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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: IMPACT OF SOIL RESOURCE MANAGEMENT ON SOIL BIOCHEMICAL AND CHEMICAL PROCESSES Title: Above ground responses of three cool-season lawn species to varying annual nitrogen rates and application timings

Authors
item Walker, K - PURDUE UNIVERSITY
item Bigelow, C - PURDUE UNIVERSITY
item Smith, Douglas
item Van Scoyoc, G - PURDUE UNIVERSITY
item Reicher, Z - PURDUE UNIVERSITY

Submitted to: Crop Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: March 15, 2007
Publication Date: May 31, 2007
Repository URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10113/14930
Citation: Walker, K.S., Bigelow, C.A., Smith, D.R., Van Scoyoc, G.E., Reicher, Z.J. 2007. Above ground responses of three cool-season lawn species to varying annual nitrogen rates and application timings. Crop Science. 47:1225-1236.

Interpretive Summary: Lawns are the largest managed turf areas in the United States and generally require at least one annual nitrogen application to maintain an appealing green color and to promote growth. This large acreage of fertilized turf has created public concern regarding N-fertilizer misuse, which may negatively affect water quality. This study evaluated the effects of eight nitrogen fertilization programs which varied by amount of nitrogen applied and seasonal application timing on the above-ground plant responses of the principal cool-season lawn species: Kentucky bluegrass, perennial ryegrass, and turf-type tall fescue. Dry matter yield, visual turfgrass quality, and canopy greenness all increased with increasing annual N rates. Turf-type tall fescue had the highest dry matter yield. Kentucky bluegrass generally possessed the greenest canopy. Visual turf quality was highest and most seasonally consistent for turf-type tall fescue. Although, Kentucky bluegrass had an overall lower visual turf quality compared to turf-type tall fescue, primarily due to slow spring green-up, Kentucky bluegrass was superior to turf-type tall fescue on many dates during active growth. Perennial ryegrass had significantly lower visual turf quality compared to turf-type tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass, primarily due to substantial turf cover losses, 24-81 % in 2005 from summer diseases. If the goal in lawn management is to maximize turfgrass responses with minimal nitrogen inputs, the most consistent species was turf-type tall fescue, since it produced acceptable visual turf quality, color, and had less disease at relatively low, 73 - 123 kg ha-1 yr-1, nitrogen application rates. By contrast a predominantly Kentucky bluegrass or perennial ryegrass lawn appears to require > 123 kg N ha-1 yr-1 to maintain acceptable visual turf quality and color. The impact of this work is to provide nitrogen fertilizer applications for lawns in the humid Midwest, based on the species of the turf, and the desired lawn appearance.

Technical Abstract: Lawns represent the largest managed turf areas in the United States and generally require at least one annual nitrogen (N) application to maintain an aesthetically pleasing green color and promote growth. This large acreage of fertilized turf has created public concern regarding N-fertilizer misuse which may negatively affect water quality. This two and one half year field study evaluated the effects of eight N-programs which varied by N amount, 0 – 196 kg N ha-1 yr-1, and seasonal application timing on the above-ground plant responses of the principal cool-season lawn species: Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) (KBG), perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) (PRG), and turf-type tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb.) (TTTF). Dry matter yield (DMY), visual turfgrass quality (TQ), and canopy greenness all increased with increasing annual N rates. Significant species DMY differences were measured for the study with 9,426, 7,750, and 7,011 kg ha-1 for TTTF, KBG, and PRG, respectively. KBG generally possessed the greenest canopy, as measured by reflectance, when averaged across all N-programs followed by TTTF and PRG. Annual TQ was highest and most seasonally consistent for TTTF when averaged across all N-programs and study years, followed by KBG and PRG. Although, KBG had an overall lower TQ compared to TTTF, primarily due to slow spring green-up, KBG was superior to TTTF on many dates during active growth. Perennial ryegrass had significantly lower TQ compared to TTTF and KBG, primarily due to substantial turf cover losses, 24-81 % in 2005 from summer diseases. If the goal in lawn management is to maximize turfgrass responses with minimal N inputs, the most consistent species was TTTF, since it produced acceptable TQ, color, and had less disease at relatively low, 73 - 123 kg ha-1 yr-1, N levels. By contrast a predominantly KBG or PRG lawn appears to require > 123 kg N ha-1 yr-1 to maintain acceptable TQ and color. For PRG, even 196 kg N ha-1 may not be enough to promote significant vigor to contend with summer diseases.

Last Modified: 11/23/2014
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