On March 28 (or March 29 in Asia), Episode 23 of the Turf Diseases Turf Chat will be on the subject of Soil Nutrients and Weed Management. This promises to be an interesting discussion, led by Dr. Scott McElroy from Auburn University and hosted by Dr. Larry Stowell of PACE Turf.
It is a well-known phenomenon that application of nitrogen favors grasses and reduces species diversity (i.e. reduces the number of weedy species), while increasing the soil pH through addition of lime, and adding potassium fertilizers, as an example, can increase the prevalence of weeds. In a brief exchange on twitter last week, we discussed this, and decided to make this subject the focus of the upcoming Turf Chat.
Dr. McElroy says that this phenomenon is already known, while I would argue that despite it being noticed more than 150 years ago, and the mechanisms of this worked out more recently, among turfgrass managers, there is not universal knowledge of these principles.
That was the subject of an article I wrote with Dr. Frank Rossi from Cornell University about the Park Grass Experiment and some of the results from this classic experiment, especially the noted absence of dandelions from plots to which potassium fertilizer is withheld.
For more detail about this, please read our article about Park Grass from the Green Section Record, and you can find a list of references at the end of that article for additional reading. Of particular interest may be this one, by Silvertown et al., The Park Grass Experiment 1856-2006: its contribution to ecology.