Turfgrass and Landscape Irrigation Water Quality: Assessment and Management


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This is especially true where the soil drains poorly or is already high in salts or other negative materials. So in addition to a nutrient and chemical analysis, it is valuable to do physical testing of the soil to determine soil particle size and distribution. The physical analysis will also estimate infiltration and percolation rates. This information helps tremendously in deciding the type and quantity of soil amendments, as well as the necessity of installing drainage systems in the turf and landscape areas.

Soils that drain well allow for the undesirable elements to the leached or rinsed from the soil through the application of additional irrigation water. Irrigation water testing results can be matched to a chart that categorizes concentrations of different materials. Carrow and R. Duncan is an excellent reference.

The book deals extensively with both soil and water quality issues and their relationship. Looking at the different analyses derived from irrigation water testing, the pH reading is a measurement of the degree of acidity or alkalinity of the water. The pH is measured on a scale of 0 —14 with a neutrality level of 7.

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Problems with pH extremes in the Southwest are almost invariable from readings on the high or alkaline side. The number measurements for pH are logarithmic, meaning that each number represents an increase in concentration of 10 times the previous number. In other words, 8. The same is true with acidity, 6. Extremely high pH, our primary concern, can be reduced if necessary. Bicarbonate HCO 3 - and carbonate CO 3 -2 are common constituents of irrigation water, and can influence soil properties and turfgrass performance.

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This reaction reduces the amount of free calcium and magnesium in soil, allowing sodium to compete for and occupy negatively-charged exchange sites on clay particles. Excess sodium in clay results in destruction of soil structure and reduced water percolation though the soil profile. This effect is referred to as the sodium permeability hazard. RSC is important because it's not the absolute bicarbonate and carbonate concentrations that are important, but instead, the relative concentrations of bicarbonate and carbonate compared to concentrations of calcium, magnesium, and sodium.

Typically, water with a RSC value of 1. RSC values between 1.


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EC is a measure of the degree in which water conducts electricity. EC is used to estimate the concentration of TDS in water, using the following equation:. TDS is occasionally referred to as total dissolved salts also abbreviated TDS or total soluble salts TSS , and both are determined using the same equation. Sodium exists in nearly all irrigation water and is not necessarily a cause for concern unless high concentrations are present.

Sodium in irrigation water can be absorbed by roots and foliage, and foliar burning can occur if sufficient amounts accumulate in leaf tissue. Grasses grown on golf course putting greens creeping bentgrass and annual bluegrass are particularly susceptible to sodium toxicity because they are mowed very short, irrigated frequently, and subjected to other stresses.

The relative concentrations of sodium, calcium, and magnesium are important determinants of irrigation water quality. Calcium and magnesium play a major role in maintaining structure of clay-containing soils.

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If water with excess sodium and low calcium and magnesium is applied frequently to clay soils, the sodium will tend to displace calcium and magnesium on clay particles, resulting in breakdown of structure, precipitation of organic matter, and reduced permeability. SAR is used to assess the relative concentrations of sodium, calcium, and magnesium in irrigation water and provide a useful indicator of its potential damaging effects on soil structure and permeability. Typically a SAR value below 3.

Over time, water with a SAR of 9. Sandy soils are not as susceptible to structure and permeability problems, and can tolerate higher SAR values up to 10 in most cases. Chloride contributes to salinity of irrigation water, and when concentrations are high enough, can be toxic to plants. Boron is essential for plant growth at very low concentrations. Recycled water disadvantages : One of the biggest challenges is proper timing of nutrient applications. Excess nutrients may be applied to cool-season grasses at the peak time of water use under hot and dry weather conditions, when they are not needed, or to warm-season grasses at fall overseeding transition.

In each case, stress tolerance and pest management effectiveness may be adversely affected. Recycled water may provide significant amounts of nitrogen, especially if large volumes of recycled water are being applied. However, this may be seasonally dependent. Permanent storage will occur in the soil as organic matter accumulates, but every soil has a dynamic point at which soil organic matter accumulation changes. The time required to reach this point varies depending on soil texture, turf species, and environmental influences.

Close monitoring is required to determine if nitrogen is moving off site or downward into groundwater. A number of parameters must be considered in dealing with recycled water quality. Although the nutrient content of applied water has been listed as an advantage of using recycled water, many of the nutrients may be salts that will influence total soluble salts TSS , TDS, or salinity.

The most desirable situation is for recycled water to have as little residual dissolved or suspended material as possible.

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Recycled water disadvantages: Water quality varies greatly depending on the source of the water and the efficiency of the treatment system. Water quality can range from good to poor, depending upon its composition, and additional inputs to the management program may be required to compensate for this impact. Water quality analysis should evaluate the following characteristics: concentrations of suspended solids, specific ions and pH, total soluble salts and calculation of a leaching requirement, SAR, biological oxygen demand BOD , chemical oxygen demand COD , toxic materials particularly volatile organic compounds [VOCs] , and total or fecal coliforms Table 4.

Local regulations may also dictate additional analysis.

Problems associated with each of these characteristics and their potential effects on turf management are described below. Another consideration is the effect of suspended solids on highly modified soils. Where root zone mixes consist of a high sand content specifically to ensure good drainage and compaction resistance, an increase in the amount of both organic and mineral suspended materials may potentially plug macropores, thereby reducing in filtration and percolation rate.

One management strategy to overcome the effects of suspended solids is to increase the number of corings aerifications. The presence of suspended solids can also affect irrigation system operation by plugging sprinkler head openings and valves and by abrading plastic and metal components. Nitrogen loading.


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All inorganic nitrogen is immediately available for turf uptake. If it is not taken in by the plant or used by the microbial population, it may leach. The management program will be affected if the plants are overstimulated and become so and succulent. This means a significant amount of nitrogen could build up and then be released during the warmest time of the year, when soil temperatures allow for unlimited microorganism activity. This makes it very difficult to control turf fertility, especially after a few years of organic nitrogen accumulation.

Phosphorus and potassium. These nutrients do not normally pose a problem unless the recycled water is being held in a retention lake for an extended length of time. If so, phosphorus and nitrogen favor algal blooms that become a significant lake management problem. The amount of phosphorus and potassium added seldom exceed what the soil can assimilate and the turf requires; in fact, it is rare that the effluent can add, and that the soil can retain, adequate potassium for the annual requirement.

Similarly, the amount of phosphorus typically added will not affect the availability of other nutrients in most soils and may add enough under certain situations for suitable turf growth.

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Calcium, magnesium, sodium. The major concern with calcium and magnesium is not the total amounts of these elements but their relationship to sodium content and the resultant SAR. Excess sodium displaces calcium on the soil exchange sites, causing deflocculation of the soil structure, or soil dispersal.

Turfgrass and Landscape Irrigation Water Quality: Assessment and Management Turfgrass and Landscape Irrigation Water Quality: Assessment and Management
Turfgrass and Landscape Irrigation Water Quality: Assessment and Management Turfgrass and Landscape Irrigation Water Quality: Assessment and Management
Turfgrass and Landscape Irrigation Water Quality: Assessment and Management Turfgrass and Landscape Irrigation Water Quality: Assessment and Management
Turfgrass and Landscape Irrigation Water Quality: Assessment and Management Turfgrass and Landscape Irrigation Water Quality: Assessment and Management
Turfgrass and Landscape Irrigation Water Quality: Assessment and Management Turfgrass and Landscape Irrigation Water Quality: Assessment and Management
Turfgrass and Landscape Irrigation Water Quality: Assessment and Management Turfgrass and Landscape Irrigation Water Quality: Assessment and Management
Turfgrass and Landscape Irrigation Water Quality: Assessment and Management Turfgrass and Landscape Irrigation Water Quality: Assessment and Management
Turfgrass and Landscape Irrigation Water Quality: Assessment and Management Turfgrass and Landscape Irrigation Water Quality: Assessment and Management
Turfgrass and Landscape Irrigation Water Quality: Assessment and Management Turfgrass and Landscape Irrigation Water Quality: Assessment and Management

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