PLoS One. 2022 Sep 2;17(9):e0271236. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0271236. eCollection 2022.
Turfgrass management relies on frequent watering events from natural precipitation or irrigation. However, most irrigation scheduling strategies in turfgrass ignore the magnitude of canopy interception. Interception is the process by which precipitation or irrigation water is intercepted by and evaporated from plant canopies or plant residue. The objective of this study was to quantify the magnitude of precipitation interception and throughfall in ‘Meyer’ zoysiagrass (Zoysia japonica L.) and ‘007’ creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera L.). We used a new method consisting of co-located pluviometers with and without circular turfgrass patches to measure interception and throughfall. The resulting dataset includes 15 storms and 25 individual rainfall events ranging in precipitation totals from 0.3 mm to 42.4 mm throughout the research study. Throughfall amount resulted in a strong (r = 0.98) positive linear relationship with precipitation totals. On average, zoysiagrass and creeping bentgrass canopies intercepted a minimum of 4.4 mm before throughfall occurred. This indicates that, on average, no precipitation reaches the soil surface for precipitation events <4.4 mm. After the point of throughfall, 16% of each additional millimeter of precipitation or irrigation is lost due to interception. Nearly, 45% of the area of the contiguous U.S. could result in >50% of the annual precipitation being intercepted by canopies of zoysiagrass and bentgrass. This study provides detailed insights to understanding the interception dynamics in turfgrass and highlights the inefficient nature of small precipitation and irrigation events in turfgrass systems.