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What have you been up to? – Undergraduate Research Projects

(By Jared Hoyle, KSU Turfgrass Research and Extension)

As the temperatures start getting warmer, friends and neighbors start getting out more.  So when I run into them, the first question I get is “What have you been up to?”.  Many times people think winter is slow because the grass is not growing but actually during the winter is when we try and get a lot of things done that we don’t have time to get to in the warmer parts of the year.  But one thing that we have been up to is undergraduate research projects.

In the fall of 2016 I had three students come to my office interested in conducting an undergraduate research project.  I told them that the purposes of an undergraduate research projects are; 1. Answer a question for an issue that turfgrass managers face, 2. Learn the process to conduct research and, 3. Relate your research to more than just the turfgrass manager but have a social impact.  All three of them agreed then we started brainstorming and came up with three projects.

Undergraduate Research Project #1 – Student – Peyton South

The Effect of Human Insect Repellents on Turfgrass Growth and Recovery

Ever seen this before? https://www.extension.iastate.edu/turfgrass/blog/dr-nick-christians/mosquito-spray-can-kill-grass

That is what bug spray can do to your turf.  Peyton wanted to look into it more and see if there are differences in not only the bug sprays but if there is recovery. He is currently taking data and we will get that information out there once the project is complete.  Here are some pictures of the project.

 

Undergraduate Research Project #2 – Student – Dani McFadden

Will Turfgrass Colorants Blemish Clothing?

Dani’s research project was inspired by a question I got from in education event this past year. There has been lots of research on turfgrass colorants and how long they last but what will it do to the clothing of the athletes if they fall.  So Dani went out and applied a variety of different turfgrass colorants, pulled clothing across the colorants (after the recommended drying time) and then analyzed how much colorant blemish the clothing. Once her project is complete then we will be able to determine which products to recommend to athletic field managers so they can rest assure they won’t have any phone calls about stained clothing.

 

Undergraduate Research Project #3 – Student – Gage Knudson

Prediction of baseball on-base percentage due to infield mowing height

Sometimes there is only a spit second at first base between a baseball batter and the throw at shortstop to determine if the runner is out or safe.  One component of that split second is how fast the baseball moves through the infield.  Holding all other factors constant, Gage manipulated mowing height of a simulated baseball infield to determine the speed of a ground ball hit to the shortstop.  Then he can predict the out percentage at first base.  Gage’s interest in this project not only helps field managers with maintenance of the field but shows how important it is for the coach of baseball team to communicate with the grounds manager.  To simulate a constant speed he used a pitching machine that was aimed at the infield.  Believe it or not that one slit second can be influenced just by the mowing height of the infield.

Winter Golf Cart Traffic and Turfgrass Paints

(by Evan Alderman and Jared Hoyle; KSU Turfgrass Research and Extension)

IMG_2679As some of you may know there is currently a lot of research right now at Kansas State University focusing on the use of buffalograss, and how it can be better utilized to lower water usage. We are looking at many different aspects of buffalograss in homelawns, golf courses, roadsides, parks, athletic fields and more. But one question that repeateadly comes across KSU Turfgrass Extension desk is how does buffalograss hold up against golf cart traffic on a golf course.   Research is currently being conducted to see how buffalograss handles simulated golf cart traffic during the summer months, but how does it handle golf cart traffic in the winter? And how can we conserve water going into the winter months?

One way is turfgrass colorants! There is a lot of research conducted on the dormant application of turfgrass colorants instead of overseeding the dormant warm-season turf. But how do these colorants stand the time when subjected to normal golf cart traffic?

The objectives of this research were to;

  1. Investigate the longevity of turf colorants when subjected to simulated golf cart traffic
  2. Explore the effects of turf colorants on buffalograss at fairway height
  3. Evaluate the effects of simulated golf cart traffic on dormant buffalograss.

As summer is approaching and a blistery winter has passed us, the first year of this research has come to an end.

Three turfgrass colorants (Endurant, Endurant Premium, and Green Lawnger) and a overseeded treatment (Perennial Ryegrass @ 10lb./1000ft2) were investigated over a period of 24 weeks beginning in late October of 2014. The colorants were applied at 43 gal/ Acre at a 1:6 dilution (colorant to water). Traffic was applied weekly at 0, 2, 4, or 8 passes with a golf cart traffic simulator. Traffic was not applied if day temperatures did not reach 40°F or the turfgrass plots were covered with snow.

wintertrafficThe data in Table 1 represents evaluations for percent green cover. As the weeks progressed percent green color decreased for all treatments presented. At 12 weeks after treatment it should be noted that with 0 and 2 passes of traffic weekly, Endurant Premium had more green cover than the overseeded treatment at those traffic levels.

Turfgrass colorants could be a viable option to help with water conservation efforts. Turfgrass colorants performed best when traffic was not applied. If traffic is applied to an area with turfgrass colorants, repeat applications of the colorant may be needed.

IMG_2686At 24 weeks after treatment it can be seen that all treatments are starting to green up after the long winter, with treatments receiving no traffic having the highest percent green cover.

To all the golf course superintendents that allow traffic on your buffalograss in the winter, be aware that in the spring you are going to have to increase your management practice to get that buffalograss to recover before the summer. The buffalograss eventually will recover but…why do you want to start from behind in the spring?

***Mention of trade names or commercial products in this article is solely for identification purposes and does not imply recommendation or endorsement, nor is criticism implied of similar products not mentioned by Kansas State University.***

Don’t forget to follow me on twitter @KSUTurf.

Also, visit our facebook page www.facebook.com/KSUTurf

Evan Alderman Explains What His Research Is All About! (Video)

(By Jared Hoyle and Evan Alderman, KSU Turfgrass Research and Extension)

Back in October I wrote a blog post about some of the research that KSU Turfgrass Graduate Student, Evan Alderman, was conducting this past winter on dormant buffalograss.

http://blogs.k-state.edu/turf/dormant-buffalograss-research-update/

Now it is getting warmer and we are awaiting to see the effect of winter golf cart traffic on a buffalograss fairway and turfgrass colorant longevity.  Evan recorded a short video of what he did this winter.  As soon as we get some results we will be able to share with you what golf cart traffic is doing to your buffalograss fairways in the winter time.  Enjoy!

Always remember to READ THE LABEL for the correct rate, turfgrass tolerance, and specific instructions before application!!!

***Mention of trade names or commercial products in this article is solely for identification purposes and does not imply recommendation or endorsement, nor is criticism implied of similar products not mentioned by Kansas State University.***

Don’t forget to follow me on twitter @KSUTurf.

Also, visit our facebook page www.facebook.com/KSUTurf

Is ‘brown’ really the new green?

(By Jared Hoyle; KSU Turfgrass Research and Extension)

Last spring I moved into a new home.  There was a lot to be done and turfgrass got put on the back burner as other things around the house needed to be done: like pruning trees, painting walls, fixing plumbing leaks, you know the typical homeowner headaches.

Well, around Thanksgiving I was not pleased with my yard, the Kansas Extension Turfgrass Specialist’s, yard.  It was bad.  It was really thin, I haven’t watered it and the tall fescue was about 50% brown. The only thing I had going for me was I didn’t have any weeds.  I am pretty good at killing some weeds.

My Neglected Tall Fescue Lawn - Nov. 28, 2014
My Neglected Tall Fescue Lawn – Nov. 28, 2014

So I got to thinking… A quick fix to what I have been doing around the house is painting. Why can’t I paint my cool-season turfgrass like you would a warm-season turfgrass for winter color too.  So I did…

I used a 3 gal backpack sprayer calibrated to deliver 0.5 gal/1,000 sq feet.  I used a mixture of two different colorant products.  I used this combination because this is what I had on hand and I didn’t have enough for a full application of one or the other.  I mixed 10.5 fl oz of Sarge 2.0 (by Numerator Techinologies) and 10.5 fl oz of Wintergreen Plus (by Presision Labratories) in 1 gal of water.  I applied in two directions for a total of 1 gal/1,000 sq feet colorant and water combination.

IMG_2765
Front lawn 3 hours after colorant application – November 28, 2014

In the picture above you can see what it looked like right after colorant application.  It was a huge contrast compared to my neighbor’s zoysiagrass lawn.  I will have to admit that it looked “Really Fake” immediately after application.  But I did receive a lot of attention: People walking their dogs would stop and stare, neighbors asked what kind of fertilizer I applied, and the best one was “It didn’t look like that this morning, What did you do?”

About two weeks after application it rained and the colorant faded a little bit.  Now the dirt, rocks, and acorns that were present when I painted where not green anymore and it looked more natural.

Dec. 20, 2014 - Front lawn still showing attractive winter color.
Dec. 20, 2014 – Front lawn still showing attractive winter color.

The picture above was taken on Dec. 20, 2014 a couple days after a snow fall.  Not only is the color still there and looks great but my lawn melted snow faster than all of my neighbors.

Jan. 19, 2014 - Winter color still holding on.
Jan. 19, 2015 – Winter color still holding on.

Still after a couple of snow falls, rain, random warm days and cold temperatures the color is still holding on into January of 2015.

Jan. 23, 2015
Jan. 23, 2015

And the most recent picture was taken yesterday, January 23, 2015.  Other than needing to clean the leaves up one more time I would say the colorant application looked great throughout the winter. I think this might not only be an option for winter color on warm-season grasses but also cool-season grasses as well.

Always remember to READ THE LABEL for the correct rate, turfgrass tolerance, and specific instructions before application!!!

***Mention of trade names or commercial products in this article is solely for identification purposes and does not imply recommendation or endorsement, nor is criticism implied of similar products not mentioned by Kansas State University.***

Don’t forget to follow me on twitter @KSUTurf.

Also, visit our facebook page www.facebook.com/KSUTurf