Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 2396–2405 | Cite as

Preliminary investigation on the potential use of two C4 turfgrass species to reduce nutrient release in a Mediterranean drained peatland

  • Vittoria Giannini
  • Chiara Pistocchi
  • Nicola Silvestri
  • Marco Volterrani
  • Valentina Cantini
  • Enrico Bonari
Wetland Systems: Ecology, Functions and Management


This study compared dry matter production, nutrient uptake and tissue nutrient concentration of two C4 turfgrass species (Cynodon dactylon × Cynodon transvaalensis Burtt Davy and Paspalum vaginatum Swartz) supplied with three different nutrient solutions in a sand and peat culture. The 8-week experiment was performed in mesocosms and simulated the conditions of an open-field phyto-treatment system located in a Mediterranean drained peatland (Tuscany, Italy). Peat was collected on the site, and one of the solutions mimicked drainage water flowing into it. Three hypotheses were tested: (i) the species chosen efficiently removed nutrients from both the solution and the substrate; (ii) peat contributed to the nutrient load; and (iii) the species chosen were suitable in the open-field system. Both species adapted well to the experimental conditions and demonstrated considerable ability to remove nutrients. P. vaginatum took up nitrogen more efficiently, mainly in conditions of high nutrient availability. We observed supplementary nutrient uptake by plants in the peat treatment. Performances of the two C4 turfgrasses extrapolated to the field scale seemed effective from a phyto-treatment perspective.


Cynodon Paspalum Peat Nitrogen Phosphorus Phyto-treatment Mesocosm 



The authors wish to thank Tiziana Sabbatini (Institute of Life Sciences, Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna) and Monica Gaetani (Department of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Università di Pisa) for their invaluable technical support.

Supplementary material

11356_2014_3263_Fig3_ESM.jpg (3.6 mb)

(JPEG 3708 kb)


  1. Abira MA, Ngirigacha HW, van Bruggen JJ (2003) Preliminary investigation of the potential of four tropical emergent macrophytes for treatment of pre-treated pulp and papermill wastewater in Kenya. Water Sci Technol J Int Assoc Water Pollut Res 48:223–231Google Scholar
  2. Adeli A, Varco J, Rowe D (2003) Swine effluent irrigation rate and timing effects on bermudagrass growth, nitrogen and phosphorus utilization, and residual soil nitrogen. J Environ Qual 32:681–686CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Beard JB (1972) Turfgrass: science and culture. Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, 658 ppGoogle Scholar
  4. Blodau C (2002) Carbon cycling in peatlands A review of processes and controls. Environ Rev 10:111–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Bremner J (1965) Total nitrogen. Methods of soil analysis. Part 2. Chem Microbiol Prop 1149–1178Google Scholar
  6. Brix H (1997) Do macrophytes play a role in constructed treatment wetlands? Water Sci Technol 35:11–17CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Ciccolini V, Giannini V, Pistocchi C, Bosco S, Pellegrino E, Sabbatini T, Rossetto R, Cantini V, Giannecchini L, Baiocchetti A (2013) Restoration of a Mediterranean drained peatland: a case study in the Massaciuccoli Lake basin (Tuscany, IT). Extended abstract AWARE Approaches in Wetland Restoration 21-25 April 2013, Warsaw. SER Knowledge Base. (www.ser.org/europe), 4 pp. ISSN 2295-5704
  8. Cole J, Baird J, Basta N, Huhnke R, Storm D, Johnson G, Payton M, Smolen M, Martin D, Cole J (1997) Influence of buffers on pesticide and nutrient runoff from bermudagrass turf. J Environ Qual 26:1589–1598CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cooper C (1993) Biological effects of agriculturally derived surface water pollutants on aquatic systems—a review. J Environ Qual 22:402–408CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. da Fonseca AF, Melfi AJ, Monteiro FA, Montes CR, Almeida VVD, Herpin U (2007) Treated sewage effluent as a source of water and nitrogen for Tifton 85 bermudagrass. Agric Water Manag 87:328–336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Debusk TA, Peterson JE, Reddy KR (1995) Use of aquatic and terrestrial plants for removing phosphorus from dairy wastewaters. Ecol Eng 5:371–390CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Dorioz JM, Ferhi A (1994) Non-point pollution and management of agricultural areas: phosphorus and nitrogen transfer in an agricultural watershed. Water Res 28:395–410CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Duncan R (2003) Seashore paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum Swartz). Turfgrass biology, genetics, and breeding. John Wiley & Sons, Hoboken, pp 295–307Google Scholar
  14. Duncan R, Carrow R, Huck M (2000) Effective use of seawater irrigation on turfgrass. USGA Green Sect Rec 38:11–17Google Scholar
  15. Foley JA, DeFries R, Asner GP, Barford C, Bonan G, Carpenter SR, Chapin FS, Coe MT, Daily GC, Gibbs HK, Helkowski JH, Holloway T, Howard EA, Kucharik CJ, Monfreda C, Patz JA, Prentice IC, Ramankutty N, Snyder PK (2005) Global consequences of land use. Science 309:570–574CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Fraser LH, Keddy P (1997) The role of experimental microcosms in ecological research. Trends Ecol Evol 12:478–481CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fraser LH, Carty SM, Steer D (2004) A test of four plant species to reduce total nitrogen and total phosphorus from soil leachate in subsurface wetland microcosms. Bioresour Technol 94:185–192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Hu L, Hu W, Deng J, Li Q, Gao F, Zhu J, Han T (2010) Nutrient removal in wetlands with different macrophyte structures in eastern Lake Taihu, China. Ecol Eng 36:1725–1732CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Huett DO, Morris SG, Smith G, Hunt N (2005) Nitrogen and phosphorus removal from plant nursery runoff in vegetated and unvegetated subsurface flow wetlands. Water Res 39:3259–3272CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Klimkowska A, Kotowski W, van Diggelen R, Grootjans AP, Dzierza P, Brzezinska K (2010a) Vegetation re-development after fen meadow restoration by topsoil removal and hay transfer. Restor Ecol 18:924–933CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Klimkowska A, Van Diggelen R, Grootjans AP, Kotowski W (2010b) Prospects for fen meadow restoration on severely degraded fens. Perspect Plant Ecol Evol Syst 12:245–255CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Lee G, Carrow RN, Duncan RR (2005a) Growth and water relation responses to salinity stress in halophytic seashore paspalum ecotypes. Sci Hortic 104:221–236CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Lee GJ, Carrow RN, Duncan RR (2005b) Criteria for assessing salinity tolerance of the halophytic turfgrass seashore paspalum. Crop Sci 45:251–258CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Litaor MI, Eshel G, Sade R, Rimmer A, Shenker M (2008) Hydrogeological characterization of an altered wetland. J Hydrol 349:333–349CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lulli F, Guglielminetti L, Grossi N, Armeni R, Stefanini S, Volterrani M (2011) Physiological and morphological factors influencing leaf, rhizome and stolon tensile strength in C 4 turfgrass species. Funct Plant Biol 38:919–926CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. McCarty LB, Miller G (2002) Managing bermudagrass turf: Selection, construction, cultural practices, and pest management strategies. John Wiley & SonsGoogle Scholar
  27. Menzel C, Broomhall P (2006) Response of tropical turfgrasses to recycled water in southern Queensland. Anim Prod Sci 46:1645–1652CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Mirza N, Mahmood Q, Pervez A, Ahmad R, Farooq R, Shah MM, Azim MR (2010) Phytoremediation potential of Arundo donax in arsenic-contaminated synthetic wastewater. Bioresour Technol 101:5815–5819CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Nogueira SF, Pereira BFF, Gomes TM, de Paula AM, dos Santos JA, Montes CR (2013) Treated sewage effluent: agronomical and economical aspects on bermudagrass production. Agric Water Manag 116:151–159CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Peacock C, Lee D, Reynolds W, Gregg J, Cooper R, Bruneau A (2003) Effects of salinity on six bermudagrass turf cultivars, I International Conference on Turfgrass Management and Science for Sports Fields 661:193–197Google Scholar
  31. Pistocchi C, Guidi W, Piccioni E, Bonari E (2009) Water requirements of poplar and willow vegetation filters grown in lysimeter under Mediterranean conditions: results of the second rotation. Desalination 246:137–146CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Pistocchi C, Silvestri N, Rossetto R, Sabbatini T, Guidi M, Baneschi I, Bonari E, Trevisan D (2012) A simple model to assess nitrogen and phosphorus contamination in ungauged surface drainage networks: application to the Massaciuccoli Lake Catchment, Italy. J Environ Qual 41:544–553CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Polomski RF, Bielenberg DG, Whitwell T, Taylor MD, Bridges WC, Klaine SJ (2007) Nutrient recovery by seven aquatic garden plants in a laboratory-scale subsurface-constructed wetland. Hortscience 42:1674–1680Google Scholar
  34. Polomski RF, Taylor MD, Bielenberg DG, Bridges WC, Klaine SJ, Whitwell T (2009) Nitrogen and phosphorus remediation by three floating aquatic macrophytes in greenhouse-based laboratory-scale subsurface constructed wetlands. Water Air Soil Pollut 197:223–232CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Rogers KH, Breen PF, Chick AJ (1991) Nitrogen removal in experimental wetland treatment systems: evidence for the role of aquatic plants. Res J Water Pollut Control Fed 63:934–941Google Scholar
  36. Schipper LA, McLeod M (2002) Subsidence rates and carbon loss in peat soils following conversion to pasture in the Waikato Region, New Zealand. Soil Use Manag 18:91–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Silvan N, Vasander H, Laine J (2004) Vegetation is the main factor in nutrient retention in a constructed wetland buffer. Plant Soil 258:179–187CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Soldat DJ, Petrovic AM (2008) The fate and transport of phosphorus in turfgrass ecosystems. Crop Sci 48:2051–2065CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Tanner C (2001) Plants as ecosystem engineers in subsurface-flow treatment wetlands. Water Sci Technol 44:9–17Google Scholar
  40. Tanner CC, Clayton JS, Upsdell MP (1995) Effect of loading rate and planting on treatment of dairy farm wastewaters in constructed wetlands—II. Removal of nitrogen and phosphorus. Water Res 29:27–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Tiemeyer B, Frings J, Kahle P, Kohne S, Lennartz B (2007) A comprehensive study of nutrient losses, soil properties and groundwater concentrations in a degraded peatland used as an intensive meadow - Implications for re-wetting. J Hydrol 345:80–101CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Van der Molen DT, Breeuwsma A, Boers P (1998). Agricultural nutrient losses to surface water in the Netherlands: impact, strategies and perspectives. J Environ Qual 27(1):4–11Google Scholar
  43. Verhoeven JTA, Setter TL (2010) Agricultural use of wetlands: opportunities and limitations. Ann Bot 105:155–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Volterrani M, Grossi N, Lulli F, Gaetani M (2007) Establishment of warm season turfgrass species by transplant of single potted plants, II International Conference on Turfgrass Science and Management for Sports Fields 783:77–84Google Scholar
  45. Wang D, Dorioz J-M, Trevisan D, Braun DC, Windhausen LJ, Vansteelant J-Y (2004) Using a landscape approach to interpret diffuse phosphorus pollution and assist with water quality management in the Basins of Lake Champlain (Vermont) and Lac Léman (France), Lake Champlain: Partnerships and Research in the New Millennium. Springer, pp. 159–189Google Scholar
  46. Wichtmann W, Wichmann S (2011) Environmental, social and economic aspects of a sustainable biomass production. J Sustain Energy Environ Spec Issue 77:81Google Scholar
  47. Withers PJA, Lord EI (2008) Agricultural nutrient inputs to rivers and groundwaters in the UK: policy, environmental management and research needs. Sci Total Environ 282:9–24Google Scholar
  48. Zak D, Gelbrecht J, Steinberg CEW (2004) Phosphorus retention at the redox interface of peatlands adjacent to surface waters in northeast Germany. Biogeochemistry 70:357–368CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Zak D, Gelbrecht J, Zerbe S, Shatwell T, Barth M, Cabezas A, Steffenhagen P (2013) How helophytes influence the phosphorus cycle in degraded inundated peat soils—implications for fen restoration. Ecological EngineeringGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vittoria Giannini
    • 1
  • Chiara Pistocchi
    • 1
    • 2
  • Nicola Silvestri
    • 3
  • Marco Volterrani
    • 3
  • Valentina Cantini
    • 1
  • Enrico Bonari
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Life SciencesScuola Superiore Sant’Anna di Studi Universitari e di PerfezionamentoPisaItaly
  2. 2.Group of Plant Nutrition Eschikon Experimental StationETH ZürichLindauSwitzerland
  3. 3.Department of Agriculture, Food and EnvironmentUniversità di PisaPisaItaly

Personalised recommendations