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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: IMPROVING SOILS FOR TURFGRASS PRODUCTION IN APPALACHIA
2011 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
The objective of this cooperative research project is to improve soil for turf and amenity grass production. Major components of this research effort include developing technologies and management practices to overcome soil limitations to turf and amenity grass establishment and use; developing specifications for physical, chemical, and/or biological soil characteristics for turf applications; investigating the potential for using agricultural and industrial by-products in turf production and establishment.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
The approach of this research will be (a) to develop specifications for physical, chemical, and/or biological soil characteristics for specified amenity grass uses and (b) to develop and test approaches for meeting these specifications using agricultural and/or industrial by-products as a soil amendment. Organic materials resulting from thermophilic anaerobic digestion of agricultural wastes are known to have biological value. As part of the multi-disciplinary Bioplex project, investigators at WVSU have developed recommended practices for the use of digested, poultry-litter solids and liquids as replacements for commercial fertilizers in row and vegetable crops. This project builds upon these research efforts by testing the potential for improving the chemical, physical, and biological characteristics of amenity grass soils using combinations of digested agricultural and/or industrial by-products as amendments.


3.Progress Report

Identification of locally available, cost effective, materials for Storm-water management systems was a critical issue in West Virginia. Collaboration with regional industrial quarry operations was established and quarry byproducts from different geologic formations were evaluated as quarts-sand replacement in soil mixes. Some of the findings were implemented in a field study. Local vendor and end-users were guided on the use and development of commercial soil mix products for selected land-uses. These practices have been adopted by one local construction company and products are being offered for sale and local use.

Collaboration was established with state and federal government and universities to develop soil rating tool for storm-water management practices in West Virginia. A partnership was developed with soil vendors, end-users, and state and local governments to develop management practices and soil mixes to achieve land-use goals. One such practice (bio-infiltration system) was established in collaboration with a local city government and the performance of the developed soil mix and storm water management system are being monitored. This research has resulted in the creation of soil rating tool for storm water management practices for West Virginia which will be placed on the USDA-NRCS web page for general use by farmers, contractors and political units. A recent by-product of energy development is biochar. Collaboration was established with ARS scientists at the Southern Regional Research Center (SRRC) and the Eastern Regional Research Center (ERRC), and with private industry to provide biochar from different feedstock and processing procedures. Feedstock and pyrolysis process and biochar activation effect on biochar properties were evaluated. Chicken manure biochar from different processing schemes applied at different application rates was evaluated as nutrient and liming source to a typical Appalachian acid soil. Leaching of dissolved organic carbon and nitrogen, nutrients and metals was evaluated. Recommended practices for enhancing soil fertility under environmentally sound biochar application rates were derived. Disc agglomeration techniques were developed to assure safe, effective, beneficial processing, handling and delivery of biochar as a surface applied soil amendment.

ADODR contact has been through phone and email messaging, quarterly meetings and mutual sampling on site.


Last Modified: 12/20/2014
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