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  • Author or Editor: Tracy A. Irani x
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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.

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Currently, in the United States, the greenhouse industry covers more than 15,000 acres and is supported by a diverse number of firms with employee expertise that includes greenhouse manufacturing, engineering, irrigation, horticulture, IPM, sales, marketing, and business management. The growing greenhouse industry continues to be in need of highly trained undergraduates that have mastered an amalgam of scientific and business concepts necessary to be competitive in today's agricultural marketplace. Using a multidisciplinary approach we are creating a multimedia instrument for utilization in a variety of greenhouse related courses. This instrument ultimately will be available on the web for anyone to access. To ensure that our vision matches need, we have reviewed the courses offered throughout the United States at 1862, 1890, and 1994 land grant institutions. Course information collected includes; college, Dept., title, level, description, website (if available) and instructor e-mail (if available). Interestingly, there are at least 84 courses offering some aspect of greenhouse science in the U.S. Most are offered in Colleges of Agriculture or Engineering, but are housed in 17 diverse Dept.s. Examples include Dept.s of Horticulture; Agronomy and Horticulture; Agricultural Biosystems and Engineering; Plant, Soil, and Entomological Science; and Horticulture, Forestry, Landscape & Parks. This information will be utilized to focus the instructional design phase of the multimedia instrument, to contact current course instructors for feedback, and to frame future development of the resource.

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Using a multidisciplinary approach, we are creating an instrument for utilization in a variety of greenhouse related courses. We now have over 3 hours of edited and titled video segments that were obtained at different locations by the same videographer. The greenhouse businesses in Arizona, Vermont, Ohio, and Florida were chosen due to their unique business strategies, level of computerization, type of greenhouse construction, management philosophies, and climate challenges. Individual video segments are based on nine topics that were covered at each location including computers, structure, plant life cycle, and labor. The videos have been placed on a streaming media server and will be burned to a DVD. An interactive Flash-based greenhouse environment simulator is nearly complete. This instrument allows students to model greenhouse environments based on climate data from each of the four video locations. Additionally, a searchable digital repository has been established that will allow other participants to submit materials for educational use. This open source software (DSpace) has an integrated distribution license which streamlines compliance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Several hundred high quality images have already been uploaded, described and tagged. Learning assessment tools based on numerical self-evaluation and verification narratives are also being developed in conjunction with the multimedia tools. We have created a database of all the greenhouse courses at 1862, 1890, and 1994 institutions and hope to build a community of teachers that will utilize and contribute to the multimedia greenhouse collection. This community has already grown to include two international greenhouse experts who contributed interactive software for educational use.

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