An integrated approach to developing nutrient management schemes for container-grown nursery crops

2008 Annual Report for LNE07-265

Project Type: Research and Education
Funds awarded in 2007: $106,562.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2010
Region: Northeast
State: New Jersey
Project Leader:
Dr. John Dighton
Rutgers Universuty
Co-Leaders:
Gladis Zinati
Rutgers, The State University

An integrated approach to developing nutrient management schemes for container-grown nursery crops

Summary

Out of 135 people who attended the nursery meetings and field demonstration in 2007, around 40 people attended the hands-on workshop in the second year of this project. The workshop included presentations, Q/A session, identification of mycorrhizae under microscopes, and field demonstration on sampling and inoculation techniques.

The team selected six nursery growers to represent a cross-section of New Jersey’s nursery growers. The mycorrhizal researcher, six growers, three agricultural agents, and NJNLA representative met with the project leader in person to plan the field trials at these nurseries and the Rutgers Research Station. Each nursery grower selected the plant type that would like to grow and test with natural mycorrhizae when grown under the commonly used cultural practices at these nurseries. These plants were evaluated for plant biomass (top and root), nutrient content in plant tissue and leachates collected from plants grown at the research station.

The plants included: Echinacea, Chamaecyparis, Azalea, Oakleaf Hydrangea, Oak , and Bigleaf Hydrangea. Except for Azalea and oak plants were inoculated with VAM natural mycorrhizae. Azalea were inoculated with ericoid inoculum while Oak plants were inoculated with ectomycorrhizae taken from roots of oak in natural forest.

The selected nursery growers inoculated the plant liners at planting and took care of the plants during the growing season at their nurseries.

Results showed a significant increase in echinacea ‘Harvest Moon’ top biomass over root biomass in plants that received natural mycorrhizal inoculum. Inoculated plants showed a significant increase in spent, open, and closed flowers.

The inoculated plants had higher top biomass than root biomass for the azalea ‘Karen Purple’, Bigleaf Hydrangea ‘Forever & Ever Double Pink’, and Oakleaf Hydrangea ‘Pee Wee’. However, the inoculated chamaecyparis plants had, although not significant, lower top and root biomass. No significant difference in oak plants.

Work underway includes analysis of nutrient content in plant tissue and leachates, and assessment of percent mycorrhizal colonization in each treated plant.

We were very successful in engaging the nursery growers in selecting the plant species, rearing these plants at these nurseries, and raising the interest in using natural systems to increase crop productivity.

Nine local and national presentations took place during 2008 on project results progress with two published abstracts. During these presentations we have reached around 550 people.
Press releases, faxes, and websites were used to reach out the public.

Objectives/Performance Targets

In the second year project, the objectives were to a) train nursery growers and agricultural agents during a one-day short course (hands-on) workshop, b)select six nursery growers to test and verify the best treatments found in year’s one study. The growers will inoculate selected plant species and amend it with commonly used fertilizer. They will monitor plant growth and leachates, c) update the nursery clientel on the progress and results of this project, and d) address questions related to uses of natural mycorrhizalea and uses of fertilizers.  

Accomplishments/Milestones

Milestone 2: Out of 135, 40 nursery growers attended the one-day short course to further their understanding on the uses of fertilizers and mycorrhizae and have hands on experience on techniques used for inoculation and monitoring of leachates.

Milestone 3: Out of 40 nursery growers, six were selected to test and verify the best treatments found in year’s one study. The growers inoculated the selected plant species and amended it with commonly used fertilizer. They also monitored plant growth.

Impacts and Contributions/Outcomes

The impact of this project is tremendous. We have received many invitations to present our results on uses of mycorrhizae not only by nursery associations but also by associations involved with conifers and Christmas trees, master gardeners, landscapers, and mycorrhizae laboratories.

We have made nine local and national presentations and published two abstracts in addition to publicizing the information on this project through flyers, handouts, NJNAES websites, NJNLA newsletters, and Rutgers PPA newsletters.

We have reached 550 people during the second year project through these presentations.
Many growers became very interested in using the natural mycorrhizae and consider it part of the crop production system especially after they have learned, experienced, and observed the beneficial effects of using mycorrhizae.

Presentations:

1.Gladis Zinati. Management of nursery plants using mycorrhizae.  Presented at the South Jersey Landscape Conference and Nursery Growers Meeting, Masso’s Crystal Manor, Glassboro, NJ , December 3, 2008.

2.Gladis Zinati. Effects of fertilizers and naturally-occurring mycorrhizae on sustainable production of nursery crops. Presented at the Nursery Meeting at Cream Ridge, NJ, August 28, 2008.

3.Gladis Zinati, John Dighton, Rich Obal, Jim Johnson, Jerry Frecon, and Carl Nordstrom. Effects of fertilizers and naturally-occurring mycorrhizae on sustainable production of nursery crops.  Presented at the 2008 ASHS Annual Conference, Orlando, FL, July 23, 2008.

4.Gladis Zinati.  Future trends in nursery production. Presented at the nursery workshop “Future trends in nursery production: Using natural mycorrhizae a hands-on experience”, June 25, 2008.

5.Gladis Zinati. Updates on Research and Extension Activities: Related to the Development of Nutrient Management practices for Container-Grown Crops Using Naturally-Occurring Mycorrhizal Fungi. Presented at the South Jersey Nursery Growers Meeting, Millville, NJ, February 29, 2008.

6.Gladis Zinati. Mycorrhizae in the landscape. Presented at the Central Jersey Turf and Ornamental Institute. Angelonis Ceder Gardens, Hamilton, NJ, February 20, 2008.

7.Gladis Zinati. Nutrient management in container-grown nursery crops. Presented at the 2008 Long Island Horticulture Conference, Holiday Inn, Ronkonkoma, NY. Sponsored by Cornell Cooperative Extension, Suffolk County, January 30, 2008.

8.Gladis Zinati. The benefits and uses of mycorrhizae in Christmas trees: Ways to increase survival in plantings. Presented to Christmas tree growers at the New Jersey Christmas Tree Growers’ Association Winter Conference, Clinton, NJ, January 26, 2008.

9.Gladis Zinati. The contribution of mycorrhizal fungi in sustainable Landscaping. Presented at the 2008 NJNLA Trade Show – Educational Session, Somerset, NJ, January 17, 2008.

Abstracts:
1. Gladis Zinati, John Dighton, Rich Obal, Jim Johnson, Jerry Frecon, and Carl Nordstrom. 2008. Effects of fertilizers and naturally-occurring mycorrhizae on sustainable production of nursery crops.  HortScience 43 (4): 1126.

2. Zinati, G., and Dighton, J. 2008. Impact of fertilizers on ornamental nursery plant growth and mycorrhizal colonization. (abstract) Proceedings, ASA-CSSA-SSSA International Annual Meetings, Houston, TX. Available at:
http://a-c-s.confex.com/crops/2008am/webprogram/Paper45690.html