Tom Fernandez

Tom Fernandez

fernan15@msu.edu

Department of Horticulture

Professor

Telephone: 517-353-0336

1066 Bogue St, Room A216
East Lansing, MI 48824

Area of Expertise:

Sustainability of wholesale production nurseries, water management and quality


Degree:

PhD


Quick links: Education  Experience   Teaching   Publications    Extension    Research

Joined the department

September 1999

Appointment

45% Research

30% Teaching

25% Extension

Current and Previous Experience

Professor, Dept. of Horticulture, MSU, 2016 - present

Associate Professor, Dept. of Horticulture, MSU, 2003 - 2016

Assistant Professor, Dept. of Horticulture, MSU, 1999 - 2003

Assistant Professor, Dept. of Horticulture, Clemson University, 1996 - 1999

Assistant Professor, Dept. of Horticulture, Louisiana State University, 1995 - 1996

Post-doctoral Research Associate, Dept. of Horticulture, MSU, 1992 - 1995

Education

Ph.D., Michigan State University, December 1992

M.S., University of Florida, May 1989

B.S., University of Florida, May 1986

 

Links

Web of Science ResearcherID M1598-2013

ORCID 0000-0003-0113-8055

ResearchGate Profile

Clean WateR3

Reduce, Remediate, Recycle: Informed Decision-Making to Facilitate the Use of Alternative Water Resources and Promote Sustainable Specialty Crop Production - NIFA USDA SCRI Award #2014-51181-22372

Twitter: Tom Fernandez@MSUCleanWateR3

 

Teaching

Nursery Management (HRT 310) Fall Semester: Management of wholesale container and field production nurseries. Business development, management, site selection, financial aspects, legal regulations, production practices (nutrition, water management, pest management, pruning and training, storage and handling, shipping). The course includes a semester long project with small scale nurseries. Typically 3,000 to 4,000 plants are donated as well as fertilizer and potting substrate for the project each year for over $70,000 in gifts-in-kind to date (2000-2008). Nurseries have 3 to 5 student members responsible for 300-500 plants per nursery. The nurseries grow the plants, develop cost of production estimates, catalogs, a sales and marketing program, mock sell to 3 faculty members, and determine profit or loss for the semester. Plants are used in fund-raisers to off-set other class project costs, my and other faculty members’ research projects, Hort Club fund-raisers, and HTRC, Horticulture Demonstration Garden and MSU campus plantings.

Landscape Plant Identification I (HRT 211) Fall Semester: Identification characteristics and uses of herbaceous perennials, shade trees and summer and fall flowering shrubs and trees. Emphasis is on common landscape plants. Approximately 220 species are covered.

 

Research

Research area is improving the sustainability of wholesale production nurseries. Specific projects have focused on water management and quality, biodegradable films, phytoremediation of runoff water, RFID.

Publications in Past 5 Years

  • Abdi, D.E., J.S. Owen Jr., J.C. Brindley, A.C. Birnbaum, P.C. Wilson, F.O. Hinz, G. Reguera, J. Lee, B.M. Cregg, D.R. Kort, R.T. Fernandez. 2020. Nutrient and Pesticide Remediation Using a Two-stage Bioreactor-Adsorbtive System Under Two Hydraulic Retention Times. Water Res.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.watres.2019.115311

  • Abdi, D.E. and R.T. Fernandez. 2019. Reducing water and pesticide movement in nursery production. HortTechnology; https://doi.org/10.21273/HORTTECH04298-19

  • Fernandez, R.T., N.A. Pershey, J.A. Andresen and B.M. Cregg. 2019. Water conserving irrigation practices, plant growth, seasonal crop coefficients, and nutrition of container-grown woody ornamentals. Water Special Issue: Irrigation and Water Resources Management of Landscape Plants 11, 2070; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11102070

  • Knight, J., D.E. Abdi, D.L. Ingram and R.T. Fernandez. 2019. Water footprint analysis of container-grown plants in a model research nursery as affected by irrigation and fertilization treatments. Water, 11(12), 2436; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11122436

  • Knuth, M., B. Behe, C. Hall, P. Huddleston and R. Fernandez. 2019. Sit back or dig in: The role of activity level in landscape market segmentation. HortScience 54:1818-1823; https://doi.org/10.21273/HORTSCI14158-19

  • Poudyal, S., R.T. Fernandez, J.O. Owen and B.M. Cregg. 2019. Dose-dependent phytotoxicity of pesticides in simulated nursery runoff on landscape nursery plants. Water 11, 2354; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11112354

  • White, S.A., J.S. Owen, J.C. Majsztrik, L.R. Oki, P.R. Fisher, C.R. Hall, J.D. Lea-Cox and R.T. Fernandez. 2019. Greenhouse and nursery water management characterization and research priorities. Water 11, 2338; https://doi.org/10.3390/w11112338

  • Behe, B.K., M. Knuth, C.R. Hall, P.T. Huddleston, and R.T. Fernandez. 2018. Consumer involvement with and expertise in water conservation and plants affect landscape plant purchases, importance, and enjoyment. HortScience 53:1164-1171; https://doi.org/10.21273/HORTSCI13119-18

  • Knuth, M., B.K. Behe, C.R. Hall, P. Huddleston and R.T. Fernandez. 2018. Consumer perceptions of landscape plant production water sources and uses in the landscape during perceived and real drought. HortTechnology 28:85-93; https://doi.org/10.21273/HORTTECH03893-17

  • Knuth, M., B.K. Behe, C.R. Hall, P. Huddleston and R.T. Fernandez. 2018. Consumer perceptions, attitudes, and purchase behavior with landscape plants during real and perceived drought periods. HortScience 53:49-54; https://doi.org/10.21273/HORTSCI12482-17

  • Majsztrik, J.C., R.T. Fernandez, P.R. Fisher, D.R. Hitchcock, J. Lea-Cox, J.S. Owen, Jr., L.R. Oki and S.A. White. 2017. Water use and treatment in containerized specialty crop production: A review. Water Air and Soil Pollution 2017:228:151; https://doi.org/10.1007/s11270-017-3272-1

  • Palma, M.A., B.K. Behe, C.R. Hall, P.T. Huddleston, and R.T. Fernandez. 2016. Tracking position premiums in discrete choice experiments. Applied Economics Letters; https://doi.org/10.1080/13504851.2016.1150941 

  • Behe, B. K., P.T. Huddleston, M. Bae, R.T. Fernandez, M. Palma, C.R. Hall. 2015. The effect of involvement on visual attention and product choice. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 24(5):10-21.

  • Brumfield, R.G., A.J. DeVincentis, X. Wang, R.T. Fernandez, S. Nambuthiri, R.L. Geneve, A.K. Koeser, G. Bi, G. Niu, D. Cochran, A. Fulcher. 2015. Economics of utilizing alternative containers in ornamental crop production systems. HortTechnology 25:17-25; https://doi.org/10.21273/HORTTECH.25.1.17

  • Huddleston, P., B.K. Behe, S. Minahan, and R.T. Fernandez. 2015. Seeking Attention: A study of in-store merchandise displays using eye-tracking. International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management 43:561-574.

  • King, A.R., M.A. Palma, B.K. Behe, R.T. Fernandez, L. Sage, C.R. Hall, and M.A. Arnold. 2015. Garden consumers’ behavior and attitudes toward woody plants and water conservation in two selected communities. J. Environ. Hort. 33:110-118

  • Li, T., G. Bi, G. Niu, S. Nambuthiri, R. Geneve, X. Wang, R.T. Fernandez, Y. Sun, X. Zhao. 2015. Feasibility of using biocontainers in a pot-in-pot system for nursery production of river birch. HortTechnology 25:57-62; https://doi.org/10.21273/HORTTECH.25.1.57

  • Nambuthiri, S., R.L. Geneve, Y. Sun, X. Wang, R.T. Fernandez, G. Niu, G. Bi, A. Fulcher. 2015. Substrate temperature in black plastic, wood pulp, keratin, and fabric nursery containers. HortTechnology 25:50-56; https://doi.org/10.21273/HORTTECH.25.1.50

  • Pershey, N.A., R.T. Fernandez, B.M. Cregg and J.A. Andresen. 2015. Irrigating based on daily water use reduces nursery effluent volume and nutrient load without reducing growth of four conifers. HortScience 50:1553-1561; https://doi.org/10.21273/HORTSCI.50.10.1553

  • Wang, W., R.T. Fernandez, B.M. Cregg, R. Auras, A. Fulcher, D.R. Cochran, G. Niu, Y. Sun, G. Bi, S. Nambuthiri, R.L.Geneve. 2015. Multi-state evaluation of plant growth and water use in plastic and alternative nursery containers. HortTechnology 25:42-49; https://doi.org/10.21273/HORTTECH.25.1.42

Extension

Extension programs in water management and quality for wholesale production nurseries, substrates and nutrition for container production, water use legislation as it affects nurseries, estimating cost of production.

Extension and Trade Journal Publications in Past 5 Years

 

Presentations to Industry Audiences in Past 5 Years

  • Abdi, D.E and R.T. Fernandez. 2019. Sanitizing agents and methods for removing pathogens from irrigation water. West Michigan Nursery Growers, Webinar

  • Fernandez, R.T. 2019. Clean WateR3 Program Report. Michigan Seedling Growers Association Annual Meeting, Ludington, MI. Sept. 19, 2019

  • Calabro, J., C. Cannon, P. Doruska, R.T. Fernandez, B. Meyer, and M. Vollmer. 2018 Automating and innovating tree monitoring techniques for the nursery, arborist, and forester. Invited Panel Member AmericanHort Webinar. November 15, 2018.

  • Calabro, J., C. Cannon, P. Doruska, R.T. Fernandez, B. Meyer, and M. Vollmer. 2018 Automating and innovating tree monitoring techniques for the nursery, arborist, and forester. Invited Panel Member Oregon Far West Trade Show, Portland, OR. August 22, 2018.

  • Abdi, D.E. and R.T. Fernandez. 2018. Bioreactors for nursery and greenhouse water remediation. University of Florida grower webinar.

  • Abdi, D.E. and R.T. Fernandez. 2018. Reducing water and pesticide movement in nurseries. Invited presentation Maryland Grower Conference, August 6, 2018.

  • Behe, B.K. and R.T. Fernandez. 2018. Research that matters: RFID and consumer products. Invited presentation Cultivate18, Columbus, OH July 16, 2018.

  • Fernandez, R.T. and D.E. Abdi. 2018. Water and pesticide movement in container production as affected by irrigation practices. Invited presentation California Nursery Conference, Watsonville, CA June 21, 2018.

  • Fernandez, R.T. and D.E. Abdi. 2018. What’s in the water leaving your nursery and where it is going. Invited presentation MNLA GLTE, Lansing, MI January 22, 2018.

    Abdi, D.E. and R.T. Fernandez. 2018. Keeping up with the stones: Benefits of using calcined aggregates throughout the nursery. Invited presentation MNLA GLTE, Lansing, MI January 22, 2018.

  • Fernandez, R.T. 2017. Keeping nutrients in their place: Irrigation management to enhance nutrient retention in container production. Invited presentation International Plant Propagator’s Society Annual Meeting 2017. Grand Rapids, MI, October 13, 2017.

  • Fernandez, R.T. 2017. Tune in to your plants with radio frequency identification. Invited presentation. 2017 AmericanHort Production Technology, Dallas, TX October 10, 2017.

  • Fernandez, R.T. 2017. Where do nutrients go when you irrigate? Managing irrigation to enhance nutrient retention in container production. Invited presentation. 2017 California Nursery Conference: Water Management in Nursery and Greenhouse Production. Irvine, CA, July 27, 2017.

  • Fernandez, R.T. 2017. Irrigating to keep nutrients in their place helps grow more with less. Invited presentation Grower conference: Tools and Technologies for Irrigation Management in Container and Field Nurseries, Raleigh, NC. June 15, 2017.

  • Fernandez, R.T. 2017. RFID for the green industry: current research and potential uses. Invited presentation Chesapeake Green, Baltimore, MD. February 23, 2017.

  • Fernandez, R.T. and D.E. Abdi. 2017. Irrigation through the cloud: Using wireless irrigation systems to schedule and control irrigation for container crops. Invited presentation MNLA GLTE, Lansing, MI January 23, 2017

  • Fernandez, R.T. 2016. Scheduling irrigation to get more plants per gallon. Invited presentation Cultivate16, AmericanHort Conference and Trade Show, Columbus, OH. July 12, 2016

  • Fernandez, R.T. 2016. The good, the bad, and the potential of RFID. Invited presentation Cultivate16, AmericanHort Conference and Trade Show, Columbus, OH. July 11, 12, 2016

  • Fernandez, R.T. 2016. More plants per gallon: Irrigation scheduling to grow better plants. Invited presentation MNLA GLTE, Lansing, MI January 25, 2016

  • Fernandez, R.T. 2016. Irrigation distribution, uniformity and efficiency. Invited presentation MNLA GLTE, Lansing, MI January 25, 2016

  • Fernandez, R.T., Organizer. 2015. Its all about water and increasing your bottom line. Conference with 8 nationally known speakers and tour of 4 cutting edge greenhouse and nursery operations for growers, faculty, extension staff, and students. Sponsored by MSU AgBio Research, MSUE, MNLA, SCRI WateR3. July 28-29, 2015, Grand Rapids, MI

  • Fernandez, R.T. 2015. Plants on the radio: Tracking plants with RFID. Invited presentation MNLA GLTE, Lansing, MI January 26, 2015

  • Fernandez, R.T. 2015. Understanding costs to improve nursery profitability. Invited presentation MNLA GLTE, Lansing, MI January 26, 2015

  • Fernandez, R.T. 2015. Making sense of irrigation scheduling: Scheduling with moisture sensors. Invited presentation MNLA GLTE, Lansing, MI January 26, 2015

  • Fernandez, R.T. 2014. Using RFID as inventory management and decision support tools for the green industries. Invited presentation Nursery and Garden Industry of Queensland, August 13, 2014, Brisbane, Australia.

  • Fernandez, R.T. 2014. Testing nursery substrate physical and chemical properties. Summer Nursery Discussions Series July 24, 2014, Allendale, MI

  • Lea-Cox, J., M. van Iersel, and R.T. Fernandez. 2014. Improving operation profitability via wise water use. Invited presentation Cultivate14, AmericanHort Conference and Trade Show, Columbus, OH

  • Lea-Cox, J., M. van Iersel, and R.T. Fernandez. 2014. Hands-on Lab: Improving operation profitability via wise water use. Invited presentation Cultivate14, AmericanHort Conference and Trade Show, Columbus, OH

  • Fernandez, R.T. 2014. RFID: How it works and what it can do for you. Invited presentation Cultivate14, AmericanHort Conference and Trade Show, Columbus, OH

  • Fernandez, R.T. 2014. Not just another pretty plant: Using plants for improving water resources. Meadow Brook Garden Club. April 25, 2014

  • Fernandez, R.T. 2014. Phytoremediation: Putting plants to work. Kalamazoo Area interested citizens. Portage, MI April 15, 2014

  • Fernandez, R.T. 2014. Winter in the Garden … I’m so over that. Plants with Winter (and other) Season Interest. Capital Area Master Gardeners, East Lansing, MI Feb. 4, 2014.

  •  Fernandez, R.T. 2014. Something old, something new: Trees and shrubs for Michigan. Invited presentation MSUE Plants of Distinction Program. Grand Rapids (Feb 3) and Novi (Feb 4).

  •  Fernandez, R.T. 2014. Do your plants have a drinking problem? Managing irrigation to improve plant growth and quality. Invited presentation Idaho Horticulture Expo, Boise, ID. January 23, 2014

  •  Fernandez, R.T. 2014. It’ll cost you: Not understanding costs of production reduces nursery profitability. Invited presentation Idaho Horticulture Expo, Boise, ID. January 23, 2014

  •  Fernandez, R.T. 2014. Stemming the off-site tide: Managing nursery irrigation and runoff. Invited presentation Ohio Nursery Short Course, Columbus OH. January 13, 2014

  •  Fernandez, R.T. 2014. Keeping it cool: The challenges of overwintering plants in Michigan. Invited presentation MNLA GLTE, Grand Rapids, MI January 6, 2014

  •  Fernandez, R.T. 2014. How water quality, substrates and irrigation management affects container plant production and movement of nutrients and pesticides. Invited presentation MNLA GLTE, Grand Rapids, MI January 6, 2014

Horticulture Teaching and Research Center

I am the faculty coordinator for the Horticulture Teaching and Research Center 2001-present. I am responsible for facilitating research at the HTRC for faculty programs in Horticulture and other MSU departments. I try to ensure that faculty members have fair access to HTRC facilities and services and that there are no insurmountable obstacles to establishing and conducting research, teaching or outreach programs at the HTRC. I am responsible for determining user fees and establishing the HTRC budget and long-term planning to maintain infrastructure. I supervise the farm manager, Bill Chase.

HTRC use in 2008: 

  • 20 Horticulture courses use the HTRC
  • 90 projects by Horticulture faculty
  • 7 projects by other CANR departments
  • 2 projects by USDA.

Recent major capital improvements at the HRTC (coordinated with Bill Chase, Lorri Busick and others): deer fence installation, compressor replacement for main building coolers, winery mold remediation and cooler improvement (modified from 2 to 3 coolers), skid steer and tree spade acquisition, main irrigation well refurbished.

For more information, go to the HTRC website.

Program Areas

Ornamental and Landscape Ecology

Water management and quality for nursery production including source water quality, irrigation management and runoff water quality and management.

North Central Multi-state Project 1186, Founding member 2008, Chair, 2008 – 2010; Past-chair 2010 - present: Co-developer of multi-state project Water Management and Quality for Ornamental Crop Production and Health. I initiated this project with Dr. John Lea-Cox of the University of Maryland in Feb. 2008 with the intent of focusing on water management and quality concerns at a national level related to the ornamental industry. The purpose is to foster multi-institution and multi-disciplinary research and outreach in this focus area. Currently the development committee consists of members from all 4 national regions including members from all ten of the top ten nursery production states.

 

Science Education

The Horticulture Teaching and Research Center