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John E. Erickson and Kevin E. Kenworthy

Irrigation of residential lawns represents one of the major uses of potable water in many regions. An increased understanding of physiological responses underlying effects of turfgrass genotypes and management practices on water use rates and water use efficiencies could contribute to water conservation. Thus, we evaluated the effects of nitrogen (N) fertilization (0.0 and 2.5 g·m−2) and light environment (full sun and 50% shade) on average daily evapotranspiration (ETAVE), daily ET per unit leaf area (ETLA), carbon exchange rate (CER), and water use efficiency (WUE) in upright (experimental TAES 5343-22) and prostrate (‘Empire’) zoysiagrasses (Zoysia japonica Steud.) during two repeated trials. Across all treatments, ETAVE was 4.0 and 5.4 mm·d−1 during Trials 1 and 2, respectively. In the upright-growing genotype, ETAVE was ≈10% greater than the prostrate genotype during Trial 1. Nitrogen fertilization increased water use by ≈20% compared with non-fertilized pots. However, N fertilization reduced ETLA and increased WUE. Thus, ETAVE was positively related with WUE. As a result, there was a tradeoff between ETAVE and WUE, indicating that efforts to achieve reductions in water use through low N fertilization or genotypes can be accomplished, but in some cases at the expense of using water less efficiently to assimilate carbon for plant growth processes. In turfgrass, reductions in growth and WUE might be acceptable to minimize water use, but vigor and quality need to be maintained.

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Maria P. Fuentealba, Jing Zhang, Kevin E. Kenworthy, John E. Erickson, Jason Kruse and Laurie E. Trenholm

Irrigation for commercial and residential turf is becoming limiting, and water scarcity is one of the long-term challenges facing the turfgrass industry. Potential root development and profile characteristics of turfgrass provide important information regarding their drought resistance mechanisms and developing drought-resistant cultivars. The objective of this study was to determine the potential root development and root profile characteristics of two bermudagrass species and two zoysiagrass species using experimental lines and commercial cultivars. The species evaluated in the study were: African bermudagrass (Cynodon transvaalensis Burtt-Davy), common bermudagrass (CB) [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers. var. dactylon], Zoysia japonica (ZJ) (Steud), and Zoysia matrella (ZM) L. Plants were grown outdoors in clear acrylic tubes encased in poly vinyl chloride (PVC) sleeves. The experimental design was randomized complete block design with four replications. Rates of root depth development (RRDD) during the first 30 days were obtained. Root length density (RLD) in four different horizons (0–30, 30–60, 60–90, and 90–120 cm) was determined 60 days after planting. Specific root length (SRL, m·g−1) was also calculated dividing total root length by total root dry weight (RDW). The root depth in four turfgrass species increased linearly during the first 30 days after planting. Common bermudagrass (CB) had high RRDD and uniform RLD in different horizons, while ZM accumulated the majority of its roots in the upper 30 cm. Z. matrella had higher RLD than CB in the upper 30 cm. African bermudagrass had higher SRL than CB. There was limited variation within the two African bermudagrass genotypes studied except at the lowest horizon (90–120 cm). Two genotypes in CB and ZJ, respectively, including ‘UF182’ (ZJ), which consistently ranked in the top statistical group for RRDD, and RLD for every horizon, and ‘UFCD347’ (CB) demonstrated greater RLDs in the lower horizons in comparison with the commercial cultivars.

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Desire Djidonou, Xin Zhao, Eric H. Simonne, Karen E. Koch and John E. Erickson

In addition to managing soilborne diseases, grafting with vigorous rootstocks has been shown to improve yield in tomato (Solanum lycopersicum L.) production. However, the influence of different levels of nitrogen (N) and irrigation supplies on grafted tomato plants has not been fully examined in comparison with non-grafted plants, especially under field conditions. The objective of this two-year study was to determine the effects of different irrigation regimes and N rates on yield, irrigation water use efficiency (iWUE), and N use efficiency (NUE) of grafted tomato plants grown with drip irrigation in sandy soils of north Florida. The determinate tomato cultivar Florida 47 was grafted onto two interspecific hybrid rootstocks, ‘Beaufort’ and ‘Multifort’ (S. lycopersicum × S. habrochaites S. Knapp & D.M. Spooner). Non-grafted ‘Florida 47’ was used as a control. Plants were grown in a fumigated field under 12 combinations of two drip irrigation regimes (50% and 100% of commonly used irrigation regime) and six N rates (56, 112, 168, 224, 280, and 336 kg·ha−1). The field experiments were arranged in a split-plot design with four replications. The whole plots consisted of the irrigation regime and N rate combination treatments, whereas the subplots represented the two grafting treatments and the non-grafted plants. Self-grafted ‘Florida 47’ was also included in the 100% irrigation and 224 kg N/ha fertilization treatment as a control. In 2010, the 50% irrigation regime resulted in higher total and marketable yields than the 100% irrigation regime. Tomato yield was significantly influenced by N rates, but similar yields were achieved at 168 kg·ha−1 and above. Plants grafted onto ‘Beaufort’ and ‘Multifort’ showed an average increase of 27% and 30% in total and marketable fruit yields, respectively, relative to non-grafted plants. In 2011, fruit yields were affected by a significant irrigation by N rate interaction. Grafting significantly increased tomato yields, whereas grafted plants showed greater potential for yield improvement with increasing N rates compared with non-grafted plants. Self-grafting did not affect tomato yields. More fruit per plant and higher average fruit weight as a result of grafting were observed in both years. Grafting with the two rootstocks significantly improved the irrigation water and N use efficiency in tomato production. Results from this study suggested the need for developing irrigation and N fertilization recommendations for grafted tomato production in sandy soils.

Open access

Christopher D. Ryan, J. Bryan Unruh, Kevin E. Kenworthy, Alexa J. Lamm, John E. Erickson and Laurie E. Trenholm

Every county and municipality in Florida can adopt its own unique ordinance regulating the fertilization of lawns and landscapes. With increased concern for eutrophication to state waterbodies, many have chosen to implement seasonal fertilizer restrictive periods prohibiting the application of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers, typically during the rainy summer months. These fertilizer “blackout” policies have been the subject of controversy among environmental activists, university scientists, and policy decision makers, with their efficacy being called into question. A Foucauldian discourse analysis was undertaken to trace the dynamics of the controversy, and survey research was conducted with Florida residents and with Florida decision makers to compare their lawncare maintenance practices, sentiments surrounding turfgrass, their trust in landscape science, as well as their awareness of policy in the city or county in which they reside. Differences were found between the two populations in terms of how many respondents fertilized, used automated irrigation systems and hand-pulled weeds. Although both populations had very neutral sentiments around turfgrass with no significant differences, Florida decision-maker respondents had a higher mean response for trust in landscape science. Only 32% of Florida resident respondents were able to accurately identify if their city or county had a blackout ordinance, compared with 81% of decision-maker respondents. Increasing civic science may be the best way for reducing this discrepancy, while also giving power to citizens in environmental policy adoption.