A fascinating project looking at turfgrass growth in waterlogged conditions is being conducted at Singapore's HortPark by graduate student Vivek Govindasamy and his advisor Dr. Kenneth Marcum, Senior Researcher with CUGE Research - Turf Science. At Singapore there is a lot of rain, averaging almost 2.5 meters annually, the soils are often saturated with water, and in low-lying areas with poor drainage the grass is sometimes underwater.
We don't know how different warm-season turfgrass species will respond to waterlogged soils, and Vivek's project will give some idea about which grasses can tolerate waterlogged soils most effectively, and may provide some idea as to what mechanism allows for that tolerance. Grasses are being grown in plastic tubs that maintain water at levels to either mimic normal soil moisture levels, waterlogged soils, or completely immersed turfgrass plants. Among the grasses being tested in these conditions are seashore paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum), zoysiagrass (Zoysia matrella), and carpetgrass (Axonopus compressus).
Vivek is measuring the chlorophyll content of the grass leaves as an index of plant health and will eventually be inspecting the roots to search for possible aerenchyma development in the grasses most tolerant to waterlogged conditions. The results of this research project will be very useful in that they will provide guidance on which grasses should be chosen for planting in areas susceptible to waterlogged soils. The upcoming CUGE International Turfgrass Seminar on 29 and 30 October may provide a chance to learn about some preliminary observations from these experiments.