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Depletion and contamination of traditional water supplies and population pressures are straining the water resources of the United States. This has placed increased emphasis on the need for water conservation through all phases of the use cycle. Objectives of this research were to: 1) Determine water use in residential, commercial, and institutional landscapes; 2) Evaluate landscape irrigation system performance; and 3) Evaluate feasibility of landscape irrigation scheduling. Beginning in 1991, water meters on 18 test sites in Lincoln, NE were read on a weekly basis. Water meter readings during the winter were used to develop a baseline on non-landscape water use. The “can test” method was used to evaluate landscape irrigation system precipitation rate and distribution efficiency. Four recording weather stations were used to estimate daily potential evapotranspiration (ETp). Lysimeters (20 cm dia. × 31 cm deep) were installed in two Kentucky bluegrass and one tall fescue landscape to estimate water use coefficients for calculating landscape evapotranspiration. Irrigation system Christiansen coefficients of uniformity ranged from .43 to .87 with scheduling coefficients ranging from 1.31 to over 15.14. Poor irrigation system performance characteristics made it difficult to schedule irrigation on estimated water use.

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Indoor Plants and Flowers”, a laboratory course for non-majors, was first offered in the spring term of 1966. The description listed in the catalog is:

“...identification, culture, propagation, and use of plants for homes, schools, offices and public buildings; principles of flower arrangement; construction of dish gardens, hanging baskets, terrariums; and the forcing of bulbs.”

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The greenhouse and nursery industry is one of the fastest growing sectors of the region's agricultural economy; however, a major problem facing this industry is a shortage of workers, particularly skilled workers. A recent national survey of commercial nursery/landscape operations listed labor shortage as the number one limitation facing the industry at the end of 2001. The target population of this project is greenhouse and nursery workers in the Gulf South. The goal of this project is to develop and identify automated systems that can be adapted by the highly diverse greenhouse and nursery industry. Adoption of this technology will improve working conditions for greenhouse and nursery workers, increase worker retention, improve worker safety, increase worker productivity, improve skill levels, and create new jobs related to servicing the machinery and instrumentation. The Coastal Research and Extension Center, in cooperation with industry leaders representing the Gulf South, has identified several major areas of program focus. Together, we have developed a comprehensive set of production issues which will be addressed through the integration of applied mechanization technologies developed through this project.

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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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