The Robert A. Moore Endowment Fund, established in the name of Aquatrols’ late founder, is currently financing a two-year study of cultivation practices and products to reduce salinity in golf course fairways.
Dr. Joseph Young, Dr. Theophilius Udeigwe, and Masters student Li Li (all of Texas Tech University), are conducting the study at two golf courses in Lubbock, Texas. The objectives of the study are to:
- Evaluate the effectiveness of treatment combinations on soil salinity reductions through soil testing.
- Incorporate digital image analysis and an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) equipped with NDVI camera to demonstrate improved turf health with reduced salinity.
- Develop predictive relationships for rapid soil salinity evaluations using a handheld portable x-ray fluorescence (PXRF) instrument.
According to Dr. Young and his team, golf course superintendents in the Southern, Western, and Southwestern United States are facing unique challenges related to poor irrigation water quality. As drought persists in these regions, the quality of groundwater continues to decline as withdrawals from groundwater sources outpace recharge rates.
A lack of adequate rainfall to leach salts through the rootzone can result in high salt accumulations in the soil that “could alter the chemical and hydrological properties of soil, such as hydraulic conductivity, permeability, water holding capacity, and thus water availability to turfgrass, undermining water conservation efforts.”
— Texas Tech Turf Sci. (@TTUturf) June 17, 2015
While researchers expect the most success in reducing salinity levels to come from a combination of product applications and cultivation practices, they will also look at product treatments in non-cultivated areas. If successful on their own, these products could greatly benefit lower-budget golf courses that may not have the equipment or manpower to conduct salinity-reducing cultivation practices on a regular basis.
This study is directly in line with the vision of the Robert A. Moore Endowment Fund, which was established to support applied research for optimizing the growing environment for golf course turf, with specific goals for increasing the effectiveness of applied water, fertilizers, and pesticides. The United States Golf Association is supplying additional funding for the study.
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