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Compost application to replace sphagnum peat and to suppress pythium root rot in turf

Pittaway, P.
Acta horticulturae 2014 no.1018 pp. 551-556
Cynodon dactylon, Pythium, Sphagnum, animal manures, composts, disease severity, fertilizer rates, fungicides, lawns and turf, nutrient management, peat, phosphorus fertilizers, root rot, sand, soil, soil conditioners, soil quality, Qatar
In the Municipality of Doha in Qatar, the application of sphagnum peat and animal manure compost at rates of 200 m3/ha/y and 150 t/ha/y respectively are specified for turf production in sand. Application of the selective fungicide Ridomil is also specified to control Pythium root rot. In this trial, a cured, agronomically defined compost was applied as the sole soil conditioner, at a rate calculated to replace all fertilizer phosphorus required during the establishment period for growing Bermuda grass. The rate of application of fertilizer potassium and nitrogen was also adjusted, to improve soil health. At half the volume, the water and nutrient-holding properties conferred to the soil by the cured compost were equivalent to the full 200 m3/ha application of light peat. In combination with the adjusted fertilizer regime, the cured compost also reduced the severity of Pythium root rot by 50%. The results of this trial prove that the soil conditioning properties of compost can be objectively quantified, enabling the calculation of agronomically appropriate application rates. However, if the fertilizer contribution of the compost is not accounted for in the nutrient management schedule, the desired outcome of reducing disease severity may not be realised.