Using Manure Based Composts in Turf Management for Athletic Fields
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Bonhotal, Jean; Schwarz, Mary; Harrison, Ellen; Petrovic, A. Martin; Gruttadaurio, Joann
Reducing use of chemical fertilizers on turf is important for human and environmental health. Use of compost is a promising alternative while ensuring turf quality. Manure-based compost used in turf maintenance was assessed on athletic fields at four sites in New York State. Dairy and poultry composts were top-dressed at two rates on replicated plots, and assessed five times over three years. The impact on soils and turf quality were analyzed. The use of manure-based compost on turf grass improved soil organic matter, increased the pH of acidic soils, and decreased bulk density, which are important in reducing injuries on playing fields. Long-term application, improved turf grass quality, reduced weeds and increased grass cover. Turf managers at the sites reported earlier spring green-up on compost-treated plots. Composted livestock manure applications resulted in excess soil phosphorus. High salt levels and immature composts had some short-term detrimental effects. After three years, there was an upward trend in the compost treated plots at all but one site. On sites where fields were poorly constructed or where field-use was very high, compost additions could not overcome these limitations and did not significantly improve turf quality. Lower Phosphorus composts may avoid P concentration with good results.
Cornell Waste Management Institute
manure-based compost; turf; turfgrass; athletic fields; compost quality; soil health