Friday, February 5, 2010

Golf Course Management’s Dirty Little Secrets

How is it that golf courses are beginning to manage turf without all of the inputs thought just several years ago to be necessary?

• Fertilizers applied to greens that approach or surpass 5 pounds of nitrogen per thousand square feet per year,
• growth regulation chemicals to keep grass from growing after applications of excessive fertilizers,
• special amino acids to replace important nutrients and balance the soils that we have messed up with all of the other chemicals,
• products to control cyanobacteria because greens are built in places they shouldn’t be,
• moss species invading greens surfaces because natural selection makes the greens surface a better place to grow moss than bentgrass,
• USGA specification greens that have to be rebuilt every 15 years because thatch and organic matter choke the upper sand layer of oxygen and water,
• insecticides that are being blamed for a mass destruction of the bee population,
• over watering has caused many problems from over-fertilization to increase use of fungicides, not to mention the waste of water,
• Ground water in jeopardy at golf courses that have insufficient mix and load facilities.

The pendulum is starting to swing in the opposite direction! Golf course superintendents are beginning to use less chemical fertilizers, fungicides and insecticides. More and more superintendents are relying on soil testing to augment nutrients needed to grow quality turf. Each day I read stories about a golf course starting on the path of organic products, spraying less and focusing on “feeding the soil”.

The latest report from the golf course superintendents association stated that:

• 202,192,000 pounds of Nitrogen where used on golf courses in the study year,
• 73,620,000 pounds of Phosphate,
• 198,010,000 pounds of Potassium.

That’s 473,822,000 pounds of fertilizers on just golf courses in one year! That’s 361 pounds of active ingredient fertilizer per acre, average, per golf course!
Just Say’n

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