Turfgrass Quality, Growth, and Water Use Influenced by Salinity and Water Stress

Dorothy E. Dean
Dale A Devitt
Linda Verchick
Robert Morris

   Limited water resources in the arid southwestern USA have created greater interest on the part of municipalities to utilize nonpotable waters in urban areas.  Research was conducted to assess the feasibility of using a perched saline aquifer as an alternative irrigation source for turfgrass.  Two line-source irrigation gradients, one using municipal water with an EC of approximately 1.1 dS m-1 and the other using saline aquifer water blended with municipal water to an EC of 6.0 dS m-1, were established to impose a salinity and/or water deficit gradient on tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Schreb. 'Monarch') and an improved common bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon L. 'Numex Sahara').  Yield was found to be highly correlated with actual evapotranspiration (ETa)(r = 0.92, P < 0.001 for bermudagrass; r = 0.83, P < 0.001 for tall fescue), regardless of how the stress was imposed.  Relative ETa (ratio of ETa to maximum ETa under municipal irrigation) values as a function of the summation of the leaf-to-air temperature differences also indicated no distinguishable change in stress response based on water quality (r = 0.94, P < 0.001 for tall fescue; r = 0.86, P < 0.001 for bermudagrass).  Relative turf color and percent cover remained unchanged if the ratio of irrigation volume to potential evapotranspiration (I/ETo) remained above species-specific threshold values of 0.80 for tall fescue and 0.65 for bermudagrass.  Below these thresholds, cover and color declined linearly, with differences due to water quality treatment in tall fescue but with no differences due to water quality treatment in bermudagrass.

Article published in the Agronomy Journal Vol.88, No. 5, 844-849pp. 1996
for more information please contact Dr. Dale Devitt

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