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Alan L. Wright, Tony L. Provin, Frank M. Hons, David A. Zuberer and Richard H. White

Compost application to turfgrasses may contribute to accumulation of macronutrients in soil and eventually pose leaching and runoff hazards. The objectives of this study were to determine the influence of compost on soil-dissolved organic C (DOC) and accumulation of NH4OAc-EDTA-extractable and water-soluble nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and sulfur (S) in St. Augustinegrass [Stenotaphrum secundatum (Walt.) Kuntze] turf. Dissolved organic C increased from 3 to 29 months after application for unamended and compost-amended soils, indicating contribution from decomposition of both compost and St. Augustinegrass residues. Dissolved organic C was 75%, 78%, and 101% greater 29 months after application of 0, 80, and 160 mg·ha−1 of compost, respectively, than before application. Dissolved organic C and macronutrients exhibited considerable seasonal variation, because DOC and EDTA-extractable P, Ca, Mg, and S increased after compost application, whereas NO3 declined. Water-soluble K, Ca, and Mg declined, whereas P and S increased from 0 to 29 months. Similar seasonal changes in macronutrient concentrations occurred for unamended and compost-amended soil, indicating that composts, in addition to turfgrass residues, influenced DOC and macronutrient dynamics. Long-term nutrient accumulation occurred in compost-amended turfgrass, but seasonal dynamics were more related to the growth stage of turfgrass than compost. Formation of DOC-cation complexes appeared to contribute to macronutrient mobility, because decreases in DOC and nutrient concentrations occurred during turfgrass dormancy in winter and after high precipitation levels, indicating the potential for leaching of DOC-associated nutrients from soil.

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Alan L. Wright, Tony L. Provin, Frank M. Hons, David A. Zuberer and Richard H. White

Application of organic amendments can increase dissolved organic C (DOC) concentrations, which may influence movement of nutrients and heavy metals in soils. The objectives of this study were to investigate the influence of compost sources and application rates on concentrations of soil DOC, NO3-N, and extractable P over 29 months after a one-time application of compost to bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.] turf. Few differences were evident between compost sources for soil total organic C (TOC), DOC, and NO3-N. However, the initial P content of compost sources significantly influenced soil extractable P. Increasing the rate of compost application increased soil TOC initially, but levels remained fairly stable over time. In contrast, DOC continued to increase from 3 to 29 months after application, suggesting that compost mineralization and growth of bermudagrass contributed to DOC dynamics in soil. Dissolved organic C was 98%, 128%, 145%, 175%, and 179% greater 29 months after application of 0, 40, 80, 120, and 160 Mg compost/ha, respectively, than before application. Rate of compost application had less effect on DOC than TOC, as DOC concentrations appeared controlled in part by bermudagrass growth patterns. Soil NO3-N was generally unaffected by compost application rate, as NO3-N decreased similarly for unamended soil and all compost treatments. Soil extractable P initially increased after compost application, but increasing the application rate generally did not increase P from 3 to 29 months. Seasonal or cyclical patterns of TOC, DOC, and extractable P were observed, as significantly lower levels of these parameters were observed in dormant stages of bermudagrass growth during cooler months.

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Donald M. Vietor, Ronnie W. Schnell, Tony L. Provin, Richard H. White and Clyde L. Munster

Incorporation or top-dressing of composted biosolids (CB) can enhance turfgrass establishment and sod properties at harvest, but soil phosphorus (P) and nitrogen must be managed to protect water quality. Alum treatment of CB could reduce soluble P concentrations in amended soil and limit runoff loss of P. The objective was to evaluate CB and Alum effects on turfgrass coverage of soil and runoff losses during ‘Tifway’ bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers. var. dactylon × C. transvaalensis Burtt-Davey] establishment from sprigs or transplanted sod. Three replications of eight treatments comprised a complete randomized design. Four treatments were composed of ‘Tifway’ sprigged in soil with and without incorporation of CB and Alum. Four remaining treatments were sods harvested from ‘Tifway’ grown with and without top-dressed CB that were transplanted with and without a surface spray of Alum. Surface coverage of ‘Tifway’ sprigged in soil mixed with inorganic fertilizer or CB was comparable to transplanted sod 25 days after planting. In contrast, Alum incorporation acidulated soil, slowed coverage rates of sprigged ‘Tifway’, and increased NH4-N runoff loss during early establishment in treatments without CB. Incorporation of Alum with CB or inorganic fertilizer in soil before sprigging reduced soil water-extractable P (WEP) more than 38% and reduced runoff loss of soluble reactive P (SRP) in three of four establishment treatments. Although SRP runoff loss from CB-amended sod was greatest among treatments, the Alum spray minimized SRP loss after transplanting. Alum effectively reduced runoff loss of SRP from CB, soil, and turfgrass sources during establishment from sprigs or sod. Additional field research is needed, but incorporated or surface sprays of Alum offer a potential new practice for mitigating runoff loss of SRP from establishing turfgrass.

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Ronnie W. Schnell, Donald M. Vietor, Richard H. White, Tony L. Provin and Clyde L. Munster

Incorporation of composted municipal biosolids (CMB) in low-quality soil can enhance turfgrass establishment and physical and chemical properties of turfgrass sod. The purpose of this research was to quantify CMB and fertilizer nitrogen (N) effects on Tifway bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers. var. dactylon × C. transvaalensis Burtt-Davey] coverage, sod properties, and nutrient export in harvested sod. The experiment was conducted under field conditions in College Station, TX, from 2005 through 2008. The CMB and N effects were evaluated through digital image analysis of percentage of turfgrass coverage, gravimetric measurements of sod wet and dry weight and water content at harvest, analyses of total phosphorus (P) and total Kjeldahl N in turfgrass and soil, and computations of total P and N export through sod. Incorporation of 0.25 m3 of CMB/m3 soil and fertilizer N rates of 50 or 100 kg N/ha/application increased percentage of turfgrass cover during establishment compared with controls. At sod harvest, dry weight was less and water content was greater for CMB-amended sod than for sod grown without CMB. Analyses of total nutrients in CMB and in turfgrass and soil indicated that two sod harvests removed all of the CMB sources of N and P incorporated or top-dressed during Tifway bermudagrass establishment and regrowth. Cycling of CMB through sod offers an opportunity for conserving CMB sources of nutrients and benefiting Tifway bermudagrass sod production and properties.

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Xiaoyan Dai, Donald M. Vietor, Frank M. Hons, Tony L. Provin, Richard H. White, Thomas W. Boutton and Clyde L. Munster

Large, volume-based applications of composted municipal biosolids (CMB) can enhance turfgrass growth and quality and soil physical and chemical properties. In addition, CMB additions could affect short-term dynamics of soil organic carbon (SOC) and enhance C sequestration and environmental quality compared with turfgrass fertilized with inorganic nutrients in mineral soil. The objective was to compare changes in SOC among contrasting sources of Tifway bermudagrass sod (Cynodon dactylon L. Pers. × C. transvaalensis Burtt-Davey) after transplanting. Three sod sources from fields grown with two commercial sources of CMB or inorganic phosphorus fertilizer were transplanted on silica sand in replicated box lysimeters. Storage of SOC within 0 to 5-cm and 5 to 50-cm depths was greater in CMB than fertilizer-grown sod during 10 months of establishment and maintenance. Leaching losses of dissolved organic C (DOC) were two times greater for CMB than for fertilizer-grown sod over seven simulated rain events, but the ratio of DOC in leachate to total SOC mass was 0.3% or less for CMB-grown sod. An increase in δ13C values of SOC over sampling dates indicated the proportion of SOC derived from turfgrass increased, whereas that from CMB decreased. The benefit of greater rates of SOC storage during establishment and maintenance of CMB compared with fertilizer-grown sod was achieved without substantive loss of DOC in leachate.