Mission: Sustainable Horticulture
Sustainable horticulture reflects an integration of skills and knowledge in pest management, plant propagation, plant nutrition, soil science, ecology, economics, and policy.
In 2019 and 2020, we established the Irrigation classroom and the Substrates lab. At the Irrigation classroom, we use sensors to determine how much water a plant needs to thrive, and what irrigation levels are excessive, which wastes fertilizer and increases pathogen pressure. At the Substrates lab, we generate moisture-release-curves for soils and soil less media to help growers to optimize irrigation schedules based on their specific substrate. By combining information from the Irrigation classroom and the Substrates lab we can help growers know exactly how much water plants need, at a specific location. Please reach out if you want to learn more about sensor-based irrigation or creating irrigation recommendations for your particular fields or potting mixes.
Our current projects focus on controlling tip-feeding insects like thrips and lygus, managing flatheaded borers, cultural controls of boxwood blight, integrating beneficial insects, and optimizing sprayer systems. Our research and extension programs highlight best management practices for airblast sprayers, including sensor-based sprayers like the Intelligent Sprayer System [ISS]. The ISS is a laser-guided spray system that can reduce spray volumes in nurseries and orchards by 70% while providing equivalent control. The Nackley Lab has an ISS retrofitted on a tower and a mini-pak airblast sprayers, which are available for demonstration. Please check on line for our spray workshops with DAN and ODA that provide ODA CEUs for pesticide spray applicators.
We investigate plant health at multiple levels. From the air, we use remotely piloted aerial systems, [aka a drone] to detect nutrient deficiencies and plant stress in container and field nursery production systems. On the ground level, we use the NWREC "run-off pad", a system designed to capture leachate to optimize container fertilization. We have collaborated with Bailey Nurseries, J. Frank Schmidt and Sons, Marion Ag, and the USDA to identify plants and applications for nutrient optimization. This research also provides undergraduate and graduate-level training opportunities. We fly the drone and tour the run-off pad at our open house and other field-days. Please reach out if you're interested in working with us on plant nutrition and other plant health projects.
The Western U.S. is expected to endure droughts with escalating severity due to climate change. There will be an increasing demand for low water-use plants to reduce landscape irrigation requirements. We are assisting the green industry in responding to this need by working with nurseries to identify under-represented drought-tolerant plants and partnering with Universities in Arizona, California, Utah, and Washington to create the largest irrigation-controlled drought-tolerance plant trial in the Western U.S. We also partner with the Oregon State Ornamental Plant Breeding Program to trial all of the new releases from □ SU. We host tours of our plant trials at our Open House and Field Days, and welcome suggestions for new varieties of plants to trial.