Main content area

Comparison of compost and a sandy loam as turf underlay materials on salt-affected parkland

Poulter, R.
Acta horticulturae 2014 no.1018 pp. 125-131
Cynodon dactylon, Paspalum vaginatum, Zoysia japonica, Zoysia matrella, clay, composts, cultivars, lawns and turf, plant breeders, pretreatment, rooting, salt tolerance, sand, sandy loam soils, topsoil, tuff, turf grasses, vegetation index
Turfgrasses range from extremely salt sensitive to highly salt tolerant. However, the selection of a salt tolerant turf is not a ‘silver bullet’ solution to successful turf growth on salt-affected parklands. Interactions between factors such as cultivar, construction practices, establishment, and maintenance can be complex and should not be considered in isolation of one another. Taking this holistic approach, a study investigating cultivar (The symbol (I) indicates the cultivar is registered under Australian Plant Breeders Rights) evaluation for salt-affected sites also included a comparison of topsoil materials as turf underlay, as well as pre-treatment of the sod. The turf species and cultivars used in the study were: Cynodon dactylon, cultivar ‘Oz Tuff(I)’; Paspalum vaginatum, cultivars ‘Sea Isle 1(I)’ and ‘Velvetene(I)’; Zoysia matrella cultivar ‘A-1(I)’; and Zoysia japonica, cultivar ‘Empire(I)’. The two underlay materials were compost (100%) or a sandy clay topsoil each applied above a coastal sand profile to a depth of 10 cm. Rooting depth or root dry weight did not significantly differ among turf cultivars. Compost profile treatment had significantly greater root mass than the topsoil among all turf cultivars. This higher root production was reflected by improved quality of all turf at the final evaluation. Turfgrass grown on compost had a higher normalised difference vegetation index (NDVI), regardless of whether full sod or bare-rooted turfgrass was used. The use of a quality underlay was paramount to the successful growth of the turf cultivars investigated. While each cultivar had superior performance in sub-optimal conditions, the key to success was the selection of the right species and cultivar for each situation combined with proper establishment and maintenance of each turf grass.