2006 Annual Report
This report serves to document research conducted under a Specific Cooperative Agreement between ARS and West Virginia State University (WVSU). Additional details of research can be found in the report for the parent project 1932-61000-002-00D, Management of Appalachian Soil Resources/1932-12000-004-00D, Managing Biogeochemical Cycles and Rhizosphere Ecology for Sustainable Production of Appalachian Pasture and Amenity Grasses.
The National Turfgrass Initiative identified (a) the use of agricultural and municipal by-products as soil amendments and (b) the development of improved soil management practices for the restoration of degraded lands as key priorities for turfgrass research. This SCA builds upon existing research into anaerobic digestion by-products at WVSU and previous research at the AFSRC into the use of coal-combustion by-products as soil amendments to evaluate the potential for improving the chemical, physical, and biological properties of degraded soils using combinations of agricultural and/or industrial by-products. Successful completion of this research will provide new options for the management of turf and amenity grass soils using agricultural and/or industrial by-products that promote or maintain production while reducing the agricultural waste stream.
Approach: Collaborative research with WVSU will establish specifications for desirable physical and chemical soil characteristics for the establishment and maintenance of amenity grasses on degraded sites. Constructed soils will then be developed from combinations of anaerobically-digested poultry litter solids and liquids (created as part of the Bioplex project, WVSU), agricultural by-products (e.g., animal manures, sawdust) and industrial by-products (e.g., gypsum, fly ash, mine spoil, subsoil) that meet or exceed the desired specifications. Constructed soil matrices will be analyzed for physical and chemical properties that affect plant growth, water movement, and soil stability. Constructed soils that meet or exceed desired physical and chemical specifications will be planted with amenity grasses in greenhouse studies and compared to grasses grown on a productive control soil.
Progress: A postdoctoral research associate was hired by West Virginia State University in March 2006 (co-located at the AFSRC lab in Beaver, WV). A literature review of desired soil characteristics for turfgrass soils and restoration applications is currently underway. Findings will be summarized into a review article that specifies desirable soil properties and the agricultural and/or industrial by-products that may be used to meet these specifications. Agricultural, municipal, and industrial operations within the Appalachian region were contacted to determine the availability of selected by-product materials and a suite of potential materials collected and transported to the AFSRC. These materials are currently being processed and prepared for analysis (anticipated completion summer/fall, 2006). Results of analyses will be used to develop "recipes" for constructed soils that meet or exceed the specifications for turf production. Greenhouse trials of constructed soil materials are expected to begin in the fall of 2006.