Effect of irrigation control on St. Augustine grass quality and root growth

Mary Shedd, Michael D. Dukes, Grady L. Miller

Abstract


Due to water shortages, landscape irrigation is limited in many areas of Florida to 1 or 2 days per week. Three frequencies of irrigation on ‘Floratam’ St. Augustinegrass [Stenotaphrum secundatum (Walt.) Kuntze.] were evaluated based on root growth and turf quality. Six irrigation treatments were established using rain sensors set at rainfall thresholds of 3 and 6 mm and irrigation schedules of 1, 2, or 7 days per week. The volume applied per week was the same for all treatments. In addition there was a reduced irrigation treatment set for 2 days per week, with a 40% reduction in scheduled depth of application compared to the other treatments, a 2-day per week treatment without a rain sensor and a non-irrigated treatment. Root mass samples were taken once in 2006 and once in 2007 (15 cm and 30 cm). Analysis showed that frequency of irrigation did not have a significant impact on depth of root growth. The majority of the root mass was in the top 15 cm with 87% in 2006 and 75% in 2007. Turf quality was impacted by irrigation frequency, with 2 and 7 days of irrigation per week typically producing better quality than 1 day.

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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283