Water Conservation and Management of Regionally-Adapted Landscape Plants and Other Agricultural Crops
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Water issues, specifically water quantity and water quality are major concerns to urban and many other agricultural and industrial sectors in Texas, southwestern states, and now even in states that have previously had ample water resources. Competition for fresh water supply among agricultural, urban, and industrial water users has become more intense. Urban landscape irrigation water can be reduced by using low water use plant materials and increasing irrigation efficiency. Therefore, identifying drought tolerant, low water use plant species is key. Another option of conserving water in urban landscapes is to use alternative water sources such as municipal reclaimed water so that fresh water can be saved for other important uses. Although reclaimed water has been used for irrigating golf courses for more than a decade in some areas, its use for irrigating landscapes with multiple plant species has just begun. Lack of information on salt tolerance of ornamental plants and irrigation management with low quality water are the major hurdles. Our previous research results have indicated that salt tolerance of ornamental plants varied widely among species and that drought tolerant native plants are not necessarily salt tolerant. To succeed in water conservation in landscapes, research-based information on salt and drought tolerant, low water requirement landscape plant species is needed. This project continues to identify salt and drought tolerant landscape plants for Texas and the southwestern states. Laboratory, greenhouse, and field experiments will be conducted to achieve the goal. Rapid screening of relative stress tolerance for a large number or selected genotypes will be conducted under greenhouse and laboratory conditions or whenever specific physical and chemical conditions should be maintained. Field studies will be used to further confirm the results of greenhouse and laboratory results for limited number of selected genotypes under field conditions. This project will develop the knowledge and information necessary to make recommendations of adapted or native ornamental landscape plant species appropriate for the west Texas and other arid and semi-arid Southwest based on their drought tolerance and water use. Knowledge of actual water use of plants will help the nursery industry, landscape professionals and homeowners to enhance irrigation efficiency by scheduling irrigation timing and amount more accurately..........