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Leaching loss of NO3-N and dissolved P from manure and fertilizer during turfgrass establishment

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Cycling of manure nutrients through turfgrass sod could affect groundwater quality. The fate of nutrients in transplanted fertilizer- or manure-grown sod of Tifway bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon L. Pers. X C. transvaalensis Burtt-Davey) was compared with that in composted dairy manure (CDM) applied to a sprigged treatment. Leaching loss of NO3-N and dissolved P (DP) in filtrate (<0.45 μm) of leachate was compared among sodded and sprigged treatments during periods 0–50, 60–110, and 330–380 d after planting in lysimeters. In addition, recovery of N and P in turfgrass clippings and a sand medium was quantified. Maintenance applications of CDM or fertilizer P were top-dressed starting 60 d after planting. Leachate was collected and sampled over three simulated rain events during each of the three sampling periods. From 0 d to 50 d after planting, leaching loss of NO3-N from sprigged Tifway totaled 2.0 g m−2 and was 10 times greater than loss from CDM-grown or fertilizer-grown sod. In contrast, DP loss in leachate was ≤0.02 g m−2 and similar among treatments. Surface applications of CDM and fertilizer P and N increased concentration and mass of total Kjeldahl N (TKN) and soil-test P (STP) in surface or subsurface layers of the sand medium. Yet, NO3-N mass in leachate collected over three simulated rain events ranged from 0.0 to only 1.0% of applied N from 60–110 d and 330–380 d after planting. Leaching loss of NO3-N did not differ between the sodded and sprigged treatments after two topdressings of CDM. Similarly, the DP mass recovered in leachate was small (≤0.013 g m−1) and did not differ among treatments during the latter two sampling periods. The mass loss of DP in leachate was typically less than the DP mass applied through irrigation or simulated rain. Importing CDM in sod reduces NO3-N leaching loss compared to sprigged turfgrass amended with CDM, but NO3-N and DP leaching losses are similar during maintenance of CDM-grown and fertilizer-grown sod from 60–110 d to 330–380 d after transplanting.

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Confined animal feeding operation


Composted dairy manure


Fertilizer-grown sod transplanted to box lysimeter


Manure-grown sod transplanted to box lysimeter


Composted manure topdressed after sprigs were planted in box lysimeter


Soluble reactive phosphorus


Soil-test phosphorus


Dissolved phosphorus


Total Kjeldahl nitrogen


Total phosphorus


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The United States Department of Agriculture Cooperative State Research Education and Extension Integrated Water Quality Research Program and the National Water Resources Institute of the United States Department of Interior provided financial support. The authors are grateful for the able technical support of Kimberly Thompson

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Correspondence to D. M. Vietor.

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Responsible Editor: Bernard Nicolardot.

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Hay, F.J., Vietor, D.M., Munster, C.L. et al. Leaching loss of NO3-N and dissolved P from manure and fertilizer during turfgrass establishment. Plant Soil 296, 1–17 (2007).

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