Science and Golf II: Proceedings of the 1994 World Scientific Congress of Golf

By A. J. Cochran; M. R. Farrally | Go to book overview

67

Experimental studies on black layer

W.A. Adams and J.N.G. Smith

Institute of Biological Sciences, University of Wales, Aberystwyth,
UK

Abstract

Samples of rootzone materials were incubated anaerobically in the laboratory to investigate factors influencing the production of metal sulphide which is the cause of black layer. Treatments examined included the addition of different sources of oxidised S, the addition of an organic adjuvant, seaweed extract and a comparison between soils with different reserves of reducible Fe. Where the oxidised S source decreased soil pH (FeSO4) sulphide production did not occur. Seaweed extract concentrations greater than recommended caused sulphide production. Larger amounts of reducible iron compounds decreased sulphide production.

Keywords: Sulphide, Redox Potential, Seaweed Extract, Anoxic Conditions, Iron Sulphate, pH.


1 Introduction

A continuous or discontinuous black layer is a morphological feature present in sections of greens on many golf courses. Typically, black layers, composed in the main of FeS, occur within the top 60mm of rootzones (Adams and Smith, 1993) and root development stops at these layers (Lubin, 1987). The occurrence of a black layer is reflected in poor turf quality, probably through the toxicity of H2S to turfgrass roots (Fitter and Hay, 1981).

The redox potential (Eh) of aerated soils is typically in the range +400 to +600mV. Saturation by water virtually prevents oxygen diffusion into soils and following the utilisation of the residual oxygen by aerobic organisms the Eh falls as a sequence of electron acceptors is utilised by anaerobes (Adams and Gibbs, 1994). The rate and extent of the fall in Eh in anoxic soils is determined by the nature and amount of organic substrates, the presence of redox buffers including nitrate (Connell and Patrick, 1969) and other factors including pH. Sulphate reduction, which is carried out by a range of bacterial species does not occur until Eh's lower than +100mV are reached (Vainshtein and Gogotova, 1987).

Despite the more extensive use in golf green construction of rootzone specifications designed to provide good aeration (eg USGA Green Section Staff, 1993), black layer seems to be an increasingly evident phenomenon. There are probably several contributing factors including the use of biocides affecting components of the soil

Science and Golf II: Proceedings of the World Scientific Congress of Golf. Edited by A.J. Cochran and M.R. Farrally. Published in 1994 by E & FN Spon, London. ISBN 0 419 18790 1

-449-

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