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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Watershed Characterization of Managed Turf
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Rationale:

  • Approximately 50,000,000 acres of turf in US.
  • Turf is most in intensively managed landuse in the urban landscape.
  • Turf rivals agricultural crops such as corn and soybeans as the primary landuse in several states.
  • Public perception identifies managed turf, especially golf courses as significantly contributing to nonpoint source pollution.

Goal:

  • Assess and characterize the environmental aspects of urban and golf course turf

 

 

Objective:

  • Quantify long-term watershed scale hydrology and water quality aspects of managed turf

Approach:

  • Measure storm event and baseflow hydrology and water quality from three managed turf sites in three varying climatic regions on surface runoff and baseflow and collect water quality samples.

Findings:

  • Discharge expressed as a fraction of rainfall is considerably greater compared to other land uses.
  • Measured nitrate concentrations contributed by the courses are well below drinking water standards.
  • Dissolved phosphorus concentrations generally exceed levels consistent with those known to lead to eutrophication.
  • Pesticide concentrations were generally low although seasonal spikes have been measured.
 

Objective:

  • Determine and quantify water quality contribution from different transport processes.

Approach:

  • Establish the partitioning of hydrology and water quality in baseflow, subsurface drainage and storm event runoff from managed turf by continuous measurement.

Findings:

  • Hydrology of subsurface drainage is significantly linked to irrigation.
  • 20-60% of pollutants exiting the site are cycled through the subsurface drainage network.
 

Objective:

  • Relate hydrology and water quality findings to turf management and evaluate turfgrass Best Management Practices.

Approach:

  • Correlate nutrient and pesticide losses to fertility, pest and irrigation management.

Findings:

  • Approximately 15% of the applied nitrogen is captured in discharge waters
  • Most significant phosphorus losses occur during turf dormancy
  • Reducing phosphorus application and modifying the irrigation strategy suggests a decrease in phosphorus concentration
 

WATERSHED CHARACTERIZATION OF MANAGED TURF (PDF)


Last Modified: 6/9/2009