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Baoxin Chang, Benjamin Wherley, Jacqueline Aitkenhead-Peterson, Nadezda Ojeda, Charles Fontanier and Philip Dwyer

Wetting agents have been widely used in the turf industry for ameliorating hydrophobic soil conditions and improving water use efficiency. However, limited information is available regarding potential benefits of wetting agents on fine textured soil lawns where wettable soils are commonly found, because most prior studies have been conducted in sand-based turf systems. This 2-year field study evaluated the potential for wetting agents to improve turf quality, as well as to reduce runoff losses of water and nutrients from st. augustinegrass [Stenotaphrum secundatum (Walt.) Kuntze] lawns. Over two seasons, turfgrass quality, percent green cover, and soil moisture in plots were evaluated in response to wetting agent and fertilizer treatments. During precipitation events, total runoff volumes were measured, as well as total export of nutrients including NO3-N, NH4-N, total dissolved N, dissolved organic N, dissolved organic C, and PO4-P. No runoff was detected from any treatments when precipitation was less than 13 mm. St. augustinegrass turfgrass quality and soil moisture were slightly improved by wetting agent and fertilizer treatments during the study, but no significant effects of either of the treatments were found on runoff volumes or nutrient exports. Although turf was managed under deficit irrigation levels of 0.3 × reference evapotranspiration, irrigation events were not withheld due to rainfall, and thus, little to no drought stress was observed during the study.

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Tim R. Pannkuk, Richard H. White, Kurt Steinke, Jacqueline A. Aitkenhead-Peterson, David R. Chalmers and James C. Thomas

Urban landscape irrigation is becoming increasingly important from a resource management point of view. Significant water use savings may be achieved if landscape irrigation is based on reference evapotranspiration (ETo). This study measured landscape crop coefficients (KL) for landscapes that are comprised of different vegetation types and irrigation water quality differences affecting KL. The KL was determined from the ratio of actual evapotranspiration to the ETo calculated from the modified Penman-Monteith equation. Irrigation quantity was based on 100% replacement of ETo. The KL values were determined for the following landscape vegetation on a fine sandy loam: St. Augustinegrass [Stenotaphrum secundatum (Walt.) Kuntze.], a single shumard red oak (Quercus shumardii Buckl.), St. Augustinegrass plus red oak, native grasses [Muhlenbergia capillaries (Lam.) Trin. and Schizachyrium scoparium (Michx.) Nash], and native grasses plus Red Oak in both College Station (CS) and San Antonio (SA), TX. Soil was systematically placed into lysimeters containing a drainage system and soil moisture probes. Lysimeters (1136 L) were placed in-ground in a randomized complete block design with three blocks. Soil moisture measurements were made at 0- to 20-, 20- to 40-, and 40- to 60-cm depths. The KL was determined after a rainfall or irrigation event for periods of 2 to 5 days. During the combined growing seasons of 2007 and 2008, KL in SA increased from early, to mid, to late season. In CS, the KL was unaffected by plant treatment or season. The St. Augustinegrass treatment KL seasonally ranged from 0.45 to 0.62 in SA. In CS, soil sodium accumulation caused decreased KL. These results of KL for mixed-species landscapes on non-sodic sites trend toward seasonal values of 0.5 to 0.7 for irrigation decisions in southern Texas. Landscape coefficients can be used as a tool in irrigation decision-making, which could contribute to water savings in amenity landscapes.

Free access

Tim R. Pannkuk, Jacqueline A. Aitkenhead-Peterson, Kurt Steinke, James C. Thomas, David R. Chalmers and Richard H. White

Effective landscape management practices in urban landscapes must include an awareness of nutrient removal from soil caused by leaching, and these practices should be those least damaging to freshwaters. Annual mean dissolved organic carbon (DOC), dissolved organic nitrogen (DON), nitrate-N, ammonium-N, soluble phosphate, and bicarbonate concentrations and fluxes were quantified in leachate from landscapes planted with different urban horticultural types. Plot vegetation consisted of either a single species or mixed species. The experiment was conducted at two sites in Texas with significantly different irrigation water chemistry. At the two sites, plant species had a significant effect on PO4 3--P flux, and irrigation chemistry had a significant effect on all nutrient fluxes. There was an interaction between plant species and irrigation chemistry for PO4 3--P flux (P < 0.05) only. The relationship between bicarbonate and DOC flux at sites was stronger and significant (0.92; P < 0.05) at the site irrigated with Na-HCO3 municipal tap water than at the site irrigated with Ca-HCO3 municipal tap water (R 2 = 0.76, P = 0.05). Type of irrigation water chemistry may result in lower plant water uptake resulting in increased nutrients lost to leachate.