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Varying evapotranspiration and salinity level of irrigation water influence soil quality and performance of perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.)

Schiavon, M., Pedroza, A., Leinauer, B., Suarez, D.L., Baird, J.H.
Urban forestry & urban greening 2017 v.26 pp. 184-190
Lolium perenne, evapotranspiration, irrigation rates, irrigation scheduling, irrigation water, lawns and turf, models, saline water, salinity, soil quality, sprinkler irrigation, turf grasses, water quality, California
Increasing use of recycled water that is often high in salinity warrants further examination of irrigation practices for turfgrass health and salinity management. A study was conducted during 2011–2012 in Riverside, CA to evaluate the response of perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne L.) ‘SR 4550’ turf to varying quality and quantity of irrigation water. A modified line-source sprinkler irrigation system provided a salinity gradient (ECw ∼0.6–4.2dSm−1) in between lines. Irrigation was scheduled in four separate irrigation zones perpendicular to the irrigation lines according to 80, 100, 120, and 140% ETo. Changes in turf quality (R2=0.30***), were primarily driven by the number of days that the area had been irrigated with saline water. When data were separated by irrigation amount, both time and water quality accounted for 54% and 46% of the variability (P<0.001) in quality and cover, respectively at 80% ETo. A model was created to quantify decline in turf quality in relationship to %ETo replacement and salinity accumulation in the rootzone (R2=0.57). Our results suggest that perennial ryegrass requires irrigation scheduling at 140% ETo, irrigation water quality below ECw ∼1.7dSm−1, and ECe below 3.8dSm−1 to maintain acceptable quality for 442 d in Riverside, CA.