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Growing turf on salt-affected foreshore sites

By | February 4, 2013 at 9:41 am | No comments | Provisioning

Site preparation

  • Select an area for cutting out that is in full sun.
  • Level the area, taking out surplus existing soil.
  • Aerate soil with solid tynes to a depth of about 200 mm to relieve compaction.
  • Test soil pH, electrical conductivity (EC), texture, and nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) levels.
  • Use the soil test as a basis for determining the base rate of complete fertiliser to be mixed into the turf underlay or topdressed. Adjust pH to be within the range 5.5 to 7.0. If acid, add lime. If neutral or alkaline, add gypsum.
  • Spread a minimum of 5 cm of quality topsoil. Use turf underlay or straight sandy loam.

The site is now ready for the delivery of turf.

Laying turf

Note: This activity can be contracted out to the sod supplier or other industry professional.

  • Do not order turf unless provision has been made for irrigation during the establishment and post-establishment phase.
  • Use seashore paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum), a turfgrass with tolerance to high levels of salinity, which will grow from pH range from 3.5-10.0. Order this as mats or rolls.
  • Organise labour for laying turf. The objective is to lay freshly cut turf as soon as possible after delivery.
  • Lay turf across the direction of surface water flow.
  • Ensure that mats/rolls are laid systematically across the site and that the edges are butted up closely against each other, preventing gaps. Do not stretch or overlap mats.

Care of new turf

  • Rope off the area to discourage traffic in the first few weeks if possible.
  • New turf requires a properly set up and uniform sprinkler irrigation system. All sprinkler heads must be checked to ensure that they are in good working order. The system must deliver a uniform volume of water across all parts of the site.
  • Applied water should not be high in salts, particularly on clay-based sites. Recycled water can be acceptable.
  • The quantity of water applied should exceed the evapotranspiration rate of the grass by about 10%, with the aim to leaching salts down the profile and away from the root zone.
  • Water daily to encourage root growth in the first 14 days.
  • After the first fortnight, irrigation intervals can be extended and slightly higher volume of water can be applied to encourage the development of a deep root system.
  • Continue with irrigation for 2-3 months to ensure full establishment and deep root development.
  • Spot-spray grass weeds with glyphosate or apply pool salt directly onto the weeds.

Early post-establishment maintenance

  • Fertilise with 50 kg N/ha of quick release nitrogen every three months in the first year (giving a total of 200 kg N/ha/year).
  • Roll after the grass is established (several months).
  • Topdress to level if required.

On-going maintenance

  • Routinely check that the irrigation system is operating effectively (e.g. check the alignment of the system and for nozzle wear).
  • Conduct an annual soil analysis, deep tyne aerate to 200 mm (if possible), amend with fertilisers as suggested in the soil analysis (this may be a N:P:K blend and/or lime and/or gypsum), topdress, and lightly fertilise with a 100% controlled release nitrogen fertiliser.
  • In South East Queensland mow 18 times per year (with higher frequency in the warmer months).

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