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Kayla R. Sanders and Jeffrey S. Beasley

Controlled-release fertilizers (CRFs) provide an extended period of nutrient availability for turfgrass growth and may limit offsite nutrient losses compared with water-soluble fertilizers (WSFs). However, increasing temperatures and soil moisture accelerate nutrient release from many CRFs. As a result, turfgrass managers growing turfgrass in warm, humid climates with high rainfall question how effective CRFs are in reducing nutrient runoff losses while maintaining aesthetic quality. A study was conducted to examine the effect of three fertilizer treatments—an unfertilized control, a CRF applied at 87 lb/acre nitrogen (N), and a WSF applied at 87 lb/acre N as a split application (43.5 lb/acre N) at 0 and 45 d after initial fertilization (DAIF)—on nutrient losses from ‘Tifway’ hybrid bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon × C. transvaalensis) during surface runoff events. Rainfall simulations were conducted 3, 28, 56, and 84 DAIF at an intensity of 3 inches per hour to induce 30 minutes of runoff. Water samples were analyzed for inorganic N and dissolved total phosphorus (DTP). Hybrid bermudagrass quality was similar among fertilizer treatments with CRF application, resulting in slightly higher quality. Across all fertilizer treatments, hybrid bermudagrass exhibited similar runoff initiation time and volumes within each rainfall simulation event. Nutrient losses from fertilized hybrid bermudagrass were greatest at the first runoff event at 3 DAIF, with WSF having the greatest losses. The subsequent application of WSF 45 DAIF did not result in greater N and DTP losses compared with CRF application, most likely a result of water incorporation applied to prevent wilting. Hybrid bermudagrass fertilized with a single application of CRF resulted in 23.6% and 55.6% reductions in cumulative inorganic N and DTP losses, respectively, compared with hybrid bermudagrass fertilized with the a split application of WSF.