Nitrogen Management and Plant Quality Monitoring Using Optical Sensor Technology in Native and Non-Native Specialty Crops

  • Title: Nitrogen Management and Plant Quality Monitoring Using Optical Sensor Technology in Native and Non-Native Specialty Crops
  • Principal Investigator: Amir A. Khoddamzadeh
  • Funding Amount: $82,677.37
  • Funding Source: USDA-Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBGP) Program
  • Timeline: 01/01/21 - 08/31/23

Nitrogen is a macronutrient that affects plant chlorophyll content which can be used to define the growth status and leaf N content in plants. Overfertilizing can lead to extra costs as well as an environmental hazard via nutrient runoff. This is a primary driver of declining water quality throughout Florida, which ultimately contributes to algal blooms.

this image shows plant species

The project will demonstrate the use of non-destructive handheld sensors to precisely estimate the N requirement of specialty crops and help lower fertilizer costs and nutrient losses.

In consultation with stakeholders such as Pine Island Nursery, Costa Farms, Florida Association of Native Nurseries, and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, various native (Cocoplum, Cabbage palm, Satinleaf and Wild coffee) and also commercially grown non-native (Cocoa) plants will be used that are of great importance to the South Florida region for both their ecological and economical purposes. Different fertilizer and supplemented fertilizer treatments in addition to the nurseries recommended fertilizer as a control will be used in different intervals until the completion of the root system establishment which will increase the survivorship rate. Non-destructive optical handheld sensors (SPAD, GreenSeekerTM, and atLEAF+) will be used to provide an instant indication of the N requirement based on the chlorophil content.

The study will also conduct a primary survey of sample farmers to assess their perception about the adaptability of this practice. The result of this study could serve as a guideline for nursery producers and landscape personnel as a fast and non-destructive tool for sustainable fertilizer management practices within the ornamental plant industry.


Postdoctoral Associate

  • Barbara Nogueira Souza Costa

Undergraduate Students

  • Regina Gonzalez
  • Daniel Tucker

Stakeholder Support

  • Florida Association of Native Nurseries (FANN)
  • Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
  • Costa Farms
  • Pine Island Nursery


  • 2021

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