Comparative study of morphological, anatomical, cell wall compositional, and leaf elemental features of traffic‐tolerant vs.–sensitive tall fescue (festuca arundinacea)

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Donelan, Thomas
Thoms, Adam
Arora, Rajeev
Jjagwe, Pius
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Tekeste, Mehari
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Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering

Since 1905, the Department of Agricultural Engineering, now the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering (ABE), has been a leader in providing engineering solutions to agricultural problems in the United States and the world. The department’s original mission was to mechanize agriculture. That mission has evolved to encompass a global view of the entire food production system–the wise management of natural resources in the production, processing, storage, handling, and use of food fiber and other biological products.

In 1905 Agricultural Engineering was recognized as a subdivision of the Department of Agronomy, and in 1907 it was recognized as a unique department. It was renamed the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering in 1990. The department merged with the Department of Industrial Education and Technology in 2004.

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  • Department of Agricultural Engineering (1907–1990)

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The Department of Horticulture was originally concerned with landscaping, garden management and marketing, and fruit production and marketing. Today, it focuses on fruit and vegetable production; landscape design and installation; and golf-course design and management.
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Turfgrass traffic-tolerance is essential for athletic field aesthetics and performance. Tall fescue (Festuca arundinacea Scherb.; syn. Schedonorus arundinaceus [Schreb.] Dumort., nom. cons.) is utilized on athletic fields due to its high tolerance to traffic stress. However, the physio-chemical characteristics and mechanisms associated with traffic-tolerance are not understood. Therefore, identifying traffic-tolerant characteristics would be beneficial for selecting future turfgrass varieties. The objective of this study was to identify morphological, mechanical, and anatomical characteristics of traffic-tolerant and -sensitive tall fescue varieties. Simulated traffic was applied to the 2018 National Turfgrass Evaluation Program tall fescue trial at the Iowa State Horticulture Research Station. A modified Baldree Traffic Simulator applied twenty-four simulated traffic events yearly during August and September 2019–2021. The four most traffic-tolerant/-sensitive varieties, each, were selected based on the average final percent green cover after simulated traffic. Evaluations included leaf width and thickness, leaf angle, plant density, intercellular void space, maximum and final resistive force of three-point-bending testing. Additionally, cell wall constituents, hemicellulose, cellulose, lignin, and concentration of three elements (N, Ca, K) were quantified in the leaf. Compared to traffic-sensitive varieties, the traffic-tolerant group (SE5302, SE5STAR, BGR-TF3, and PST-5DART) exhibited wider leaves (3.53 vs. 2.73 mm), lower plant density (23.4 vs 38.6 plants 7 cm−2), larger intercellular void space (29,532 vs. 10,051 μm2), greater maximum resistive force (0.607 vs 0.350 N), and greater final displacement force (0.531 vs. 0.288 N). The identification of these characteristics could be used as selection criteria for traffic-tolerant varieties of tall fescue in future.
This article is published as Donelan, Thomas, Adam Thoms, Rajeev Arora, Mehari Tekeste, and Pius Jjagwe. "Comparative study of morphological, anatomical, cell wall compositional, and leaf elemental features of traffic‐tolerant vs.–sensitive tall fescue (festuca arundinacea)." Crop Science. doi: © 2023 American Society of Agronomy. This is an open access article published under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license.