Water quality can have a huge impact on plant growth, especially in soilless plant production systems. Water is certainly one of the most critical inputs in nursery and greenhouse crop production. Such production systems are extremely diverse but are most commonly characterized as container production, raised-bed production or hydroponics. Soilless systems require intensive management of water and nutrients for optimal plant growth and production. Irrigation water quality impacts nutrient levels and availability as well as other chemical characteristics of the soilless growth substrate; therefore it is critical to characterize the irrigation water source before starting a crop and possibly even during the production of a crop, depending upon the cropping cycle and expected fluctuations in water source. The purpose of this fact sheet is to discuss irrigation water quality factors and to present general guidelines for optimal ranges for measured factors in a University of Kentucky water analysis for nursery and greenhouse crop production.

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