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Cale A. Bigelow, Daniel C. Bowman, and D. Keith Cassel

sand-based rootzones are specified for golf course putting greens because they resist compaction and maintain drainage, even under heavy traffic. Although sands provide favorable physical properties, nutrient retention is generally poor and soluble nutrients like nitrogen (N) are prone to leaching. Laboratory experiments were conducted to evaluate several inorganic soil amendments (clinoptilolite zeolite (CZ), diatomaceous earth, and two porous ceramics), which varied in cation exchange capacity (CEC), and sphagnum peat for their ability to limit N leaching. Columns (35 cm tall × 7.6 cm diameter) were filled with 30 cm of sand-amendment mixtures (8:2 v/v) and NH4NO3 was applied in solution at a N rate of 50 kg·ha-1. Leaching was initiated immediately using 2.5 pore volumes of distilled water in a continuous pulse. Leachate was collected in 0.1 pore volume aliquots and analyzed for NH4 +-N and NO3 --N. All amendments significantly decreased NH4 + leaching from 27% to 88% which was directly proportional to the CEC of the amendments. By contrast, NO3 - losses were consistently high, and no amendment effectively decreased loss compared to nonamended sand. Two amendments with the highest CECs, CZ and a porous ceramic, were selected to further study the effects of amendment incorporation rate, depth, and incubation time on N leaching. Ammonium but not NO3 - leaching was decreased with increasing amendment rate of both products. At 10% amendment (v/v) addition, only 17% to 33% of applied NH4 + leached from the amended sands. Depth of amendment incorporation significantly affected NH4 + leaching, with uniform distribution through the entire 30 cm tall column being more effective than placement within the upper 2.5 or 15 cm. Allowing the NH4NO3 to incubate for 12 or 24 hours following application generally did not affect the amount leached. These results suggest NH4 +-N leaching is inversely related to CEC of the root-zone mixture and that uniform distribution of these CEC enhancing amendments in the root-zone mixtures reduced N leaching to a greater extent than nonuniform distribution.

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William C. Fonteno, Matthew S. Drzal, and D. Keith Cassel

The influence of substrate physical properties on water transport and plant growth must be known if irrigation water use efficiency is to be improved. Three fundamentally different substrates were examined: 1 peat moss: 1 vermiculite (v/v), 3 pine bark: 1 peat: 1 sand, and 1 mineral soil: 1 peat: 1 sand. Capacity analyses included total porosity, container capacity, air space, available water and unavailable water. Water transport was characterized by saturated and unsaturated flow analyses. A new method, Pore Fraction Analysis, was developed to characterize substrate pore structure into fractions based on function with the substrate. This method is based on soil moisture retention curves, pore size distributions, and average effective suction at container capacity (AEScc) This method is offered to expand the traditional terms of macropore and micropore into new definitions: macropores, mesopores, micropore, and ultramicropore; each based on a range of pore sizes and functions. Computer simulation models of air and water profiles were run on several container sizes with the three test substrates. Pore fraction analysis indicated that under traditional production practices macropores indicate the volume of a substrate that be filled with air at container capacity, the mesopore fraction effectively fills and drains with daily irrigation, the micropore fraction functions as a measure of water reserve, while the ultramicropores contain water unavailable to the plant.