Journal of Undergraduate Research


nitrogen, water interactions in drought, Kentucky bluegrass


Life Sciences


Plant and Wildlife Sciences


Turfgrass is the irrigated crop of greatest acreage in the United States. As urban and suburban developments are growing at an unprecedented rate, the demand for turfgrass is in high demand. Its ecosystem services are valuable and include groundwater protection, erosion control, soil health, and air purification. It also provides high utility to residential and public lands. Despite its environmental benefits, turfgrass has been brought under scrutiny due to natural resource consumption and pollution, particularly in arid and semi-arid regions of the western US. Turfgrass requires a significant amount of irrigation water, a resource that is scarce in the arid and semi-arid regions of the west. Along with high water demand, healthy turfgrass requires nutrient application. Over fertilization leads to an increase in water use, which may lead to runoff resulting in pollution of the atmosphere and hydrosphere and can permanently damage rare and fragile ecosystems surrounding turfgrass. Increased nutrients, especially nitrogen (N) and phosphorous, in waterways leads to algal blooms and speeds up the natural eutrophication process. An increase in algal blooms may result in injury or death to aquatic life and negatively impact organisms’ drinking water. Just recently in July 2016, Utah Lake was closed down due to a harmful algal bloom, leading to damage to the local ecosystem and surrounding areas that rely on water from Utah Lake for irrigation. Over fertilization and irrigation are partially to blame.