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  • Author or Editor: Yang Li x
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Foliar application of fertilizers on turfgrass via overhead fertigation or spray can improve nutrient absorption efficiency and uniformity. Foliar fertilizers can also be combined with other chemical applications to save labor and energy. However, foliar application of nitrogen may result in root growth reduction. The objective of this study was to evaluate if a liquid organic amendment can be tank-mixed with liquid fertilizer to improve creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera) performance. This greenhouse study was conducted on ‘Penncross’ creeping bentgrass grown in sand or 90 sand:10 peat (v/v) root zones. Three fertilizer packages (4N–0P–0.8K, 29N–0.9P–2.5K, and 20N–8.8P–16.6K) with or without the organic amendment, a liquid suspension derived from naturally mined humic materials, were tested in the study. Tank-mixing organic amendment resulted in better or same turfgrass visual quality and lower clipping yield compared with foliar fertilization alone. Tank-mixing organic amendment in liquid fertilizers resulted in an average increase of root/shoot biomass ratio from 0.62 to 0.65 grown in the sand-based root zones. The effect of organic amendment was shown in all liquid fertilizers tested except 20N–8.8P–16.6K. The results showed tank-mixing organic amendment with the right liquid fertilizer can reduce mowing frequency without reducing the turf quality. Field work is needed to test if the increased root/shoot biomass ratio by tank-mixing organic amendment with liquid fertilizer can contribute to drought tolerance in creeping bentgrass maintained at fairway height in sand-based root zones.

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Petroleum-based spills on turfgrass often occur during lawn care maintenance. Damage caused by diesel and hydraulic fluid is particularly difficult to correct. The objective of this study was to compare the effectiveness of combining mulching with remediation for reseeding spilled areas in lawns. Diesel and hydraulic fluid were applied to plots at a rate of 15 L·m−2. Immediately after the spill treatments, two liquid humic amendments and an activated flowable charcoal were applied at a volume rate of 8 L·m−2, respectively, with tap water/dishwashing detergent used as a control. Nitrate nitrogen was added to each remediation treatment to facilitate remediation. The spilled areas were reseeded with perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne) and then mulched with biochar, peat pellets, and paper pellets, respectively. At 6 weeks after seeding, humic amendment 1 and activated charcoal showed better turf quality than humic amendment 2. Peat pellet mulching presented better turf quality than other mulching methods. Reseeding perennial ryegrass and mulching with peat pellets after remediation with either humic amendment 1 or activated charcoal resulted in acceptable turf quality 6 weeks after diesel and hydraulic fluid spills. Therefore, this reestablishment method is recommended as a practical way to deal with diesel or hydraulic fluid spills in cool-season turfgrasses.

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Deicing salts often are applied to sidewalks and roadways to enhance pedestrian and driving safety during freezing weather. For example, in eastern North Dakota, average annual snow days and amount are 29 days and 40 inches, respectively. This study was conducted in Fargo, ND, to investigate the population dynamics of turfgrass mixtures composed of kentucky bluegrass [KB (Poa pratensis)], creeping red fescue [RF (Festuca rubra)], and alkaligrass [ALK (Puccinellia sp.)] with the goal of optimizing turf quality by selecting seed ratios containing these species in home lawn mixtures and subject to frequent applications of deicing salts. A total of 21 mixtures were generated based on simplex-lattice design with KB, ALK, and RF contributing to 0%, 20%, 40%, 60%, 80%, and 100% of their respective full-seeding rate of 150, 150, and 300 lb/acre, respectively, after pure live seed (PLS) adjustment. The mixtures were tested at annual deicing salt rates of 0, 160, 320 lb/acre, which represent typical application. The results showed that the botanical component of the stands of grasses shifted over a 2-year period for all salt levels. Despite the good salinity tolerance of ALK reported elsewhere, it did not contribute to the improvement of turf quality in mixtures receiving deicing salts at 320 lb/acre per year. Therefore, ALK is not recommended for lawn, but mixing KB and RF in 48% and 52% of their respective full-seeding rates was recommended for areas adjacent to deicing salt applications.

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In this study, the effects of light-emitting diode (LED) panels with different illumination schedules and mounted above butterhead lettuce (Lactuca sativa var. capitata) seedlings on lettuce growth and photosynthesis were examined, and the performance of the vertical and horizontal movable system on energy savings was evaluated. The illumination schedules used were fixed LED [F-LED (four LED panels illuminated the area below)] and movable LED [M-LED (two LED panels moved left and right once per day to illuminate the same area as F-LED)] at distances of 10 and 30 cm above the seedlings. The plant yields were uniform in all LED treatments. The highest light utilization efficiencies and lowest electricity consumption were found for the treatments with irradiation from a shorter distance above the seedlings. The true leaf numbers and ascorbic acid concentrations were the highest in the M-LED and F-LED treatments at a distance above the seedlings of 10 cm, while the leaf lengths and sucrose concentrations in these groups were significantly lower than those in the 30-cm treatment. These results indicate that illumination with M-LED can halve the initial light source input while maintaining yield and that sustained illumination from a shorter distance above the seedlings is the main factor in electricity savings.

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Wind tunnel tests were conducted in an NH-2-type wind tunnel to investigate the wind pressure coefficients and their distribution on the surfaces of a single-span plastic greenhouse and a solar greenhouse. Wind pressures at numerous points on the surfaces of the greenhouse models were simultaneously measured for various wind directions. The critical wind speeds, at which damage occurred on the surfaces of single-span plastic greenhouses and solar greenhouses, were derived. To clearly describe the wind pressure distribution on various surface zones of the greenhouses, the end surface and top surface of the plastic greenhouse and the transparent surface of the solar greenhouse were divided into nine zones, which were denoted as Zone I to Zone IX. The results were as follows: 1) At wind direction angles of 0° and 45°, the end surface of the single-span plastic greenhouse was on the windward side, and the maximum positive wind pressure coefficient was near 1. At wind direction angles of 90° and 180°, the entire end surface of the single-span plastic greenhouse was on the leeward side, and the maximum negative wind pressure coefficient was near −1. The maximum positive wind pressure on the end surface of the single-span plastic greenhouse appeared in Zone IV at a wind direction angle of 15°, whereas the maximum negative pressure appeared in Zone VIII at a wind direction angle of 105°. 2) Most of the wind pressure coefficients on the top surface of the plastic greenhouse were negative. The maximum positive and negative wind pressure coefficient on the top surface of the plastic greenhouse occurred in Zones I and II, respectively, at a wind direction angle of 60°. 3) At a wind direction angle of 0°, the distribution of wind pressure coefficient contours was steady in the middle and lower zones of the transparent surface of the solar greenhouse, and the wind pressure coefficients were positive. At a wind direction angle of 90°, the wind pressure coefficients were negative on the transparent surface of the solar greenhouse. A maximum positive wind pressure coefficient was attained at a wind direction angle of 30° in Zone IX, whereas the maximum suction force occurred in Zone VII at a wind direction angle of 135°. 4) The minimum critical wind speeds required to impair the single-span plastic greenhouse and solar greenhouse were 14.5 and 18.9 m·s−1, respectively.

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The method of returning banana (Musa nana) pseudostems to the field can effectively maintain and improve the level of organic matter in the soil. In this article, we show that a small vertical-type banana pseudostem chopper can be used in banana plantations that do not need to be replanted. The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship among the blade type, cutting force, and cutting power. The effects of the blade roll angles, pitch angles, and feeding angles on the crushing qualification rate and crushing efficiency were obtained by comparing the decomposition characteristics of a banana pseudostem before and after crushing. The results showed that the arc-shaped blade exhibited the smallest cutting force and cutting power consumption. The maximum crush qualification rate and crush efficiency were obtained when the roll angle was 12°, the pitch angle was −5°, and the feeding angle was 5°. The weight reduction rate and average decomposition rate of the crushed pseudostem were 2.73 and 3.61 times greater than those of natural decomposition, respectively. The results can be used as a reference for the design and optimization of banana pseudostem choppers.

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This research was initiated to determine the response of apple (Malus ×domestica) fruit quality to sprays of zinc sulfate (ZnSO4) and sugar alcohol zinc. Two apple cultivars Fuji and Gala were evaluated, the leaf zinc (Zn) concentration of which were about 14.3 mg·kg−1 dry weight without Zn deficiency symptoms. The trees were sprayed with ZnSO4 and sugar alcohol zinc separately during four different developmental stages: 2 weeks before budbreak (P1), 3 weeks after bloom (P2), the termination of spring shoot growth (P3), and 4 weeks before harvest (P4). The fruit was harvested at maturity and analyzed for fruit quality and fruit Zn concentration. Zinc sprays during the four different developmental stages increased Zn concentration of peeled and washed fruit at harvest, without phytotoxicity. The treatments at stages P2 and P4 increased average fruit weight of ‘Gala’ and ‘Fuji’, respectively. The treatments at stages P1 and P4 increased the fruit firmness of ‘Gala’, while the treatments at stages P1 and P2 increased the fruit firmness of ‘Fuji’. The treatments at stages P1, P2, and P4 increased the soluble sugar and vitamin C of ‘Gala’ fruit, while the treatments at all the stages increased the soluble sugar and vitamin C of ‘Fuji’. And the effects of sugar alcohol zinc were equal and more pronounced than those of ZnSO4. Thus, Zn sprays at critical periods can improve fruit quality of apple trees, which show no Zn deficiency symptoms with leaf Zn concentration less than 15 mg·kg−1 dry weight.

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Water is essential for crops and plays a vital role in olive (Olea europaea) growth. Three irrigation treatments, rain-fed (CK), flood irrigation (FI), and drip irrigation (DI), were applied from late November to late May in a 2-year study (Nov. 2015 to Oct. 2017) on two olive cultivars, Coratina and Koroneiki. Shoot growth, flower and fruit characteristics, and olive and oil yields were measured. Compared with CK, FI had significantly higher values of vegetative growth, olive and oil yields, moisture content, and oil content. Although the fruit weight, pulp rate, and oil content with DI were the lowest, our results support that DI had the greatest positive effects on olive vegetative growth, flowers, fruit set, and olive and oil yields. It is suggested that DI in winter and spring is the best irrigation strategy for olive productivity in southwest China.

Open Access

Scion wood of ‘Caddo’ and ‘Desirable’ pecan (Carya illinoinensis) was grafted onto the epicotyl of 1-month-old, open-pollinated ‘Shaoxing’ pecan seedlings for evaluation as a grafting technique to reduce the time to produce grafted trees. The results showed that seedlings grafted with “base scions” had higher survival than those grafted with “terminal scions” for both ‘Caddo’ and ‘Desirable’. Also, grafting with paraffinic tape could achieve greater success rate than that with medical tape. The most ideal time to perform this grafting was late April in Nanjing, China, when pecan seedlings were about 35 days old. This study demonstrated that the technique yielded successful epicotyl grafting of >70%, and it could thus be applied in practice.

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The availability and cost of agricultural labor is constraining the specialty crop industry throughout the United States. Most soft fruits destined for the fresh market are fragile and are usually hand harvested to maintain optimal quality and postharvest longevity. However, because of labor shortages, machine harvest options are being explored out of necessity. A survey on machine harvest of blueberries (Vaccinium sp.) for fresh market was conducted in 2015 and 2016 in seven U.S. states and one Canadian province. Survey respondents totaled 223 blueberry producers of various production sizes and scope. A majority (61%) indicated that their berries were destined for fresh markets with 33% machine harvested for this purpose. Eighty percent said that they thought fruit quality was the limiting factor for machine-harvested blueberries destined for fresh markets. Many producers had used mechanized harvesters, but their experience varied greatly. Just less than half (47%) used mechanical harvesters for fewer than 5 years. Most respondents indicated that labor was a primary concern, as well as competing markets and weather. New technologies that reduce harvesting constraints, such as improvements to harvest machinery and packing lines, were of interest to most respondents. Forty-five percent stated they would be interested in using a modified harvest-aid platform with handheld shaking devices if it is viable (i.e., fruit quality and picking efficiency is maintained and the practice is cost effective). Overall, the survey showed that blueberry producers have great concerns with labor costs and availability and are open to exploring mechanization as a way to mitigate the need for hand-harvest labor.

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