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Agronomy Journal Abstract -

Moisture Sensor-Controlled Irrigation for Reducing N Leaching in Bermudagrass Turf1


This article in AJ

  1. Vol. 76 No. 6, p. 964-969
    Received: Feb 10, 1984

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  1. G. H. Snyder,
  2. B. J. Augustin and
  3. J. M. Davidson2



The study was conducted to determine the feasibility of using a tensiometer-controlled irrigation system to reduce N leaching in turfgrass while maintaining acceptable growth. Bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon × C. transvaalensis) was grown on a sand soil (Pomano fine sand, a siliceous, hyperthermic Typic Psammaquent) during a series of 2-month (bimonthly) cycles. Irrigation was applied either daily (Daily irrigation), or when permitted by tensiometer soil moisture sensors (Sensor irrigation). Nitrogen at the rate of 5 g m−2 month−1 was applied bimonthly as NH4NO3, (AN) or sulfur-coated urea (SCU), or as NH4NO3, through the irrigation system with each irrigation (Fertigation). The effect of these treatments on turfgrass color, clipping weights, and on tissue N content were measured. Nitrogen was determined in soil water samples obtained on a near daily basis from below the rootzone using ceramic cup suction lysimeters. Nitrogen leaching ranged from 56% to less than 1% of that applied, depending on treatment and cycle. The AN source combined with Daily irrigation produced the greatest N losses (22 to 56%), and Fertigation with Sensor irrigation produced the smallest losses ( <l to 6). Sensor irrigation reduced N leaching from all N sources. For SCU and Fertigation with Sensor irrigation, the peak and average N concentrations were less than 0.9 and 0.3 mmol L−1, respectively, whereas for AN these values were as high as 2.8 and 1.0, respectively. The combination of Sensor irrigation and fertilization by Fertigation or SCU produced the least N leaching while maintaining acceptable turfgrass growth and quality.

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