Optimization of Irrigation Practices in Organic and Sustainable Vegetable Production with Soluble Dye as an Educational Tool

Project Overview

Project Type: On-Farm Research
Funds awarded in 2005: $14,663.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2005
Region: Southern
State: Florida
Principal Investigator:
Eric Simonne
University of Florida


  • Fruits: melons


  • Crop Production: organic fertilizers
  • Production Systems: general crop production
  • Soil Management: organic matter, soil analysis

    Proposal abstract:

    The environmental impact of intensive vegetable production may be reduced through the implementation of Best Management Practices (BMPs) that integrate water and nutrient management together. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services plans to adopt by rule early 2005, the "Florida Vegetable and Agronomic Crop Water Quality and Quantity BMP Manual". While the effect of fertilization on nutrient discharge is well documented, too often the vector of nutrient movement in soils - water- is overlooked. As a team, we believe that the main obstacle in reaching a higher level of sustainability is the current level of irrigation management. Growers often cite the fact that they cannot see water movements in the soil as a major factor in visualizing and understanding how above-ground practices affect under-ground water and fertilizer movement. We propose to inject blue dye through the drip irrigation system to help vegetable growers visualize the effect of their irrigation program on soil water movement and distribution.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    The goal of this project is to help conventional and organic growers improve their water management strategies early in the growing season by visualizing water movement with blue dye injected approximately every two weeks. The main objectives are to (1) describe and measure the position of the dye under field condition and (2) determine nitrate and ammonium distribution below these vegetable fields.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.