Organic amendments, including municipal and animal sources of biosolids, can be applied to improve soil physical and chemical properties and turfgrass establishment, growth, and quality (McCoy, 1998). Although the amendments contribute total and soluble nutrients and organic C to soil (Johnson et al., 2006a), a high C- to-N ratio of composted municipal biosolids (CMB) reportedly limited turfgrass growth rate and development of dark green color (Linde and Hepner, 2005). If the balance of N mineralization over immobilization rates from organic amendments is insufficient to meet turfgrass requirements, supplemental fertilizer N applications could be needed (Flavel and Murphy, 2006). Turfgrass coverage rates and the duration between sod harvests will depend on management of fertilizer N and the organic amendment rates.
In addition to beneficial effects during turfgrass production, the CMB sources of nutrients removed during sod harvest could enhance establishment of the transplanted sod. These nutrients substitute for inorganic fertilizer applications on the transplanted sod (Johnson et al., 2006b). Yet, concentrations of soluble P and N in sod amended with CMB are directly related to concentrations and losses in runoff (Vietor et al., 2004a). The amount of CMB sources of nutrients exported in sod harvests needs to be evaluated in relation to inputs during production to assure that N and P are effectively managed without detrimental environmental impacts.
Previous studies of manure cycling through sod harvests indicated that up to 77% of total P and 47% of total N in surface applications were exported in a single sod harvest (2.5 cm depth) (Vietor et al., 2002). Incorporation of CMB within soil depths deeper than that of a single sod harvest is expected to reduce the portion of applied nutrients removed compared with top-dressing. Yet, incorporation could enable less frequent application of higher, volume-based rates of CMB than those applied through top-dressing. For the large, volume-based rates, the amount of CMB sources of nutrients in sod removed from a portion of the amended soil depth at harvest could be comparable to that in sod harvested after top-dressing of lesser rate of CMB. In addition, incorporation of CMB could reduce potential runoff loss of nutrients from sod during establishment and production and after transplanting to urban landscapes (Hansen et al., 2007).
The objectives of this study were to compare turfgrass coverage response and sod properties among establishment treatments with and without fertilizer N and incorporated CMB and to quantify export of CMB sources of total N and P with the sod layer at harvest.
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