Nitrogen Runoff Losses during Warm-Season Turfgrass Sod Establishment. Academic Article uri icon


  • Concern exists over the potential loss of nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) in runoff from newly established and fertilized lawns. Nutrient losses can be higher from turf when shoot density and surface cover are low and root systems are not fully developed. This study was conducted to evaluate fertilizer source and timing effects on nutrient losses from newly sodded lawns of St. Augustinegrass [ (Walt.) Kuntze]. For each study, 12 33.6-m plots were established on an undisturbed Alfisol having a 3.7% slope. Each plot was equipped with a runoff collection system, instrumentation for runoff flow rate measurement, and automated samplers. A 28-d establishment study was initiated on 8 Aug. 2012 and repeated on 9 Sept. 2012. Treatments included unfertilized plots, fertilized plots receiving 4.88 g N m as urea 6 d after planting, fertilized plots receiving 4.88 g N m as sulfur-coated urea 6 d after planting, and fertilized plots receiving 4.88 g N m as urea 19 d after planting. Runoff events were created by irrigating with 17 mm of water over 27 min. Runoff water samples were collected after every 37.8 L and analyzed for NO-N, NH-N, dissolved organic N (DON), and PO-P. Increases of approximately 2 to 4 mg L NO-N and 8 to 12 mg L PO-P occurred in runoff 1 d after fertilization, which returned to background levels within 7 d. Total fertilizer N lost to runoff was 0.6 to 4.2% of that applied. Delaying fertilizer application until 19 d after planting provided no reduction in nutrient loss compared with a similar application 6 d after planting. Approximately 33% of the N lost in runoff was as DON. This large amount of DON suggests significant N loss from decomposing organic matter may occur during sod establishment.

published proceedings

  • J Environ Qual

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Wherley, B. G., Aitkenhead-Peterson, J. A., Stanley, N. C., Thomas, J. C., Fontanier, C. H., White, R. H., & Dwyer, P.

citation count

  • 4

complete list of authors

  • Wherley, Benjamin G||Aitkenhead-Peterson, Jacqueline A||Stanley, Nina C||Thomas, James C||Fontanier, Charles H||White, Richard H||Dwyer, Phil

publication date

  • July 2015