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Agronomy Journal Abstract -

Oxidation Status and Gas Composition of Wet Turfgrass Thatch and Soil1


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 75 No. 4, p. 603-609
    Received: Feb 22, 1982

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  1. D. C. Thompson,
  2. R. W. Smiley and
  3. M. Craven Fowler2



Excess thatch in turfgrasses is often associated with decreased plant vigor and increased disease susceptibility. Thatch is the primary rooting medium for many grasses, and is a substrate that possesses many prerequisites for anaerobiosis. The oxidation status and the gas composition in unsaturated thatch of mature Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) were measured to determine if anaerobiosis occurs under field and greenhouse conditions. Soils under the sods included a Hudson silty clay loam (fine, illitic, mesic Glossaquic Hapludolf), a Riverhead sandy loam (coarse−loamy, mixed, mesic Typic Dystrochrept), and an Arkport fine sandy loam (coarse−loamy, mixed, mesic Psammentic Hapludalf). Measurements of redox potentials (Eh) and concentrations of oxygen (O2, carbon dioxide (C02) and ethylene (C2H4) were made. Conditions of poor oxidation, including low Eh and O2 and C02 concentrations, and accumulations of C2H4, were measured in thatch on poorly drained soils in the field and in the greenhouse. Applications of lime and calcium arsenate amplified the extent of poor oxidation in thatch, whereas calcium nitrate improved the oxidation status. Thatch depth and a coring procedure did not influence thatch oxidation. The Eh varied diurnally and was lowest in wet thatches during warm, sunny days when thatch became warmer (by up to 7°C) than the air. Poorly oxidized conditions for periods over 7 h were measured in moist but unsaturated thatch in the field. The temperature of thatch appeared to be important in governing the oxidation status. Measurements of Eh were considered to provide rapid and useful insights into the gaseous composition of wet thatches. Our results imply that phytotoxic products of poorly oxidized environments may accumulate in wet thatch on warm sunny days. Such conditions may also be common in field−grown cores of mature turfgrass which are moved to the greenhouse for study. The relevance of these results to the occurrence of diseases such as Fusarium blight are discussed.

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