What are Best Management Practices?
You may not be familiar with the term - "Best Management Practice", or BMP for short.
BMP's may be best described as "proactive management practices that are necessary to produce plants with minimal environmental impact"
Best management practices are probably best thought of as an integrated approach to production that encompasses a number of broad areas, since changing one production variable often results in a change in other factors. For example, a change in substrate composition (physical properties) can result in a change irrigation management.
Growing plants in containers (either in greenhouses, container nurseries or in pot-in-pot field operations) is a unique production system, compared to growing plants in native field soil. Container plants are grown in soilless substrates (media) that contain a limited amount of water, generally retain small quantities of nutrients and confine roots in a limited volume. Consequently, production inputs such as irrigation, fertilization and pest control require precise and properly timed applications, in quantities that result in maximum benefit, with a minimal impact on the environment.
Thus, we have the opportunity to educate and ensure that the best possible management strategies (or BMP's) are used, recognizing the site-specific nature of nursery production facilities.
BMP's can be more broadly defined as "schedules of activities, prohibitions, maintenance procedures and structural or other management practices found to be the most effective and practical to prevent or reduce the discharge of pollutants to the air or waters of the United States."
Best Management Practices also include operating procedures, and practices to control site runoff, ground water contamination, spillage or leaks, sludge or waste disposal, or drainage from raw material storage. Thus BMP's can conserve and protect water resources from adverse environmental impacts that might results from cultural practices used to produce plants.
BMP's are site specific by their very nature, and thus not all available BMP's will be implemented by any one producer. However, as many BMP's as possible should be incorporated into the production system, whether plants are produced in native soils or soilless container substrates. BMP's provide uniform production guidelines, regardless of nursery acreage or location.
Our Primary Reference:
Our primary reference is " Best Management Practices: A Guide for Producing Nursery Crops " published by the Southern Nursery and available from the SNA website at http://www.sna.org/ .
The second edition of this guide (available in December, 2006) is the result of contributions from a large number of individuals from the sixteen States that the Southern Nursery Association encompasses. As such, we urge you to purchase and use this reference as a guide to implementing best management practices in your operation.
What will the Knowledge Center Provide?
So why do we need the on-line Knowledge Centre? Well, the SNA Best management Practice Manual gives you a synopsis of what BMP's you should consider implementing, as a text. However, the Knowledge Center will complement the manual by providing you with an in-depth knowledge about each practice, with links to real-life examples, reference materials and on-going research projects.
This Knowledge Center will allow us to provide you with information that we usually only provide our undergraduate students. The modules are continuing education units that you can access in your own time and review at your own pace. They will provide you with a more in-depth knowledge than we can convey in a short extension program or visit to your operation. More importantly, it will be a resource that you can come back to repeatedly, as we hope to keep the content fresh as we integrate our current research findings into our learning modules.
In time, we hope to be able to provide you all with an integrated searchable index of best management practices with case-studies involving real operations. We feel that by taking this approach -- where we also learn from grower's experiences -- that we will really be able to provide practical solutions to real-world situations.