Reducing Water and Fertilizer Inputs by Incorporating Native Beneficial Bacteria in Sustainable Turfgrass Sod Production

Project Overview

LNE20-407R
Project Type: Research Only
Funds awarded in 2020: $149,910.00
Projected End Date: 02/28/2023
Grant Recipient: Rutgers University
Region: Northeast
State: New Jersey
Project Leader:
Dr. Bingru Huang, PhD
Rutgers University
Co-Leaders:
William Errickson
Rutgers University

Commodities

  • Agronomic: grass (turfgrass, sod)

Practices

  • Crop Production: drought tolerance, fertilizers, irrigation, organic fertilizers
  • Production Systems: organic agriculture
  • Soil Management: soil microbiology, soil quality/health
  • Sustainable Communities: urban agriculture

    Proposal abstract:

    Problem, Novel Approach and Justification: Turfgrass sod production is an important component of our diverse agricultural landscape in the Northeast.  In New Jersey, there are 28 sod producers growing approximately 8,960 acres of turf, with annual revenues of $46.4 million in sales and a total economic impact of $66.2 million. Sod growers are continuously looking for ways to improve both plant and soil health while minimizing inputs of water and nutrients to reduce costs and environmental pollution. Some bacteria co-exist within the roots of plants and in soil rhizospheres, and promote plant growth and efficient acquisition of minerals and water while increasing carbon storage in the soil. These bacteria are collectively referred to as plant growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGPR). We have identified several novel strains of PGPR, BurkholderiaNJPB that are native to New Jersey and are effective in improving turfgrass growth under reduced fertility and water deficit conditions in greenhouse and growth chamber trials. However, optimizing this approach for adoption in field conditions by turfgrass sod growers requires additional investigation.

    Hypothesis or Question and Research Plan: In order to ensure successful inoculation, such that roots of the plants are adequately colonized by BurkholderiaNJPB to elicit growth-promoting responses, effective inoculation methods must first be identified and selected, including seed treatment, soil drench, and foliar spray. We propose that use of effective inoculation methods and bacterial concentrations will result in greater colonization efficiency and improvement in turfgrass performance in the field with reduced fertilizer and water use. Once the inoculation procedure has been refined, various strains of BurkholderiaNJPB will be applied on turfgrass sod farms, which can improve sod production with less fertilizer and irrigation.  

    Outreach Plan: To facilitate the adoption of the sustainable approach of incorporating PGPR as biofertilizers in turfgrass sod production, we will provide educational training workshops or seminars to introduce the most effective colonization and application method, as well as doses and strains of BurkholderiaNJPB to turfgrass sod producers. We will also promote the adoption of this novel approach through extension activities, such as the publication of fact sheets and presentations at Rutgers Turfgrass Field Day and the New Jersey Green Expo, as well as on-site visits and guidance.

    Project Objective: 1) To identify effective and efficient colonization methods of turfgrass sod with Burkholderia strains from New Jersey Pine Barrens natural ecosystems; and 2) To determine effectiveness of Burkholderia strains for promoting turf performance, sod quality, and soil health for different turfgrass species under management regimes with reduced irrigation and fertility in the Northeast.

    Performance targets from proposal:

    1) To identify effective and efficient colonization methods of turfgrass with Burkholderia strains from New Jersey Pine Barrens natural ecosystems;

    2) To determine effectiveness of Burkholderia strains for promoting turf performance, sod quality, and soil health for different turfgrass species under management regimes with reduced irrigation and fertility in the Northeast.

    The information from this project will be applicable for turfgrass sod farms with a goal of reducing inputs for water and fertilizers. 

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.