Nutrient loss with runoff from fairway turf: An evaluation of core cultivation practices and their environmental impact

Pamela J. Rice, Brian P. Horgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The presence of excess nutrients in surface waters can result in undesirable environmental and economic consequences, including nuisance algal blooms and eutrophication. Fertilizer use in highly managed turf systems has raised questions concerning the contribution of nutrients to surrounding surface waters. Experiments were designed to quantify phosphorus and nitrogen transport with runoff from turf plots maintained as a golf course fairway to identify which cultural practice, solid tine (ST) or hollow tine (HT) core cultivation, maximized phosphorus and nitrogen retention at the site of fertilizer application. Simulated precipitation and collection of resulting runoff were completed 26±13h following granular fertilizer application (18-3-18: N-P 2O 5-K 2O) and 63d and 2d following core cultivation. Runoff volumes were reduced in fairway turf plots aerated with HT relative to ST (63d: 10%, 2d: 55% reduction). Analysis of the runoff revealed a reduction in soluble phosphorus, ammonium nitrogen, and nitrate nitrogen losses with runoff from plots managed with HT; a 5 to 27% reduction after 63d; and a 39 to 77% reduction at 2d. Golf course runoff-to-surface water scenarios were used to calculate estimated environmental concentrations (EECs) of nitrogen and phosphorus in surface water receiving runoff from turf managed with ST or HT core cultivation. Surface water concentrations of phosphorus remained above the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's water quality criteria to limit eutrophication, with the exception of concentrations associated with HT core cultivation at 2d. Regardless of management practice (ST or HT) and time between core cultivation and runoff (63d or 2d), all EECs of nitrogen were below levels associated with increased algal growth. Understanding nutrient transport with runoff and identifying strategies that reduce off-site transport will increase their effectiveness at intended sites of application and minimize undesirable effects to surrounding surface water resources.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2473-2480
Number of pages8
JournalEnvironmental Toxicology and Chemistry
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • Eutrophication
  • Golf
  • Nitrogen
  • Phosphorus
  • Water quality


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