Water management is the most important crop production issue in nursery and greenhouse systems. This is because water management affects plant growth and development, energy use, fertilizer use, pesticide and herbicide use and the environmental issues associated with inefficient application.
The majority of ornamental plants sold in the US are now grown in containers using soilless substrates like pine bark and peat. These substrates do not retain a lot of water. Being containerized, these plants also have much smaller root systems than field-grown plants and yet have large, leafy canopies. This combination of factors is why these plants need frequent irrigation to optimize growth rates and plant quality
Our approach is simple: We want to irrigate plants at the right time and as precisely as possible, to optimize the growth of ornamental plants, while minimizing the amount of leaching and runoff from production systems.
To do this, we are taking a systems (looking at all factors related to plant growth) approach to the problem. This integrates our knowledge of plant physiology, operational variability and advances in sensor and wireless network technology, to create a precision irrigation management system.