Nutrient management in Hardy Nursery Stock (NutrHONS) project


HNS 193 - Nutrient management in Hardy Nursery Stock (NutrHONS) project

Start Date: 
Completion Date: 
Project Leader: 
John Adlam, Dove Associates
HNS 193

Industry representative: Nick Dunn, F.P. Matthews

                                          Chris Bowman, Osberton Grange Nurseries

                                          Ann McCann, Bulrush Horticulture Ltd

AHDB Horticulture cost: £120,000


The Problem:

The project aims to provide nurserymen with practical methods of nutrient monitoring to measure the plant uptake and adjust nutrient applications accordingly.  The project will initially carry out a world literature review of monitoring techniques and crop performance data against nutritional inputs. From the review those techniques that provide practical and useful methods will be assessed on a number of crops to validate their practical use for growers on a nursery.

In the final part of the work a range of nursery crops, at various nursery locations in both the UK and Europe, will be assessed and monitored using the techniques to validate their usefulness, and to give Nurserymen an initial set of tests to start developing on-nursery monitoring schemes. Recommendations for further work beyond year three will be included.


Aims and objectives:


To provide growers with a clear insight into the types of monitoring techniques which can be used on nurseries, how these may compare to laboratory results and to achieve a 'blueprint' for good nursery practice in the understanding of fertilisation and monitoring of nutritional status of crops.


1. Review the information which is already available surrounding the 'aims' above.

2. Make recommendations from '1' above on scheme for practically monitoring nursery crops

3. Test the recommended protocols on example crops at a number of geographically different locations

4. Select and validate the techniques on specific nursery sites and across a wider number of geographical locations and with a wider range of plant subjects.


Benefits to the industry:


The levy payer

For a considerable period of time HONS nurseries have struggled to really make use of and/or benchmark their crop performance, with laboratory or on nursery nutritional indictor tests. Whilst various monitoring schemes have been available they have not been particularly nursery friendly and have often been undertaken remotely from actual staff on nurseries. The aim of this work is to demystify the techniques available and through on-nursery demonstrations of the use of techniques allow nurseries to adopt best practice in the monitoring and development of their crops. This may well involve some ‘quick’ on nursery tests supported by laboratory measurement.  It is expected that the project will enable nurserymen to reduce nutrient input costs as they match applications to crop requirements. 


The consumer

For the consumer this should lead to even higher quality standards for the produce with enhanced shelf life.

Environmentally it is anticipated that there will be a better understanding of leaching of fertilizer risks and how to reduce and or eliminate such losses and to better match fertilizer inputs to crop requirements.


The environment

With the Belgian site already meeting the requirements of the Water Framework Directive the project will bring to the UK nurseryman valuable experience gained over several years on nutrient levels and applications to  HONS subjects that result in reduced nutrient discharges.