Wednesday, November 4, 2009
Convention Center, Exhibit Hall BC, Second Floor
Managers of high-use turf areas such as athletic fields are progressively more interested in management practices that maintain turf quality while protecting the environment. One management practice receiving increasing attention is the use of natural organic fertilizers (e.g. manure or compost) to supplement or replace synthetic fertilizers. A two-year study was conducted to evaluate turfgrass response to the application of pelletized poultry litter (PPL) as a nutrient source on three high school athletic fields. The study design in each field was a stratified complete block with three blocks, five replications (four replications on one field), and four treatments. The treatments were: vibrating aeration with synthetic fertilizer (VS), core aeration with synthetic fertilizer (CS), vibrating aeration with PPL (VP), and core aeration with PPL (CP). The CS treatment was the standard treatment on these fields. The PPL (4-2-3 analysis) was applied at a nitrogen (N) rate equivalent to the synthetic fertilizer assuming 50% availability of N. Soil and turfgrass samples, multi-spectral remote sensing, and soil penetrometer readings were taken prior to the start of the study, and before the application of each treatment.
Application of PPL did not result in any significant changes in measured soil parameters, and little change in tissue concentrations, when compared to the synthetic fertilizer treatments. This is likely because soil nutrients were applied at nearly equivalent rates, but could also be due to the relatively short duration of the study. However, using the ratio of near infrared reflectance to green reflectance, remote sensing indicated that the standard management practice (CS) produced the lowest turfgrass quality. Highest turf quality was achieved with the CP and VS treatments. Application of PPL increased turfgrass quality regardless of aeration method.