The sustainability of water resources and of green spaces will become increasingly important for quality of life in the future. The efficient utilization of turfgrasses to remediate organic pollutants in these efforts can be an important component of a sustainability strategy. Research has established that significant differences exist between plants in their remediation abilities: different abilities of plants to adsorb and absorb pollutants; different exudates being released from the root systems; and different microbial populations associated with roots of different plants.
In a recent project funded by the United States Golf Association, we have recently shown that vegetative filter strips (VFS) established with four different plant species and with turfgrass dramatically reduced runoff and leaching and attenuated the amount of pesticides in these water-generated processes. Interestingly, none of the plant-established VFS outperformed the turfgrass-established VFS and in most cases the turfgrass VFS was significantly more efficient in decreasing runoff and leaching and in the removal of pesticide residues.
This new project will examine the performance of three turfgrass species that are commonly used on home lawns, golf courses and on athletic fields. It wll utilize the runon plot at the Joseph Troll Turf Research Center in South Deerfield, Massachusetts. This plot consists of 12 replicated VFS, which allows us to replicate up to four separate treatment (N = 3, each). It allows the collection of runoff, soil samples and pore water at two different depths. If successful, the research proposed will result in the development of an "optimized" VFS for golf courses, home lawns, etc., established in an easily maintained, readily available, and aesthetically pleasing turfgrass species providing the turfgrass industry with information on the performance of three low maintenance turfgrass cultivars, which differ in their cold tolerance, salinity tolerance, shade tolerance and nitrogen requirements, in attenuating the concentrations of pesticides in runoff and leachate after their application as simulated runon during the 1- and 5-year rain events.