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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: IMPROVING SOILS FOR TURFGRASS PRODUCTION IN APPALACHIA
2009 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

An ongoing experiment to test the efficacy of using digested poultry litter by-products for establishing vegetation on mining spoils was sampled for plant species development, percent of ground cover and microbial population diversity. At this point in the development (year.
3)of the site, the liquid digest and inorganic fertilizer appear about equal. ARS and the cooperator are working with the NRCS to develop a soil rating for stormwater management land uses for WV. Initial discussion, leading to the establishment of a group of experts to advise from their respective fields of expertise on the development of the rating tool was assembled. The group met at the ARS facilities on June-24 providing recommendations for the rating. The development of the soil-rating tool is in progress.

Cooperator and an ARS Post Doc evaluated the use of slag from several iron and steel smelting operations as a potential soil-liming agent compared to conventional Aglime. A pot study was conducted to evaluate uptake of heavy metals from the slag by test plants. Experiment was concluded and plant material awaits metal analysis.

Together with the NRCS, ARS and the cooperator are evaluating the growth and water use of selected grasses under simulated rain garden conditions (repeated flooding events) in a bucket experiment. The experiment established in late spring and will be carried throughout the growing season. Behavior of selected metals, nutrients, and applied bacteria are monitored in the leachate as well. Two posters, summarizing a study of use of quarry and poultry litter byproducts in turf grass growing media, were presented at the annual agronomy meeting in Houston, TX.

Monitoring was through email, weekly discussions and planning. Primary cooperator is stationed on site at the ARS facility.


Last Modified: 7/23/2014
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