In descending order, by date published.
Species of both warm- and cool-season turfgrasses are grown in Kentucky. Identification of these grasses is critical for implementation of proper management practices. Grass identification is commonly performed by observing specific parts of the plant. For a review of the parts of the grass plant, see AGR-216: 'Turfgrasses of Kentucky'. The objective of this extension publication is to provide concise identification tips to properly identify Kentucky turfgrasses.
The quality of Kentucky's surface and ground waters are of utmost importance to flora and fauna living in these waters. The growth of flora and fauna is directly related to the amount of available nutrients in these waters. In addition, we use these waters as the primary source of drinking water for ourselves and our families. A wide range of compounds may be found in these waters, the most common of which may be nitrate (NO3-). The sources of nitrogen (N) may include, but are not limited to, atmospheric deposition, septic tanks, effluent water disposal, agricultural fertilization, and landscape fertilization. The objective of this publication is to identify and describe the sources and potential fates of N applied to Kentucky turfgrass.
Potassium (K) is an essential plant element and is the most abundant mineral, macro-nutrient in turfgrass after nitrogen (N). Sufficient concentrations of K are important to maximize turfgrass tolerance to stresses caused by temperature, drought, traffic, and salinity. Understanding the function, soil content, and fertilizer forms of K is essential to creating an efficient nutrient management program.
Nitrogen (N) fertilizer is required by turfgrass in larger quantities than any other mineral nutrient because the plant demand for N is high and the supply of N from the natural environment is normally low. In instances where N is not applied according to the University of Kentucky recommendations, applied N can increase the risk of surface and ground water contamination. The objective of this document is to describe the function of N in turfgrass, explain how soil and tissue tests can be used to manage N applications, and to describe the various N fertilizer sources available for application to turfgrass.
Manganese (Mn) is a common component of micronutrient packages applied to turfgrass and has been documented to result in increased greening of turfgrass. In order to effectively manage Mn applications, it is important to understand the function of Mn in turfgrass, the dynamics of Mn in the soil, and the various forms of Mn available for turfgrass applications.
Iron (Fe) is commonly applied using granular or foliar sources to enhance turfgrass color. Iron applications can result in darker green turfgrass as a result of increased Fe uptake or Fe oxidation on the leaf surface. In many cases, Fe results in no turfgrass response at all. Understanding the dynamics of Fe both in the plant and in the soil can enhance your nutrient management programs. The objective of this publication is to explain the function of Fe within the plant, describe the Fe sources available for turfgrasses, and identify which Fe fertilizers are most effective.
Calcium (Ca) is the dominant cation in all soils of agronomic importance and Kentucky soils are no different. Kentucky soils are naturally high in Ca. Consequently, Ca deficiency in Kentucky turfgrasses is extremely rare, and the probability of observing a Ca response on golf courses, home lawns, sod production, or sports fields is very low. Applying Ca fertilizers to artificially increase soil Ca above the level necessary for proper plant growth normally does not result in an increase in plant uptake because Ca uptake is genetically controlled. Regardless, Ca is commonly applied in both granular and liquid forms.
Magnesium is an essential element for all plants. Soluble magnesium (Mg) exists in soils primarily as Mg2+, a positively charged divalent cation. Kentucky soils are naturally high in Mg and, thus, Mg applications to turfgrass are normally unnecessary. However, turfgrasses grown in sand-based rootzones, such as golf course putting greens and sand-based sports fields, are prone to Mg deficiency. When Mg is necessary, it is essential to understand the function of Mg in the plant, the dynamics of Mg in the soil, and the forms of Mg fertilizers.
Phosphorus (P) is an essential plant nutrient and a common component of many turfgrass nutrition programs. Although P application can improve turfgrass quality in some soils, most soils of Kentucky already have adequate plant-available P to support healthy turfgrass growth. What is the function of P within the plant, and how much P is required to sustain acceptable turfgrass in Kentucky? Also, if P applications are necessary, when and how should P be applied?
Turfgrasses have many benefits, but oftentimes people question if pesticides, fertilizers, and water are justified to sustain a quality turfed area. Although these inputs have long been required to produce thick and dark green turfgrass, some turfgrass breeders have focused on improving the genetics of turfgrasses to produce high quality turf with fewer inputs. Improved turfgrass varieties with increased density, better color, deeper rooting, and improved disease resistance through improved breeding can reduce the overall environmental footprint. Many people select a turfgrass species and variety based on cost, but choosing an improved variety can reduce environment risk and overall maintenance costs in the long-run.
The best grass for your lawn is not necessarily the one you like the best, but the one that is best adapted to where you live and will take less work and fewer inputs (water, fertilizer, pesticides). Many people think that since Kentucky is the "Bluegrass State," it's best to grow Kentucky bluegrass across our state. Actually, Kentucky bluegrass is only marginally adapted to our climate and can require more inputs to keep an appealing lawn than some other choices. In general, Kentucky bluegrass can be an option for parts of central and eastern Kentucky, while zoysiagrass may be a better option in western Kentucky. Tall fescue is adapted to the entire state so is a good choice for most locations. Perennial ryegrasses and fine fescues are occasionally useful in different areas of the state, depending on specific conditions.
Calibrating application equipment is something many people avoid because they believe it is too time consuming or that the math involved is too confusing. Calibration, however, is critical. Applying too little can result in poor pest control and can lead to pesticide resistance. Whereas, over applying can be bad for the environment, damage the grass, and wastes money. There are several methods for calibrating sprayers. Choose the one that makes the most sense to you. Three different methods are described below. All these methods are reliable and will provide very similar application accuracy.
Bermudagrasses have been successfully grown on athletic fields and golf courses in the transition zone for many years. Although each year some level of winterkill threat exists, bermudagrass remains an excellent surface for golf and sports. Seeded varieties of bermudagrasses have been the most common choices in Kentucky due to the availability of seed of good varieties as well as the ease of planting seed versus living plant material. There are, however, several outstanding vegetative bermudagrass cultivars that are adapted to the transition zone.