Learn to reduce risks from changing water resources and regulations


Water management will be an issue for nursery operators
At the UT Extension sustainable nursery irrigation workshop on Sept. 25, nursery growers will learn how to more precisely use water for field production (shown in image), as well as above ground container and pot-in-pot production. Photo courtesy UTIA. Download main image.
McMINNVILLE, Tenn. – Amidst the talk of the California drought, climate change and dwindling water resources, here’s a fact that should stand out: in the United States about 62 percent of freshwater withdrawn from available resources, excluding thermoelectric withdrawals, is used for agriculture.  

Amy Fulcher,
assistant professor for sustainable ornamental plant production and landscape management
with University of Tennessee Extension, says the increasing competition for water for industrial, municipal, and agricultural uses makes now a good time for growers to learn how water availability and changes to water regulations can affect nurseries and traditional agricultural crops.  

On September 25, UT Extension will host a day-long workshop for
nursery growers and Extension agents and specialists about sustainable nursery irrigation. The workshop will explore how growers can reduce risk from changing water resources and regulations. The goal is to help nursery growers manage their irrigation practices so that they minimize water waste and reduce pesticide and fertilizer leaching from containers.

The program will begin at 8 a.m. at Tennessee State University’s Otis Floyd Nursery Research Center in McMinnville and will move to Blankenship Farms and Nursery in the afternoon for hands-on demonstrations. It’s free to attend and includes a sponsored lunch. However, attendees must pre-register by September 18.

Speakers will include Stefan Maupin, of the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation, who will give an update of regulations affecting Tennessee growers; Tom Yeager, University of Florida, who will conduct hands-on demonstrations related to reducing water use; and Jim Owen, Virginia PolyTechnic and State University, who will address water and fertilizer movement through, and leaching from, containers. In a separate presentation, Owen will discuss irrigation scheduling.

Brian Leib, UT biosystems engineer, and Fulcher will be demonstrating sensor-based irrigation for field- and container-grown plants.
Special guest Jane Stanley of Saunders Brothers Nursery in Piney River, Va., will discuss how their highly successful integrated pest management and irrigation programs have reduced pesticide use and improved production.

“Florida, Michigan, California, the Chesapeake Bay and other areas have already adopted water or related nutrient restrictions that affect nursery crop and other producers,” Fulcher said. “We are hoping growers and others associated with the nursery and agricultural industries will come to the workshop to prepare for the risk of uncertain water resources and to learn to use the water resources they have more carefully, with even better plant growth and health,” she said. 

To pre-register, visit Fulcher’s UT Plant Sciences web page
. Growers may fax or mail the registration form available at the website. Onsite registration will not be permitted. Direct questions to Fulcher by calling 865-974-7152 or email her at afulcher@utk.edu 

The workshop is sponsored by the Southern Risk Management Education Center. The project team includes: Amy Fulcher, UT,  Diana Cochran, Iowa State University,  Brian Lieb, UT, and collaborators: Adam Blalock, TSU, Ed Burns, UT, Rick Cantrell, BFN, Ann Halcomb, MTNA.

UT Extension provides a gateway to the University of Tennessee as the outreach unit of the Institute of Agriculture. With an office in every Tennessee county, UT Extension delivers educational programs and research-based information to citizens throughout the state. In cooperation with Tennessee State University, UT Extension works with farmers, families, youth and communities to improve lives by addressing problems and issues at the local, state and national levels.


Dr. Amy Fulcher, UT Department of Plant Sciences, 865-974-7152, afulcher@utk.edu