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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.

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Stephen K. O'Hair and Tiangen Wang

Controlled-Released Fertilizer (CRF) has a great potential for applications in the nursery container industry. However, the specific mechanisms of the control are proprietary. The longevity claimed by manufacturers are unclear. The longevity of one CRF is claimed to be 2 to 3 months at 80 °F, resulting in a deviation of 30%. Thus, the actual release rate will have a 30% deviation from the claimed longevity. A preliminary study was conducted to test the longevity of two types of RCFs. 1.00 g (7.7% NO- 3-N, fast release) and 1.30 g (5.9% NO- 3-N slow release) of CRF was added to 500 ml distilled water in separate flasks and stirred continuously at a low speed during measurement period. A nitrate electrode and a reference electrode were set in the solution. The nitrate electrode responded to the increase in nitrate concentration caused by nitrate release from he CRFs. The response analog signal from the nitrate sensor was input to a 16-bit analog/digital converter with 1-minute interval for each measurement. The results indicated that 9% of the nitrate from the fast CRF (2- to 3-month longevity) was released in 10 hours. About 11.5% of the nitrate from the slow CRF (8- to 9-month longevity) was released in 260 hours. Based on the observed release rates, a 2- to 3-month longevity CRF will last about 111 hours in the stirred distilled water at room temperature. A CRF with 8 to 9 month longevity will last about 94.2 days. Even though field conditions are different from the experimental conditions, the real longevity of CRF in the fields may have to be further investigated. In the tropical southern Florida climate, the release rates of nutrients from CRFs are likely to be enhanced.

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Hector R. Valenzuela, Stephen K. O'Hair, and Bruce Schaffer

Cocoyam was grown in 100%, 50%, or 30% daylight to determine the effect of light intensity on growth characteristics at various stages of plant development. Beginning ≈ 2 months after planting, growth was monitored at three or four monthly intervals. Plants grown in shade had more petiole and leaf lamina growth and extension, as well as increased top: corm plus cormel ratio (dry-weight basis), than plants grown in 100% daylight. Shade-grown plants had a higher leaf area index and specific leaf area than sun-grown plants. Sun-grown plants had a higher net assimilation rate and specific leaf density than shade-grown plants. Linear equations were developed to predict lamina area through measurements of leaf lamina width and length, petiole length, and lamina dry weight.

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Mary Lamberts, Stephen K. O'Hair, George Hochmuth, and Edward Hanlon

Seventy-five percent (75%) of U.S. produced winter snap beans are grown on limestone soils in southern Dade County, Florida Since this crop requires 60-70 days from planting to harvest, growers need information to make changes in fertilizer practices on an almost instantaneous basis. As part of a study to calibrate soil tests with yield responses to different levels of applied fertilizers, plant sap quick tests are being calibrated with laboratory analyses of whole leaf samples. Beans were grown at two locations -- in a grower's field and at the University of Florida Tropical Research & Education Center (TREC). Samples were taken simultaneously for both plant sap quick tests using petioles and for whole leaf tissue analyses. Results and how these have been extended to local growers will be presented.

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Hector R. Valenzuela, Stephen K. O'Hair, and Bruce Schaffer

The effects of shade during leaf development on photosynthetic activity of cocoyam [Xanthosoma sagittifolium (L.) Schott] were investigated. Net gas exchange and N and chlorophyll concentrations were determined for cocoyam leaves growing in 30%, 50%, or 100% sunlight. Net CO2 assimilation (A) and water use efficiency (WUE) were greater for plants grown in 100% sunlight than for plants grown in less sunlight. Substomatal CO2 concentration increased with increased shading. Stomatal conductance (gs) and transpiration (E) did not vary significantly among treatments. Diurnal paterns for A were positively correlated with gs, lamina temperature, relative humidity, and photosynthetic photon flux (PPF). Lamina N concentrations, determined on lamina dry weight and lamina area bases, increased with increased PPF. Shade plants (30% and 50% sunlight) had greater chlorophyll: N ratios (dry-weight basis) and greater lamina area: lamina dry weight ratios than 100% sunlight-grown plants, which indicates increased photosynthate and N allocation to leaves of shade plants and maximization of light interception.

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Hector R. Valenzuela, Bruce Schaffer, and Stephen K. O'Hair

Net gas exchange and growth were determined for cocoyam [Xanthosoma sagittifolium (L.) Schott] growing in 30%, 50%, and 100% sunlight and fertilized with 0 or 475 mg N/kg nutrient solution. Interactions between N and shade were observed for lamina area per plant, top : corm ratio, corm weight, transpiration (E), stomatal conductance (g,), and lamina N and chlorophyll concentrations. When N treatments were pooled, shade-grown plants (30% and 50% sunlight) had greater lamina areas, lamina and petiole biomass, top: corm (fresh weight) ratios, and corm fresh weights than plants grown in full sunlight. All of these criteria also had higher values for plants that received the N-fertilizer solution (+ N) than for plants that received the N-free solution (- N), when shade treatments were pooled. When N treatments were pooled, 100%-sunlight plants had greater net CO2assimilation (A) rates than shade plants. Water-use efficiency (WUE), A, g., and E for 100%-sunlight-grown plants were higher for + N than for - N plants. For shade plants, however, A and E were similar between N treatments. When N treatments were pooled, shade plants had a greater lamina chlorophyll concentration on a dry-weight basis than 100%-sunlight plants, whereas content on an area basis was similar among shade treatments. Among shade treatments, chlorophyll contents on an area and dry-weight basis were higher for + N than for - N plants. Plants grown in 100% sunlight had higher lamina N concentrations (area and dry-weight bases) than shade plants. The interactions between N and shade showed that cocoyam response to N depends on incident photosynthetic photon fluxes during growth.

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Roberto Núñez-Elisea, Bruce Schaffer, Mongi Zekri, Stephen K. O'Hair, and Jonathan H. Crane

Most tropical fruit trees in southern Florida are grown in calcareous gravelly soil that is mechanically trenched to a depth of about 50 cm (about 20 inches). Fruit trees are often planted at the intersections of perpendicular trenches to provide space for root development. Tree root systems are concentrated in the top 10 to 20 cm (about 4 to 8 inches) of soil. Extreme soil rockiness has made it difficult to obtain consistent and reliable measurements of soil water status and to collect soil samples for constructing soil-water characteristic curves in the laboratory. Multisensor capacitance probes andlow-tension [0 to 40 kPa (centibars) (0 to 5.8 lb/inch2)] tensiometers were installed adjacent to star fruit (Averrhoa carambola L.) and avocado (Persea americana Mill.) trees in trenches to simultaneously measure volumetric soil water content and soil matric potential in situ. Capacitance probes consisted of four sensors centered at depths of 10, 20, 30, and 50 cm (3.9, 7.9, 11.8, and 19.7 inches). Tensiometers were installed at 10- and 30-cm depths, adjacent to the 10- and 30-cm deep capacitance sensors. Measurements obtained with both instruments were used to generate in situ soil-water characteristic curves. Rock fragments were more abundant at 30 cm than at 10 cm (71% to 73% versus 26% to 38% of bulk soil volume, respectively) soil depth, which limited the precision of tensiometers at the greater depth. In situ soil water characteristic curves for the 10-cm soil depth can be used to determine parameters needed for irrigation scheduling by techniques such as the water budget method.

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Mary Lamberts, Stephen K. O'Hair, Juan Carranza, George Hochmuth, and Edward Hanlon

Trials to determine crop nutrients for four vegetable crops grown on the limestone soils of Dade County, Fla., have been conducted in growers' fields to duplicate commercial growing conditions. This has increased grower participation in the experimental process. The four vegetable crops are snap beans, Irish potatoes, sweet corn, and malanga (a.k.a. yautia or tannia, Xanthosoma sagittifolium Schott). The discussion will focus on grower participation in various critical decision-making activities: a) location of plots in a commercial field, b) placement of fertilizers, c) possible problems with Restricted Entry Intervals, d) harvest determinations, and e) grading criteria and quality assessment.

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Mary Lamberts, Teresa Olczyk, Stephen K. O'Hair, Juan Carranza, Herbert H. Bryan, Edward Hanlon, and George Hochmuth

A baseline survey was conducted to determine grower fertilizer management practices for five vegetable crops: beans, malanga, potatoes, sweet corn, and squash. This was done in conjunction with a 3-year replicated fertility trial with four vegetable crops (1993–94 through 1995–96) in the Homestead area. Questions included: fertilizer rates and timing, source(s) of fertilizer recommendations, soil and tissue testing, irrigation, changes in practices, summer cover crops, rock plowing, spacing, and type of fertilizer used. Survey results will be presented.

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Mary Lamberts, Teresa Olczyk, Stephen K. O'Hair, Juan Carranza, Herbert H. Bryan, George Hochmuth, and Edward Hanlon

Replicated fertility trials with four vegetable crops on the limestone soils of Dade County, Fla., have been conducted for 3 years (1993–94 through 1995–96). The purpose was 1) to determine crop nutrient requirements, 2) to calibrate a soil testing model, and 3) to develop additional information for plant sap quick tests. The crops included snap beans, Irish potatoes, sweet corn, and malanga (a.k.a. yautia or tannia, Xanthosoma sagittifolium Schott). Another two field demonstrations using reduced rates of phosphorus on tomatoes were conducted in 1995–96. The involvement of the local fertilizer industry in these trials and grower outreach efforts will be discussed.