As water use and runoff regulations become more stringent and concerns about dwindling water supplies become more of an issue, finding ways to increase the efficiency of water use for horticultural operations is crucial. A new study contains answers that can help horticultural growers address regulatory and cost concerns. Amanda Bayer, lead author of the research study, explained that most often horticultural best management practices (BMPs) are used to conserve water, but that BMPs do not account for water requirements of plants. "Soil moisture sensors can be used along with an automated irrigation system to irrigate when substrate volumetric water content drops below a set threshold, allowing for precise irrigation control and improved water conservation compared with traditional irrigation practices," Bayer said. Bayer and colleagues Imran Mahbub, Matthew Chappell, John Ruter, and Marc van Iersel from the Department of Horticulture at the University of Georgia published their research findings in the August 2013 issue of HortScience.
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