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Alternative turfgrasses show potential for use on golf course fairways
Date:4/20/2010

ST. PAUL, MNBurgeoning restrictions on water use, fertilization, and pesticide application are becoming important considerations in golf course design and management. In response, scientists are searching for sustainable methods to lessen the environmental impact of golf courses. Other factors, including increasing energy costs, human health concerns, and environmental awareness are also prompting turfgrass managers to consider the use of alternative turfgrasses as a lower input, sustainable maintenance practice. A new study published in HortScience identified four alternative turfgrass speciestwo bentgrasses and two fescuesas promising for use as low-input fairways.

In the cool-season region of the United States, golf course managers traditionally grow creeping bentgrass on putting greens and favor Kentucky bluegrass, creeping bentgrass, or perennial ryegrass for fairways. When used on fairways, however, these species require significant amounts of inputs such as nitrogen fertilization, irrigation, and pesticides. A sustainable, effective strategy to deal with potential risks associated with these inputs may be the use of alternative turfgrass species. The challenge is finding low-input turf that can survive and perform adequately under conditions of little or no supplemental irrigation, high traffic, no pesticides, and reduced fertility.

Eric Watkins, Andrew B. Hollman, and Brian P. Horgan of the Department of Horticultural Science at the University of Minnesota designed a research study that tested alternative turfgrass species not currently used for golf course fairways in the northern U.S. In 2005, 17 species of turfgrass were established on native soil in St. Paul. Each species was evaluated at three levels of traffic (zero, three, or six passes per week using a drum-type traffic simulator) and two mowing heights (1.90 and 2.54 cm).

In 2006, velvet bentgrass (Agrostis canina L.), colonial bentgrass (Agrostis capi
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Contact: Michael W. Neff
mwneff@ashs.org
703-836-4606
American Society for Horticultural Science
Source:Eurekalert  

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