Thursday, November 16, 2006 - 8:00 AM

Degree of Establishment with Vermicompost of Tall Fescue Versus Zoysia.

Kenneth Diesburg and J. Gaebe. Dept. of Plant, Soil and Agricultural Systems, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL 62901

The three commonly accepted, best options with low-input turfgrass establishment in the eastern transition zone, disrgarding bermudagrass, are:  seeding tall fescue in early fall, and seeding or plugging zoysia in late spring.  An experiment was established at two locations comparing the degree of establishment of those three options, including two cultivars, `Meyer’ and `Zenith’ as separate options for plugging, Meyer being a slowly spreading genotype.  A second factor was split within each option, comparing no starter fertilizer to 146.5 kg N/ha applied as urea in a 12-12-12 synthetic fertilizer and as a component of a 2% N vermicompost fertilizer.  Irrigation was supplied at only one of the two locations to assure germination of seed and rooting of plugs.  The degree of establishment was recorded as percent live cover.  As of July, 2006, after seeding tall fescue in fall 2004 and seeding or plugging zoysia in spring 2005, the site with initial irrigation had 22% greater cover.  Covers of seeded tall fescue and zoysia were similar at the irrigated site.  But at the nonirrigated site the seeded zoysia cover was 14% less than that of the seeded tall fescue.  Over both sites, the two seedings, as a group, had 247% greater cover than those of the two pluggings.  At both sites the cover of plugged Zenith was similarly greater than that of plugged Meyer by 201%.  Among all the planting methods, the synthetic starter fertilizer applied to the tall fescue seeding was the only one to cause cover greater than those with no fertilizer or those with vermicompost, which were not different from one another.  Moreover, the synthetic fertilizer at the nonirrigated site caused cover to be comparable to those of the nonfertilized, vermicompost, and synthetic fertilizer at the irrigated site.