Comparing Organic and Conventional Fertilization Methods for Cut Flower Production in Haygrove High Tunnels

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2004: $10,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2006
Grant Recipient: Kansas State University
Region: North Central
State: Kansas
Graduate Student:
Faculty Advisor:
Kimberly Williams
Kansas State University

Annual Reports


  • Additional Plants: ornamentals


  • Crop Production: fertigation, organic fertilizers, tissue analysis
  • Farm Business Management: budgets/cost and returns
  • Production Systems: general crop production
  • Soil Management: nutrient mineralization

    Proposal abstract:

    Though sustainable farming practices are being more readily adopted by market farmers, very little information is available about organic fertilization strategies for cut flowers, which can be lucrative for growers. In addition, evaluation of the suitability of Haygrove high tunnels in the Midwest region is of interest to growers who are considering these lower-cost structures to extend their production seasons and moderate summer temperatures. The primary aim of this project is to compare organic and conventional fertilization strategies for three high-value cut flower crops (giant ornamental poppy, lisianthus, and dianthus) produced in Haygrove high tunnels. Research will be conducted following input from our grower-collaborator, Vicki Stamback, at the Eastern Kansas Horticulture and Forestry Research and Education Center in Olathe, Kansas. Rates of macronutrients will be held constant between conventional and organic fertilizer treatments. Growth of plants with pelleted and liquid organic fertilizers in plots either amended or not with composted manure will be compared to conventional fertilization with slow-release fertilizer and an inorganic general purpose soluble feed. In addition to growth and weather data, soluble NO3, NH4, and PO4 will be tracked over time in each treatment and across seasons, and partial economic budgets will be created for each fertilization system. Outputs will include presentation at growers’ meetings, publication in both refereed and trade journals, and posting to the website An evaluation plan will include surveys fielded at regional growers’ meetings and follow-up with participants one year later to assess impact via adoption of new practices.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    Goals of this research project are to generate practical information about the use of organic compared to inorganic fertilization strategies for cut flowers produced in Haygrove high tunnels. This information will include rates of fertilizer applied, timing of fertilizer applications, and the economics of fertilizer use for three high-value crops, including an assessment of some of the less tangible benefits that accrue from adopting organic fertilization strategies. Generating, demonstrating, and sharing this information will contribute not only to the knowledge base of our intended audience of growers and market farmers, but also help improve adoption of sustainable cut flower production practices by demonstrating their economic feasibility and ease of use. Our means to share this information with cut flower growers and market farmers includes publication in industry trade magazines and posting to the image-rich website

    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.