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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: IMPROVING SOILS FOR TURFGRASS PRODUCTION IN APPALACHIA
2007 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
This report documents research conducted under a specific cooperative agreement between ARS and West Virginia State University (WVSU). Additional details of research can be found in the report for the in-house associated project 1932-12000-004-00D, Managing Biogeochemical Cycles and Rhizosphere Ecology for Sustainable Production of Appalachian Pasture and Amenity Grasses.

The National Turfgrass Initiative identified (a) the use of agricultural and municipal by-products as soil amendments and (b) the development of improved soil management practices for the restoration of degraded lands as key priorities for turfgrass research. This SCA builds upon existing research into anaerobic digestion by-products at WVSU and previous research at the AFSRC into the use of coal-combustion by-products as soil amendments to evaluate the potential for improving the chemical, physical, and biological properties of degraded soils using combinations of agricultural and/or industrial by-products. Successful completion of this research will provide new options for the management of turf and amenity grass soils using agricultural and/or industrial by-products that promote or maintain production while reducing the agricultural waste stream.

Progress: A postdoctoral research associate was hired by West Virginia State University in March, 2006 (housed at the AFSRC lab in Beaver, WV). A literature review of desired soil characteristics for turfgrass soils and restoration applications was completed during the summer of 2006. Findings are currently being summarized into a review article that specifies desirable soil properties and the agricultural and/or industrial by-products that may be used to meet these specifications. Agricultural, municipal, and industrial waste products within the Appalachian region (e.g., animal manures, mine spoil, quarry fines) were collected and transported to the AFSRC for physical and chemical characterization. Initial constructed soil mixtures were then developed and tested in greenhouse trials for turf grass establishment, soil physical/chemical properties, water retention, and microbiological properties. Experiments were conducted to mitigate the high levels of potential alkalinity in mixtures constructed using quarry fines and results correlated with soil-plant systems (as determined in greenhouse experiments).

This project is linked with SCA 58-1932-6-0636 (“Soil Management for Turf Applications”) through collaborative research with Virginia Tech. AFSRC scientists hosted Kevin Morris (Director, National Turfgrass Initiative), Michael McKenna (Director of Greens Research, U.S. Golf Association) and Jim Snow (Director of Greens, U.S. Golf Association) in June, 2006 to discuss progress and upcoming plans for constructed soils research. A customer workshop is being planned for the Fall of 2007.

The postdoctoral research associate conducting work under this agreement is located at an ARS facility. As such, monitoring is done through scheduled weekly team meetings, technical advice to cooperator personnel, and on/off site meetings and email correspondence with cooperators.


Last Modified: 9/10/2014
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