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Turfgrass Management Practices in Kentucky
D. W. Williams, A. J.Powell
Department of Plant and Soil Sciences
Nearly one million acres are devoted to turf in Kentucky (1). Turfgrass maintenance in Kentucky is a multi-million dollar industry, and is a multi-billion dollar industry nation-wide (1). Two factors drive the objectives of this work. Firstly, there is an international movement towards reducing pesticide use in all crops including turf (2). Not only would this reduce the amount of pesticides in the environment, but would also reduce the cost of turf management. Secondly, plant breeding efforts have produced very large gains in desirable turfgrass characteristics (3).
Despite desirable qualities, new cultivars may also have undesirable traits (e.g., disease susceptibility). Turf managers need local information on the large number of turfgrass cultivars being developed. Research should focus on exploiting desirable features of improved cultivars while managing any undesirable traits in a cost- and time-efficient manner and at the same time, reducing the environmental impacts of turfgrass culture.
Even though the majority of turf acreage is in home and commercial lawns, golf courses and sod producers spend far more dollars per unit area than do managers of other turf categories (1). For this reason, research is often focused on key issues from these higher-level maintenance enterprises. It is possible and desirable to apply research results from high maintenance turf to lower maintenance operations as well. But, lower maintenance areas such as highway rights-of-way constitute a large proportion of total acreage and have unique research needs. Turfgrass research at the University of Kentucky should address problems encountered by a wide range of turfgrass managers. This research will be both basic and applied.
There are many unanswered questions concerning problems that have existed for decades in turf management. There are also other, somewhat new turf management principles that must be explored. An example would be the use of seeded warm season grasses as opposed to traditional vegetative propagation. With continual increases in the release of improved turfgrass cultivars, our research program should provide evaluations of cultivar adaptation and performance in Kentucky. Additionally, new herbicides, fungicides and insecticides should be tested for efficacy in Kentucky.
2009 Project Description
We continue to contribute both to the effective use of seeded bermudagrasses and also to general integrated pest management. Our work has greatly increased the use of seeded bermudagrasses across Kentucky and very likely beyond. Turfgrass managers have benefited by simplified turfgrass management techniques requiring less labor and less money. We disseminate our work annually first at a week long turf and landscape management short course held in Louisville, a half day research field day held each July at the experiment station, and during a three day conference held each autumn at various locations across Kentucky.
Our work has shown that there are large, significant differences in the traffic tolerance of both seeded and vegetatively propagated bermudagrasses. This includes work referenced below and also work yet to be published. We have investigated both native soil and sand-based systems so as to answer questions from broad sources of athletic turf managers. We continue to work towards reducing inputs, especially synthetic chemical inputs, in high maintenance turf. This is indicated by the Potter manuscript below, as well as with recent as of yet unpublished work on reducing fungicide needs in creeping bentgrass through dew removal. Dew removal did not reduce the need for fungicides but a curative application program did significantly reduce the number of fungicide applications while providing adequate control compared to a preventative program. This is in contrast to some earlier published work and must be researched further.
The Inheritance of Cold Tolerance and Turf traits in a Seeded Bermudagrass Population. 2009. Thomas R. Stefaniak, C. A. Rodgers, R. VanDyke, D. Williams, and T. D. Phillips. Crop Sci. 49: 1489-1495.
Managing Earthworm Castings (Oligochaeta: Lumbricidae) in Turfgrass using a Natural By-Product of Tea Oil (Camellia sp.) Manufacture. 2009. Daniel A. Potter, Carl. T. Redmond, Kumudini M. Meegpagala, and David W. Williams. Pest Management Sci. (in press).
Seeded bermudagrass tolerance to simulated athletic field traffic as affected by cultivars and trinexapac-ethyl. 2009. David W. Williams, Paul B. Burrus, and Kenneth L. Cropper. Hort Technol. (accepted pending revisions).