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Bridget A. Ruemmele, Robert Cunningham and M. C. Engelke

A limitation to distribution of some field-grown sod is the time required to produce a saleable product rooted sufficiently to retain its shape when removed from the ground. Research for a more efficient sod production process was examined using sod segments planted at a 1:100 plant:planting area ratio in an aboveground soilless, root-restricting system. Combinations of 3 growth media, 2 rooting stimulants, and 2 fertilizers each at 2 rates were evaluated to determine the most rapid and optimal sod development for zoysiagrass. Treatments were rated weekly for percent cover, rate of stolon development, and rooting. Although treatments with rooting stimulants generally scored higher than other treatments for rooting and percent cover, these differences were not consistently significantly different from week to week. No significant differences occurred among treatments for stolon development ratings. After 16 weeks of growth, sod strength was greatest when the growth medium was a peat and vermiculite mixture.

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Mouna Benmbarek, Y. Desiardins and R.R. Simard

Landfiling and incineration constitute the most commonly used methods of biosolid disposal. To minimize the environmental risk, their chemical and biological characteristics have been the subject of several investigations.

The present research was undertaken to evaluate the agronomic value of municipal solid wastes (MSW) and composted de-inked sludge (CDS) in a field experiment for sod production. Four variables in a split factorial design, were investigated at two sod farms: compost (MSW and CDS), soil (sandy loam and clay loam), application method (surface applied 6cm and incorporated 20cm), and the application rate (50-100 and 150t/ha). Controls consisted of unfertilized and unamended but fertilized plots. Both experimental sites were seeded with kentucky bluegrass.

Preliminary data indicate that the two biosolids promoted the sod growth at the rates applied. However, a better plot cover was observed if composts were rototilled at a depth of 6cm as compared to the conventional treated plots. Measurements of root and foliar weights revealed that the turf growth was enhanced with increasing rates, which is probably caused by additional soil macronutrients showed by the analysis. Seed germination and seedling emergence were not delayed as indicated by the observed increase in the water retention capacity of the soil especially at higher compost rates.

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John L. Cisar and George H. Snyder

The objective of this experiment was to determine the suitability of a compost obtained from a commercially available solid-waste processing plant for sod production when placed over a plastic barrier. Comparisons were made between compost-grown sod with and without fertilizer and between compost-grown sod and commercially grown sod. Six weeks after seeding or sprigging, both fertilized and nonfertilized compost-grown `Argentine' bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum Flugge), `Tifway' bermudagrass (Cynodon transvaalensis × C. dactylon), and `Floratam' St. Augustinegrass [Stenotaphrum secundatum (Walt.) Kuntze.] had discolored leaf blade tissue and poor growth. At 6 weeks, bahiagrass leaf tissue had a low N concentration, which suggested that the compost immobilized fertilizer N. Additionally, initial high salinity of the compost (2.85 dS·m-1) may have contributed to turf discoloration and lack of vigor. However, poor growth and discoloration were temporary. At 3 and 5 months, fertilized compost-grown turfgrasses had higher quality and coverage than nonfertilized sod. At 5 months, fertilized sod had sufficient coverage for harvest, whereas for conventional field production 9 to 24 months generally is required to produce a harvestable product. Compost-grown sod pieces had similar or higher tear resistance than commercially grown sod. One and 3 weeks after transplanting on a sand soil, compost-grown sod produced higher root weight and longer roots in the underlying soil than did commercially grown sod. The solid-waste compost used in this study offers a viable alternative material for producing sod that will benefit solid-waste recycling efforts.

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Marc Laganière and Yves Desjardins

At present, there is no herbicide registered for use in Canada to control annual bluegrass in sod production. Under serious infestations, aesthetic qualities are reduced and sod harvest becomes more complicated. The efficiency of propane burners to control annual bluegrass was tested in a trial initiated in Spring 1993. Specific objectives were to determine the appropriate period for treatment application and the heat intensity required for optimal control. Twenty-one plots (13 × 3 m) were treated with a conventional burner; a similar group was treated with a pipe burner. In addition to an untreated check, the combination of two tractor-burner speeds (3.6 and 5 km·h-1) and three gas pressures (20, 30, and 40 psi) made up the seven treatments. Randomized complete blocks were used and each treatment was replicated three times. The sod recovered well from all heat treatments. After 3 weeks, the best heat treatment reduced the annual bluegrass population by 70%. Unfortunately, this reduction lasted for about 1 month, after which the annual bluegrass population recovered. At best, weed population was reduced by 40% when evaluated in mid-September. Another trial is planned to identify environmental and edaphic factors that may reduce the effectiveness of heat treatments in controlling annual bluegrass in sod production.

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Amy L. Neigebauer, Greg L. Davis, Garald L. Horst and Donald H. Steinegger

Field-grown wildflower sod has been in production for several years, but as with any crop management system, the reasoning behind the methods is not always known. One characteristic of wildflower sod production that has been debated is the height at which the plant is maintained. The above-ground shoot growth is managed to reduce the damage to plants when undercut and to allow for ease of shipping. Growers typically use a height of 7.6 cm because this is the highest height allowed by many mowers. Also, root production is the key to forming a sod that will hold together well and withstand the rigors of undercutting, lifting, storage, and transplanting. The purpose of this study was to determine the influence of cutting height on the plant's ability to produce a sod. Rudbeckia hirta L. was used as a model wildflower species and was seeded into polyvinyl chloride (PVC) tubes 10.2 cm in diameter with a depth of 60 cm to simulate a field situation. To characterize shoot and root growth, during a period of 12 weeks plants either received no clipping or continuous clipping at heights of 5.1, 7.6, and 10.2 cm. Root dry weights were measured at depths of 0-2.54, 2.54-21.7, 21.7-40.8, and 40.8--60.0 cm. Leaf area measurements of the clippings were recorded to determine productivity. Results indicated that clipping the shoots of Rudbeckia hirta caused a decrease in root biomass.

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P. Lecomte, M. Laganière and Y. Desjardins

Increasing costs associated with the disposal of industrial and urban wastes necessitate the development of alternatives which are economical and environmentally safe. With >3000 ha in Quebec, sod production represents an interesting alternative for the use of new amendments, such as composted de-inked paper sludges and municipal waste compost. The objective of this trial was to evaluate the potential benefits of these amendments (nutrient retention in the root zone and chemical and physical soil benefits) and question potential environmental hazards. Chemical dynamics of N, P, K, micronutrients and heavy metals were examined over four soil layers (0 to 15, 15 to 30, 30 to 60, an >60 cm) on sandy and clay soil. Preliminary results for 1993 and 1994 indicate that nutrient concentrations in water extract are high following the establishment of sites. When sod is absent, high concentrations of lead (500 mg·kg–1 in urban compost) show only a slight trend to accumulate. Nevertheless, this new approach toward using industrial and urban composts seems to be adequate and economically attractive.

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Maxim J. Schlossberg and William P. Miller

Coal combustion by-products (CCB) are produced nationwide, generating 108 Mg of waste annually. Though varied, the majority of CCB are crystalline alumino-silicate minerals. Both disposal costs of CCB and interest in alternative horticultural/agricultural production systems have increased recently. Field studies assessed the benefit of CCB and organic waste/product mixtures as supplemental soil/growth media for production of hybrid bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers. × C. transvaalensis Burtt-Davy] sod. Growth media were applied at depths of 2 to 4 cm (200 to 400 m3·ha-1) and vegetatively established by sprigging. Cultural practices typical of commercial methods were employed over 99- or 114-day growth periods. Sod was monitored during these propagation cycles, then harvested, evaluated, and installed offsite in a typical lawn-establishment method. Results showed mixtures of CCB and biosolids as growth media increased yield of biomass, with both media and tissue having greater nutrient content than the control media. Volumetric water content of CCB-containing media significantly exceeded that of control media and soil included with a purchased bermudagrass sod. Once installed, sod grown on CCB-media did not differ in rooting strength from control or purchased sod. When applied as described, physicochemical characteristics of CCB-media are favorable and pose little environmental risk to soil or water resources.

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Erick G. Begitschke, James D. McCurdy, Te-Ming Tseng, T. Casey Barickman, Barry R. Stewart, Christian M. Baldwin, Michael P. Richard and Maria Tomaso-Peterson

instances where flumioxazin has been used in sod production, although not during sprigged establishment. Flumioxazin was included because of its shared mode of action with oxadiazon [both protoporphyrinogen oxidase (PROTOX) inhibitors]. PROTOX inhibitors are

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Joyce G. Latimer, Reuben B. Beverly, Carol D. Robacker, Orville M. Lindstrom, Ronald D. Oetting, Denise L. Olson, S. Kristine Braman, Paul A. Thomas, John R. Allison, Wojciech Florkowski, John M. Ruter, Jerry T. Walker, Melvin P. Garber and William G. Hudson

Pesticides have been the primary method of pest control for years, and growers depend on them to control insect and disease-causing pests effectively and economically. However, opportunities for reducing the potential pollution arising from the use of pesticides and fertilizers in environmental horticulture are excellent. Greenhouse, nursery, and sod producers are using many of the scouting and cultural practices recommended for reducing the outbreak potential and severity of disease and insect problems. Growers are receptive to alternatives to conventional pesticides, and many already use biorational insecticides. Future research should focus on increasing the effectiveness and availability of these alternatives. Optimizing growing conditions, and thereby plant health, reduces the susceptibility of plants to many disease and insect pest problems. Impediments to reducing the use of conventional pesticides and fertilizers in the environmental horticulture industry include 1) lack of easily implemented, reliable, and cost-effective alternative pest control methods; 2) inadequate funding for research to develop alternatives; 3) lack of sufficient educational or resource information for users on the availability of alternatives; 4) insufficient funding for educating users on implementing alternatives; 5) lack of economic or regulatory incentive for growers to implement alternatives; and 6) limited consumer acceptance of aesthetic damage to plants. Research and broadly defined educational efforts will help alleviate these impediments to reducing potential pollution by the environmental horticulture industry.

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K.L. Hensler, B.S. Baldwin and J.M. Goatley Jr.

A truly soilless turfgrass sod may be produced on kenaf-based (Hibiscus cannabinus L.) fiber mat that offers the integrity of field-cut sod without the use of mineral soil growing medium. This research was conducted to determine the feasibility of producing warm-season turfgrass sod on such a biodegradable organic mat. Seeded turfgrass plots contained 4.9 lb/1000 ft2 (24 g.m−2) of pure live seed planted on a 66-lb/1000 ft2 (325-g.m−2) organic fiber mat carrier placed atop either 66- or 132-lb/1000 ft2 (325- or 650-g.m−2) organic fiber mats. In an experiment using vegetative material, stolons were applied at rates of 16.4 ft3/1000 ft2 (0.82 L.m−2) over 132- or 198-lb/1000 ft2 (650- or 975-g.m−2) organic fiber mats and covered with a rayon scrim. All plots were placed on 6-mil black plastic. Nitrogen was applied at 0.9 lb/1000 ft2 (4.4 g.m−2) weekly in addition to a monthly micronutrient application. Bermudagrass (Cynodon σππ.) had quicker establishment than other grasses in the study, with stolonized and seeded plots achieving ≈100% coverage by 9 weeks in 1995 and 6 weeks in 1996, respectively. By 15 weeks after planting in 1995, the plot coverage ratings for seeded centipedegrass [Eremochloa ophiuroides (Munro) Hack. `Common'] and all stolonized grass plots of centipedegrass, zoysiagrass (Zoysia japonica Steud. `Meyer'), and St. Augustinegrass [Stenotaphrum secundatum (Walt.) Kuntze `Raleigh'] were 91% or higher. The results were much less favorable in 1996 than 1995 due to a later planting date and an irrigation failure.