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Bedding plant nutrition: implications for productivity and quality - HH1413SHN

Key to the plug plant industry is the production of a high quality seedling with a heavily branched root system and a robust, sturdy shoot. A major constraint to consistently achieving high quality plugs is the ability to apply nutrients in a controlled and effective way in small rooting volumes. In addition, at present, producers use existing nutrient formulations that are implemented in other sectors of the industry, because there are currently no accurate guidelines as to how nutrition needs to be manipulated to optimise plug plant quality. The aim of this project is to study the physiology of nutrition and how this can be used in combination with controlled root stress to produce high quality plug plants. The project will build on the findings of previous research, which demonstrated that conditions in the root environment could affect both root and shoot growth and physiology (HH1321SPC) and nutrient accumulation in the shoot (HH1320SPC). The results will provide guidelines for improved management of the root environment to increase crop quality and productivity (ROAME A).
The overall objective of the project is to understand the physiology of nutrition and how this can be used in combination with controlled root stress to produce high quality plug plants. Four hypotheses will be tested to examine factors that will examine the role of nutrient availability and accumulation on seedling establishment.-That root growth and development can be stimulated by periods of nutrient deficit-That controlled water deficit is beneficial to root growth and nutrient accumulation in the shoot-That module size is an important factor in the control of nutrient availablity and accumulation during establishment -That nutrition and controlled stress strategies formulated separately can be combined to improve nutrient accumulation and bedding plant establishmentThis will be achieved through the following objectives.01 To determine the effects of nutrient deficit at selected developmental stages on root growth and development 02 To determine the effect of waterdeficit stress on nutrient accumulation and seedling growth03 To determine the role of module size on the effectiveness of applying nutrient and water deficit treatments 04 To use the results to identify and test treatment combinations to relieve the constraints on root and shoot growth during plug production05 To formulate integrated strategies for increasing production efficiency and product quality and to transfer these strategies to the industry

Objectives 4 and 5 will depend on the identification of suitable treatments for relieving constraints on seedling establishment in Objectives 1-3. All other Objectives are independent.

The experimental work will make use of hydroponic and peat based plug tray growing systems to provide the necessary control over the rooting environment. These are well tested techniques in which HRI has extensive experience. It is therefore highly unlikely that the objectives will not be met and the risk of any delays will be minimised.

Project Documents
• FRP - Final Report : HH1413SMU final report   (393k)
• SUP - Supplementary Report : HH1413SMU additional data   (117k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2001

To: 2006

Cost: £447,163
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Warwick - HRI, Horticulture Research International
Allocated - WHRI              
Natural Resource Use              
Sustainable Farming and Food              
Fields of Study