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Influence of Soil Compaction on Three Turfgrass Species

Carrow, R. N.
Agronomy journal 1980 v.72 no.6 pp. 1038-1042
Festuca arundinacea, Lolium perenne, Poa pratensis, aeration, bulk density, carbohydrates, cold season, lawns and turf, montmorillonite, mowing, porosity, root growth, soil, soil compaction, soil-plant interactions, traffic, turf grasses, water content
Wear and soil compaction from foot and vehicular traffic are major stresses on recreational turfgrass areas. Few investigations have been conducted on turf where only soil compaction stress was applied. In this field study the influence of soil compaction on morphological and physiological aspects of three turfgrass species was investigated. The cool season turfgrass species (Lolium perenne L. ‘Pennfine’; Poa pratensis L. ‘Baron’; Festuca arundinacea Schreb. ‘Kenutcky 31’) were subjected to three compaction treatments with a smooth, power roller: 1) O× — none except routine mowing, 2) 12× — 12 times a week for 8 weeks, 3) 24× — 24 times a week for 8 weeks. A fine, montmorillonitic mesic Aquic Arquidoll soil was used. Visual quality, percent turf cover, and total nonstructural carbohydrate (TNC) declined for all species as compaction stress increased. Eight months after compaction ceased, tall fescue and Kentucky bluegrass still exhibited reduced visual quality and percent cover. Shoot density, verdure, and root growth also were affected by compaction, with response differing by species. Increased compaction reduced verdure, shoot density, and root growth of Kentucky bluegrass; decreased verdure for tall fescue; but perennial ryegrass exhibited no adverse effects except some reduction in root weight at the 12× treatment. Compaction tolerance differences among species were determined using the growth parameters measured. With aeration porosity at −0.10 bar water content and bulk density as measures of soil compaction, visual quality rating and percent turf cover gave the best compaction tolerance differentials among species. Species tolerance to compaction, when based on those factors, was perennial ryegrass = Kentucky bluegrass > tall fescue.