. Filtration and copper were not considered effective to control human food-safety pathogens. Ozone was rated the highest as a technology that removes or oxidizes agrochemicals. Chemical water treatments, as opposed to physical water treatments, were perceived to be sensitive to water quality parameters and to have residual effect through the irrigation. Chlorine gas was perceived to be the only technology for which regulatory permission would be an obstacle. All technologies were perceived to be effective in water with low electrical conductivity (EC) or in solutions containing water-soluble fertilizers. This survey documents perceived attributes of water-treatment technologies, which are most useful where experimental data are not yet available. Research and outreach needs were highlighted by cases where perceived attributes differed from available experimental data or where there was a lack of consensus between experts.

Full access

Increasing demand on agricultural water resources have caused a greater need for the use of municipal recycled wastewater (MRW) globally. However, in the United States, greenhouse growers have been slow to use it in their greenhouse operations. In this study, we seek to understand the factors that motivate and limit use of MRW among US growers. Using national survey data from 2019 through 2020, we developed a logistic regression model to understand the many factors influencing growers’ willingness to use MRW on food crops. We find that MRW quality is a primary concern and that growers’ willingness to use MRW is shaped by their direct and indirect knowledge of MRW, garnered from their own and others’ experiences using it. Given these findings, improving adoption of MRW requires collective experiential learning opportunities that gather target audiences with educators, policymakers, end users, and local authorities to simultaneously provide hands-on experience tailored to growers’ particular knowledge and concerns with feedback from peers.

Open Access

The recent increased market demand for locally grown produce is generating interest in the application of techniques developed for controlled environment agriculture (CEA) to urban agriculture (UA). Controlled environments have great potential to revolutionize urban food systems, as they offer unique opportunities for year-round production, optimizing resource-use efficiency, and for helping to overcome significant challenges associated with the high costs of production in urban settings. For urban growers to benefit from CEA, results from studies evaluating the application of controlled environments for commercial food production should be considered. This review includes a discussion of current and potential applications of CEA for UA, references discussing appropriate methods for selecting and controlling the physical plant production environment, resource management strategies, considerations to improve economic viability, opportunities to address food safety concerns, and the potential social benefits from applying CEA techniques to UA. Author’s viewpoints about the future of CEA for urban food production are presented at the end of this review.

Free access