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By Keith McAuliffe in on 14 May 2012
This article has been supplied by the New Zealand Sports Turf Institute (NZSTI). NZSTI is New Zealand's leading sports turf consultancy group, recognised by SPARC (Sport and Recreation NZ) as the "standard setting body" for turf maintenance and management. They can offer advice for all natural and synthetic turf surfaces.
There are many strange-sounding words used in the world of sports turf. Although most of these words may have originated from the 'Ivory Towers', they often end up as commonly used lingo amongst practitioners.
To ensure we are all speaking the same language, and as a means of refreshing our understanding of sports turf terminology, we will attempt over the next few issues of the Journal to define some of the more commonly used scientific terms. This month's effort focuses on soil science terminology from N to S.
Nitrification - The biological oxidation of inorganic nitrogen (as ammonium) to form nitrate nitrogen (NO3 - N). An important process in the production of plant available nitrogen.
Nitrogen and nitrogen cycle - Nitrogen is the most significant nutrient in the turf system; there are different forms of nitrogen in a soil system, including nitrate, ammonium and organic nitrogen forms. The nitrogen cycle refers to the changes that occur with the form of nitrogen, as it moves between the soil, plant and atmosphere.
Nutrient - A substance required and taken up by the plant (or any other organism) for growth, such as the essential elements (N, P K, S etc.).
Organic matter - Any matter in the soil system that is in the organic form, generally arising from the debris of plants or animal residues. Thatch and mat are major components of soil organic matter in turf systems.
Organisms - The living fraction in a soil, including fungi, bacteria, actinomycetes and larger groups such as earthworms.
Pan - Any layer or horizon in the soil that impedes downward movement of water, air or root development. Pans can be naturally created with fine-textured or layered profiles, or can be artificially created, such as cultivation or core pans.
Parent material - The relatively unaltered substrate located below the sub-soil from which the soil profile has developed by weathering and other processes.
Peat - A soil high in undecomposed (or slightly decomposed) organic matter, which accumulates under conditions of excessive moisture (no air for microbial activity and organic breakdown).
Ped - A soil aggregate, or unit of soil structure (e.g. crumb nut or block).
Percolation - Another term for drainage, or the downward movement of free water through the soil profile.
Permeability -The ease with which water, air and plant roots can move down through the soil profile. Is a more subjective term for drainage than "hydraulic conductivity".
pH - A measure of the amount of hydrogen (H+) ions in a soil, which in turn determines soil acidity or alkalinity.
Pores - The holes or voids in a soil that give rise to the soil drainage (macropores) and water retention (micropores) characteristics.
Porosity - The percentage volume of a soil that is not occupied by solid particles (will be occupied by water or air).
Rhizobia - Bacteria able to live symbiotically (in a mutually beneficial relationship) with roots of legumes and which are capable of using ("fixing") atmospheric nitrogen.
Rhizosphere - The biologically active zone of soil, containing the bulk of plant roots and soil microorganisms.
Saline soil - A soil with a high soluble salts level. Under such conditions plants struggle to extract water and as such suffer "dry wilt".
Self-mulching soil - A soil that when re-wetted tends to swell and break down to defined, stable aggregates. Applicable to clay soils and is relevant to cricket clay selection.
The NZ Turf Management Journal is printed quarterly (Feb, May, Aug,
Nov) and is specifically tai lored to the turf industry with a range of topical, technical and research articles, book reviews and trade information
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