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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

2008 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

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 on anaerobic digestion by-products at WVSU and previous research at the AFSRC on the use of coal-combustion by-products as soil amendments. Project research is evaluating 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.

A factorial field experiment was established during 2007 (a complete randomized block design, with four replications) including different soil amendments (none, liquid, or solids of the digester), application rates, and vegetation cover treatments, on a mining reclamation site in south central West Virginia. Selected chemical (e.g., pH, CEC), biological (e.g., total bacteria, fungal, enzyme activity), and physical (e.g., aggregate stability, water holding capacity) soil properties, as well as vegetation performances, are being evaluated semi-annually and compared to a non-treated control. Preliminary results demonstrate differential species survival on the different treatments. Chemical analyses are in process.

This SCA aligns with NP 202, Soil Resource Management; Problem Area 2: Soil Management to Improve Soil Structure and Hydraulic Properties; Problem Area 5: Adoption and Implementation of Soil and Water Conservation Practices and Systems; Focus Area 1: Improved knowledge and technologies to expand the development and use of new conservation systems; and Problem Area 9: Remediation of Degraded Soils.

ADODR oversight and resource management of this project has been primarily via phone, email and monthly meetings with the WVSU Post Doctoral Associate.

Last Modified: 4/21/2014
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