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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.
2011 Project Description
Our program continues to provide new information on best management practices in several different areas of turfgrass science. Examples include evaluation of novel, plant-generated compounds used as fungicides, evaluation of curative versus preventative fungicide applications for acceptable disease control, and evaluations of nearly all of the commercially available cultivars of seeded bermudagrasses used as athletic field turfs.
The results of these studies have been disseminated as presentations at both scientific and practitioner meetings, published in refereed journals, and as extension information. Additionally, our work on feedstocks for biofuels continues to be very productive. This information has been published in refereed journals and also presented at scientific meetings. To date, there are no real practitioner meetings or extension opportunities in Kentucky for feedstock production for biofuels.
Our work with plant-generated products as fungicides has contributed to a much stronger interest in research to increase production of these compounds to a scale where they would be publicly available for wide-scale use. While this has not yet been accomplished, we have proven that the compounds are indeed very successful when used as fungicides, equally so to commercially available synthetic organic compounds already on the market and commonly used.
Additionally, concurrent work in another lab has elucidated the modes of action of these compounds, validating our work in evaluating them as fungicides. Our work evaluating curative versus preventative fungicide applications provided strong quantification of reduced pesticide use while still achieving acceptable disease control on golf course turf.
While the common mind-set among practitioners is to make fungicide applications by the calendar and not as needed, our work is a very strong argument that acceptable disease control can be accomplished with significantly fewer applications than by calendar-based models. Even though practitioners have yet to embrace this practice, we are providing science-based information so that sound pest management decisions can be made, either by choice now, or by legislation in the future.
Our work in feedstock production continues to provide extremely useful information to a national database based on regional environment and management.
Michael T. Deaton and D.W. Williams. 2011. 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.
Vincelli, P., Williams, D., and Dixon, E. 2011. Early curative fungicide applications provide disease control on fairway-height creeping bentgrass. Online. Applied Turfgrass Science. doi:10.1094/ATS-2011-1025-01-RS.
Brian King, D. W. Williams and G. J. Wagner. 2011. Phylloplanins Reduce the Severity of Gray Leaf Spot and Brown Patch Diseases on Turfgrasses. Crop Science. 51: 6: 2829-2839; doi:10.2135/cropsci2010.12.0727.
Maughan, M., G. Bollero, D.K. Lee, R. Darmody, S. Bonos, L. Cortese, J. Murphy, R. Gaussoin, M. Sousek, D. Williams, L. Williams, F. Miguez, and T. Voigt. 2011. Miscanthus x giganteus productivity: The effects of management in different environments. Global Change Biology Bioenergy. GCB Bioenergy (2011), doi: 10.1111/j.1757-1707.2011.01144.x.