A.M. Petrovic, J. Gruttadaurio, J. Barlow, E.Z. Harrison, J. Bonhotal, M. Schwarz, D.J. Soldat
Excessive use of athletic fields on non-sand based systems often results in poor turf and soil quality. In many animal producing areas in the USA, farms have excess manure that can be composted and used on gardens and turfgrass areas. Compost has been shown to improve soil physical and chemical properties and the establishment of turfgrass. The objective of this study was to determine to what extent site conditions, such as soil texture and amount of use, affect the ability of composts to improve turfgrass quality on established athletic fields. There were 4 field sites in New York that varied in soil texture and the amount of use. Composts (dairy and poultry) were applied at 2 rates (6 and 12 mm thick) once the first year and twice a year for years 2 and 3. Visual turfgrass quality was determined monthly throughout the growing season. Depending on the site, the application of compost and fertilizer affected turfgrass quality. There was not additional improvement in turfgrass quality with the application of compost over and above that of applying a nitrogen fertilizer on three of the four sites. Only at the site with the lowest use did compost (except for the high rate of poultry compost) significantly improve the overall turfgrass quality above that of the nitrogen fertilized plots. At two of four sites, the higher rate of poultry compost resulted in significantly lower turfgrass quality some of the time, apparently due to either salts or ammonia levels in the compost. On sites with the least traffic, compost and or fertilizer applications significantly affect turfgrass quality on half to three quarters of the evaluation dates. On heavily used sites, turfgrass quality was affected by treatments less than a third of the time. On two sites at the end of the study the poultry and dairy compost treated plots had higher turfgrass quality than both the nitrogen fertilization-no compost and unfertilized plots, suggesting that there may be a potential for long term benefit of compost applications, taking three years to see benefits.
Petrovic, A.M., Gruttadaurio, J., Barlow, J., Harrison, E.Z., Bonhotal, J., Schwarz, M. and Soldat, D.J. 2008. TURFGRASS RESPONSE TO MANURE-BASED COMPOST APPLICATIONS ON ATHLETIC FIELDS BASES ON SITE FACTORS . Acta Hort. (ISHS) 783:425-436
turfgrass, poultry manure compost, dairy manure compost, salt toxicity

Acta Horticulturae