Irrigation Science

, 27:57 | Cite as

Assessing benefits of irrigation and nutrient management practices on a southeast Florida royal palm (Roystonea elata) field nursery

  • K. W. Migliaccio
  • B. Schaffer
  • Y. C. Li
  • E. Evans
  • J. H. Crane
  • R. Muñoz-Carpena
Original Paper

Abstract

Many of the best management practices (BMPs) that are recommended for agricultural producers have not been scientifically evaluated for their conservation benefits considering the soil, climate, and hydrology of the proposed application location. The goal of this study was to compare royal palm (Roystonea elata) production in south Florida, USA, using tensiometer automated irrigation and reduced soil applications of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P), to that of traditional grower practices considering water savings, nutrient inputs, crop yield, crop nutrient status, soil nutrient status, and economic analyses. The study consisted of six treatments: (1) control (i.e., a grower irrigation rate and N and P fertilizer rates); (2) irrigation system automated to irrigate when soil water suction exceeded 5 kPa and the grower N and P rates; (3) irrigation system automated to irrigate when soil water suction exceeded 15 kPa and the grower N and P rates; (4) irrigation system automated to irrigate when soil water suction exceeded 15 kPa and 50% of the grower N and P rates; (5) the grower irrigation rate and 75% of the grower N and P rates; and (6) the grower irrigation rate and 50% of the grower N and P rates. Irrigation water volume applied, plant diameters, and plant heights were measured periodically throughout the study and plant tissue samples and soil samples were collected periodically for analysis of N and P content. Significant differences among treatments were only observed for the irrigation water volume applied. Automating the irrigation system to irrigate at soil suction exceeding 5 and 15 kPa resulted in 75 and 96% less water applied, respectively, than traditional irrigation scheduling practices used by a grower. Economic analyses suggested that all treatments would result in financial savings ranging from 7 to 34% per ha considering a 5-year, 2 ha investment. Thus, automating irrigation based on soil water suction for palm production in southern Florida, USA and similar locations will result in more sustainable agricultural production systems by benefiting the environment (less nutrients and water applied) and the grower (lower cost).

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. W. Migliaccio
    • 1
  • B. Schaffer
    • 2
  • Y. C. Li
    • 3
  • E. Evans
    • 4
  • J. H. Crane
    • 2
  • R. Muñoz-Carpena
    • 5
  1. 1.Agricultural and Biological Engineering, Tropical Research and Education CenterUniversity of FloridaHomesteadUSA
  2. 2.Horticultural Sciences, Tropical Research and Education CenterUniversity of FloridaHomesteadUSA
  3. 3.Soil and Water Science, Tropical Research and Education CenterUniversity of FloridaHomesteadUSA
  4. 4.Food and Resource Economics, Tropical Research and Education CenterUniversity of FloridaHomesteadUSA
  5. 5.Agricultural and Biological EngineeringUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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