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Horticultural Research Institute Announces Funded Research Projects: 2015 Funding Totals $527,000

Friday, May 8, 2015  
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WASHINGTON and COLUMBUS, OH – May 6, 2015 – The Horticultural Research Institute (HRI) has announced the portfolio of research projects receiving funding in 2015. As previously announced, $382,000 will be provided to 15 projects to investigate solutions in the areas of horticultural production, pest management, environmental stewardship, and business and marketing. Combined with an additional $125,000 for four pollinator research projects funded through the special Bee & Pollinator Stewardship Initiative and $20,000 in scholarship awards, the Horticultural Research Institute is investing $527,000 in the industry’s future for 2015.
“Diverse, high quality research is imperative for the long-term advancement of the horticultural industry,” said Craig Regelbrugge, AmericanHort’s senior vice president, industry advocacy and research. “The projects that were selected for 2015 funding will produce innovation, guidance on best practices, and ultimately bring increased efficiencies, better stewardship, and new insights.”
Horticultural Research Institute president John Coulter (Fisher Farms, Gaston, OR) agrees. “Our only agenda is the success of the industry. Supporting projects where outcomes can impact the bottom line for horticultural businesses is the top priority for us, and I believe we’ve succeeding in selecting the best. After careful reviews by industry professionals and scientists, the most relevant projects with sound methods, materials, and measurables were selected for funding.”
HRI encourages investigators to seek out matching funds as part of the proposal application process. As a result, an additional $8.5 million in funds from other granting agencies exponentially increases HRI’s 2014 research investment.
The projects, which were classified by the primary investigators into varying categories of research (Fig. 1), benefit numerous segments of the horticulture industry (Fig. 2).
The Horticultural Research Institute’s mission is to direct, fund, promote, and communicate horticulture research. Supporting research that challenges current methods, pushes for better technology, and bridges the divide between businesses and the consumer is exactly how HRI helps build prosperous businesses, advance the green industry, and fulfill its core vision.
Dr. John Adamczyk, Jr. of the USDA-ARS Thad Cochran Southern Horticultural Laboratory in Poplarville, MS, will research the “Fate of Substrate-applied Neonicotinoids in Container Substrates for Commercial Nursery Crop Production.” Dr. Adamczyk will attempt to quantify neonicotinoid leaching in pine bark and whole pine tree substrates, the absorption of neonicotinoids in crops grown in pine bark and pine tree residual substrates under drip irrigation, and plant absorption of neonicotinoids in crops grown in pine bark and whole pine tree substrates under overhead irrigation. Total funding: $35,100
Dr. Carrie Reinhardt Adams at the University of Florida in Gainesville is studying “Alternatives to Invasive Plant Species for the Horticultural Industry in the Southeastern United States: Breeding Sterile Lantana spp. and Identifying Additional Candidates for Development of Sterile Cultivars.” This project aims to produce sterile, non-invasive Lantana cultivars as a suitable substitute for nursery production and landscape use. In the first year of the project, they will evaluate rooting ability of cuttings for propagation, plant growth, and visual quality during nursery production. Additionally, this project will identify which additional invasive ornamental species represent potential economically viable candidates for development of sterile cultivars. The development of sterile cultivars provides alternatives to invasive species while allowing growers to meet consumer demand for environmentally friendly products. Total funding: $24,000
Dr. James Altland at USDA-ARS in Wooster, OH is investigating “Weed Control with Rice Hulls.” This research will continue to develop rice hulls as a new tool for controlling weeds in propagation, greenhouses, enclosed structures, and herbicide-sensitive crops. Currently, weed control in container crops is primarily achieved with pre-emergence herbicides. However, pre-emergence herbicides cannot be used on all crops, nor are they labeled for use in enclosed structures. This research will provide clarify on how and when rice hulls can be used for weed control in container crop production. Total funding: $15,000
Dr. Raul Cabrera at the Rutgers University Agricultural Research and Extension Center in Bridgeton, NJ, is studying the “Use of Alternative Irrigation Water Sources for Urban Landscapes and Nursery Crops.” Water availability and quality, and their management, are essential issues to the sustainability of the green industry. New regulations on water usage throughout North America mean that horticultural businesses need to consider the impending use of alternative and poor-quality irrigation sources and the BMPs that can lead to their successful and sustainable use while minimizing undesirable impacts to the surrounding environment. This project will evaluate the long-term effects of “gray water” irrigation on landscape plants and soils, while generating practical information to allow ornamental growers and landscape managers to effectively use and manage alternative irrigation water sources in their operations, sustain productivity and quality, and minimize undesirable effects. Total funding: $25,000
Dr. John Dole at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC, is continuing work on behalf of the American Society of Horticultural Science (ASHS) on “Promoting Horticulture: A National Study and Action Plan.”  ASHS, in cooperation with Longwood Gardens, has initiated a national study and action plan that aim to improve public perceptions of horticulture, develop tactics to ensure that horticulture is part of the national education curriculum, and increase the number of well-trained horticulture employees, among other goals. Total funding: $15,000
Dr. Thomas Fernandez at Michigan State University in East Lansing, MI, is investigating “Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) for Nursery and Greenhouse Cost of Production, Logistics, and Decision Support.” The inability to provide real-time location information for container-produced plants has limited the ability to use precision agriculture methods in the production system since containers are frequently moved. RFID can provide real-time or near-real-time information to link production blocks, rows, and container beds to individual plants in container production systems. This project will determine the effectiveness of RFID for use in greenhouse container production and cut flower operations. Total funding: $40,000
Dr. Robert Geneve at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, KY, is working on “Optimizing Plant Growth and Water Use by Modifying Cyclic Irri

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