T. Rufty, D. Bowman, G. Miller, M. Jennette, L. Warren, D.S. Carley, C. Peacock, F. Yelverton
There is public concern that fertilization of golf course turf may contribute to contamination of surface and ground waters. The purpose of this research was to determine whether nitrate concentrations increased in streams passing through golf courses in the mountains of western North Carolina. The topography of the region has substantial relief, and soils are generally shallow and have relatively low microbial activity, conditions that would increase the probability of nitrate loss. Streams entering and leaving four golf courses was monitored over a thirty month period, and on one course with sufficient soil depth, shallow wells were installed to sample subsurface water flow. The results showed that nitrate levels varied during the year, but on three of the golf courses, nitrate concentrations in streams were consistently higher at the point of inflow onto the course compared to outflow. On a fourth course, outflow nitrate concentrations were higher than at inflow, but the increase was apparently due to feeder streams that entered the course from adjacent farming areas and from a municipal waste treatment facility. Elevated nitrate could be detected in ponds on two of the courses, typically during the winter months (December – March) when no fertilizer was being added to the turfgrass. Higher nitrate was detected in wells located beneath fairways, but nitrate in the subsurface water was reduced to near background levels in close proximity to a stream, perhaps reflecting denitrification in the riparian zone. The results, collectively, show that multiple natural and anthropogenic factors affect nitrate concentrations in surface waters of golf course. There was no indication that elevated nitrate levels resulted directly from golf course fertilization.
Rufty, T., Bowman, D., Miller, G., Jennette, M., Warren, L., Carley, D.S., Peacock, C. and Yelverton, F. 2008. SURFACE WATER QUALITY ADJACENT TO GOLF COURSES IN THE SOUTHERN APPALACHIA. Acta Hort. (ISHS) 783:229-238
turfgrass, nitrate, nitrate pollution

Acta Horticulturae