Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: PROTECTING SURFACE AND GROUND WATERS IN EMERGING FARMING SYSTEMS OF THE NORTH CENTRAL UNITED STATES

Location: Soil and Water Management Research

Title: Evaluation of nitrogen and phosphorus transport with runoff from fairway turf managed with hollow tine core cultivation and verticutting

Authors
item Rice, Pamela
item Horgan, Brian -

Submitted to: Science of the Total Environment
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 10, 2013
Publication Date: April 15, 2013
Repository URL: http://handle.nal.usda.gov/10113/57470
Citation: Rice, P.J., Horgan, B.P. 2013. Evaluation of nitrogen and phosphorus transport with runoff from fairway turf managed with hollow tine core cultivation and verticutting. Science of the Total Environment. 456-457(2013):61-68.

Interpretive Summary: The enrichment of surface waters with excess nutrients is associated with increased algal blooms, euthrophication and hypoxic zones, as reported in the northern Gulf of Mexico. A source of nutrients to surface waters results from fertilizer runoff. Our previous research demonstrated that hollow tine core cultivation (HT) was more effective than solid tine core cultivation at reducing nutrient runoff from creeping bentgrass turf managed as a golf course fairway. The objective of this study was to measure the off-site transport of nutrients with runoff from turf plots managed with HT or HT with verticutting (HT-VC) to determine whether the additional management practice reduced or enhanced off-site nutrient transport. With the exception of nitrate nitrogen, greater runoff volumes and quantities of nutrients (soluble phosphorus, ammonium nitrogen) transported with runoff were measured from plots managed with HT-VC compared to plots managed with HT. Runoff-to-surface water scenarios were used to calculate estimated environmental concentrations of phosphorus and nitrogen in surface water receiving runoff from turf. For both management practices the surface water concentrations of phosphorus were equivalent to or above the U.S. EPA’s water quality criteria to limit eutrophication in lakes or reservoirs or streams draining into them. Nitrogen concentrations were below levels associated with increased algal growth for all management scenarios. Overall, the addition of verticutting to hollow tine core cultivation did not reduce the off-site transport of nutrients with runoff. Results of this research equip golf course managers with additional information when selecting management practices that will provide quality turf while minimizing impacts on surrounding environments.

Technical Abstract: Enrichment of surface waters with excess nutrients is associated with increased algal blooms, euthrophication and hypoxic zones, as reported in the northern Gulf of Mexico. A source of nutrients to surface waters results from fertilizer runoff. Management strategies used to maintain turf on golf courses and recreational fields often includes aerification and application of fertilizer.Although research exists on benefits of core cultivation and verticutting (VC) to reduce thatch and the transport of applied chemicals with runoff, there are no studies reporting the effect of coupling these management practices with the goal of further reduction of off-site transport of fertilizer with runoff. We hypothesized, the addition of VC to hollow tine core cultivation (HTCC) would enhance infiltration of precipitation, reduce runoff and nutrient transport with runoff and therefore influence concentrations of nutrients in surface waters receiving runoff from turf managed as a golf course fairway. Greater runoff and mass of soluble phosphorus and ammonium nitrogen transported with runoff were measured from plots managed with HTCC+VC than HTCC; however, the reverse was noted for nitrate nitrogen. Only a portion of the observed trends proved to be statistically significant. Our research showed no reduction or enhancement of risk associated with surface water concentrations of phosphorus or nitrogen, resulting from runoff from creeping bentgrass turf that was managed with HTCC+VC compared to HTCC. Data obtained in this research will be useful to grounds superintendents when selecting best management practices and to scientist seeking data relating runoff to land management for watershed-scale modeling.

Last Modified: 8/30/2014