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Over-fertilization has been a common and damaging practice in the nursery ornamental production industry throughout the United States. When more fertilizer is applied than plants can take up, the surplus nutrients (particularly nitrogen) can leach out of the container and enter nearby surface waters through runoff.

This has consistently been a problem in Florida, resulting in environmental issues like: toxic algal blooms, significant vegetation shifts and wildlife presence in Everglades ecosystems.

Dr. Khoddamzadeh, along with other scientists from the Department of Earth and Environment released a publication exploring two optical non-destructive sensors, Soil Plant Analysis Development (SPAD-502) and GreenSeekerTM, to measure plant tissue nutrient uptake.

Implementation of this fertilizer routine showed promising results during an experiment in determining the fertilizer requirements of the plant species, Justicia brandegeana (also known as Brandegee or shrimp plant), an ornamental plant native to Mexico and naturalized in Florida.

This method could ultimately reduce negative environmental impacts and serve as a guideline for nursery producers and landscape personnel as a fast and non-destructive tool for sustainable fertilizer management practices.