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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.
2010 Project Description
We continue to conduct successful experiments related to best management practices for several species of turfgrass managed in Kentucky. Examples from 2010 include bermudgrass establishment and traffic tolerance trials, control of dollar spot of creeping bentgrass with reduced inputs, novel sources of nitrogen in turf management, germplasm screenings of bermudagrass lines for increased winter hardiness, 5 cultivar evaluation trials in cooperation with the National Turfgrass Evaluation Program, and multiple pesticide (herbicides, fungicides, and insecticides) efficacy trials on many different species of turfgrass. A summary of these works can be found at: http://www.uky.edu/Ag/ukturf/2009-10%20Research%20Summary.pdf.
Additionally, we are increasing our participation in research related to feedstocks for bioenergy using perennial grasses. No new bioenergy trials were planted in 2010, but two large trials are planned for spring of 2011. All of this work was presented during our research field day which was attended by approximately 300 participants.
Additionally, we conduct two other major turfgrass meetings, the Turf and Landscape Management Short Course each Feburary (~800 participants) and the Kentucky Turfgrass Council Conference and Trade Show each October or November (~300 participants). Many of the aforementioned projects have been presented to turf manager professional organizations (Tennessee Valley Sports Turf Managers Association, Virginia Sports Turf Managers Association, Quad-State Golf Course Superintendents Association).
Our work in seeded bermudagrass has had definite impacts on cultivar selection and culture. Managers are choosing cultivars recommended as a result of our work, and long-held ideas of bermudagrass culture are being replaced by information from our work (e.g., seeding timing and rates). Also, our work in feedstocks for bioenergy are contributing to a large body of knowledge which is defining the basic agronomic principles involved with the culture of feedstocks for bioenergy.
Michael T. Deaton and D.W. Williams. 2010. Overseeding and Trinexapac-Ethyl Effects on Tolerance to Simulated Traffic of Four Bermdagrass Cultivars Grown as a Sand-Based Athletic Field. Hort Technol. 20(4):724-729.
David W. Williams, Paul B. Burrus, and Kenneth L. Cropper. 2010. Seeded bermudagrass tolerance to simulated athletic field traffic as affected by cultivars and trinexapac-ethyl. Hort Technol. 20(3):533-538.
M. O. Ahonsi, B. O. Agindotan; D. W. Williams, R. Arundale, M. E. Gray, T. B. Voigt, and C. A. Bradley. 2010. First report of Pithomyces chartarum causing a leaf blight of Miscanthus x giganteus in Kentucky. Plant Dis. 94(4):480.