Currently, in the USA and especially in the Midwest region, urban expansion is developing turfgrass landscapes surrounding commercial sites, homes, and recreational areas on soils that have been agriculturally managed for decades. Often, golf courses are at the forefront of conversations concerning anthropogenic environmental impacts as they account for some of the most intensively managed soils in the world. Iowa golf courses provide an ideal location to evaluate whether golf course management is affecting the quality of soils at depth. Our study evaluated how soil properties relating to soil health and resiliency varied with depth at golf courses across Iowa and interpreted relationships of these properties to current golf course management, previous land use, and inherent soil properties. Systematic variation in soil properties including sand content, NO3, and soil organic matter (SOM) were observed with depth at six Iowa golf courses among three landform regions. Variability in sand content was identified between the 20 and 50 cm depth classes at all courses, where sand content decreased by as much as 37 %. Highest concentrations of SOM and NO3 were found in the shallowest soils, whereas total C and P variability was not related to golf course management. Sand content and NO3 were found to be directly related to golf course management, particularly at shallow depths. The effects of golf course management dissipated with depth and deeper soil variations were primarily due to natural geologic conditions. The two abovementioned soil properties were very noticeably altered by golf course management and may directly impact crop productivity, soil health, and water quality, and while NO3 may be altered relatively quickly in soil through natural processes, particle size of the soil may not be altered without extensive mitigation. Iowa golf courses continue to be developed in areas of land use change from historically native prairies and more recently agriculture to urban landscapes. As soils are continually altered by human impacts, it is imperative that we monitor the changes, both physical and chemical, in order to establish management practices that maintain environmental sustainability and productivity.
Streeter, Matthew T. and Schilling, Keith E., "Effects of golf course management on subsurface soil properties in Iowa" (2018). Iowa Nutrient Research Center Publications and Presentations. 2.