Evaluation of fertility practices during roadside establishment in Mississippi to minimize nonpoint source pollutants.
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Evaluation of fertility practices during roadside establishment in Mississippi to minimize nonpoint source pollutants.

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    Runoff during the revegetation of roadsides can transport sediment and nutrients offsite, leading surface water quality reductions. Two field experiments were conducted near Starkville, MS in 2011 and 2012 to evaluate the influence of various N and P sources and rates, fertilization timing, and mulch type on vegetative establishment and nutrient and sediment runoff losses. Stainless steel runoff frames (0.75 x 2.0 m) were installed in a randomized complete block with eight treatments and four replications during both experiments. A bahiagrass (Paspalum notatum Flugge), tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Shreb), sericea lespedeza [Lespedeza cuneata (Dum. Cours.) G. Don], and common bermudagrass [Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.] mixture was seeded within each frame during Experiment I. Crimson clover (Trifolium incarnatum L.) was added for Experiment II. Fertilization of Experiment I consisted of 73.5 or 147 kg N ha-1 as 13-13-13, poultry litter, ammonium nitrate, stabilized urea, polymer coated urea, or diammonium phosphate. Experiment II mulching materials consisted of wheat straw and seven hydromulches; paper fiber, wood fiber, wood/paper fiber blend, flexible growth medium (FGM), extended term-FGM (ET-FGM), bonded fiber matrix (BFM). Runoff from natural and simulated rainfall was analyzed for PO43--P, total P (TP), NH4+-N, NO3- -N, total N (TN), and total solids (TS). Weekly percent vegetative coverage ratings were collected during both experiments. Experiment I results suggest fertilization program did not have an influence on vegetative establishment or TS runoff losses. Generally, the greatest N and P runoff losses occurred during the first runoff event following fertilization. Splitting 147 kg N ha-1 into two separate applications increased N and P losses. Application of organic plus inorganic P increased orthophosphate in runoff compared to inorganic P alone. Experiment II results indicate straw was the most effective mulch for increasing vegetative establishment and limiting solids and nutrients in runoff. However, lack of fertilizer prill dissolution may have influenced N and P runoff losses during dry conditions. FGM, ET-FGM, and BFM were more effective than paper, wood, and paper/wood fiber in reducing solids and nutrients in runoff. These experiments will provide vegetation coordinators with beneficial information regarding fertilization and mulching practices with the least environmental impact.
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