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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: IMPROVING SOILS FOR TURFGRASS PRODUCTION IN APPALACHIA
2010 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 coal mine spoils was sampled for plant species development, percent of ground cover and microbial population diversity. At this point in the development (year.
4)of the site, the liquid digest appears to be superior. A soil assessment tool for use in determining the suitability of a site and soil for use in storm water infiltration swales has been developed, and is nearing its finalization and release through USDA-Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS).

Biochar from several sources and slag from several iron and steel smelting operations are being studied as potential soil-liming agents. Several greenhouse studies using potted soils have been made and the number of potential sources reduced and studied in more detail.

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 is being repeated for a second year. Behavior of selected metals, nutrients, and applied bacteria are monitored in the leachate as well.

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


Last Modified: 9/29/2014
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