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Reference ranges may enhance turfgrass nutrient interpretations


Turfgrass tissue analysis can play an important role in developing nutrient management plans.  Current interpretations are similar to those utilized in agronomic crops where maximizing yield is of primary importance. However, turfgrasses on home lawns, golf courses, and parks and recreation are often grown for aesthetic value rather than maximizing yield. Therefore, turfgrass nutrient interpretations would be of greater value if they used turf quality as a metric rather than yield.  However, no such interpretation yet exists.

In an article recently published in Agricultural and Environmental Letters, the authors identify current tissue interpretations and describe a unique interpretation termed ‘reference ranges’. Similar to human health, reference ranges identify healthy and non-healthy populations, determine the nutrient content of each population, and then utilize the healthy population to interpret values from unknown samples.

In a pilot study, the researchers found that turfgrass nitrogen concentrations from an unacceptable population fell within current sufficiency ranges. Thus, the resulting fertility recommendation would not have included a nitrogen application despite the research team knowing that nitrogen was indeed the causality of the unacceptable sward. The authors suggest that reference ranges would enhance turfgrass nutrient interpretations by more precisely identifying nutrient deficiencies within distinct turfgrass populations. 

Read the full open access article in AEL.