June 2018 Vol. 26, No. 2

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Best practices to help turfgrass thrive

Truck watering grass
Photo: MnDOT

A University of Minnesota research team has identified best management practices for installing and establishing a type of salt-tolerant turfgrass. The study, funded by the Minnesota Local Road Research Board, specifically focused on watering practices, soil amendments, and planting date for both seed and sod.

Harsh conditions such as heat, drought, and salt use can make it difficult for roadside turfgrass to thrive. In 2014, researchers in the Department of Horticultural Science identified a new salt-tolerant turfgrass mixture that could be used on Minnesota roadsides. But when the Minnesota Department of Transportation began using the mixture, called MNST-12, the agency experienced a series of installation failures.

“Newer improved seed or sod mixes like MNST-12 may have differing requirements for successful establishment compared to other species or cultivars that contractors and other turf professionals are more familiar with,” explains Professor Eric Watkins.

Over the next several years, researchers studied how water should be applied to new MNST-12 turfgrass installations, the use of soil amendments at the time of establishment, and the effect of the seeding or sodding date on the success of a new planting. Based on their findings, they recommended a number of changes to MnDOT specifications.

LTAP offers turfgrass online course

Minnesota LTAP offers an online Turfgrass Pathology Course. The course, worth one Roads Scholar credit, equips turfgrass managers with the expertise necessary for controlling diseases in a challenging environment.

"The knowledge and improved specifications we gained through this research will allow us to make our contractors more successful, which makes MnDOT successful,” says Dwayne Stenlund, MnDOT erosion control specialist.

Because local agencies often rely on these MnDOT specifications as a guide for their projects, they will also benefit from the improved practices.

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