February 2, 2001
I can't believe where the winter is going. It doesn't seem possible that before long I'll be heading to the 72nd International Golf Course Conference in Dallas. It doesn't seem that long ago when courses were shutting down getting ready for winter and looking forward to the Minnesota Turf and Grounds Foundation annual meeting in December. Now I know that once I return from Dallas things have a way of accelerating very quickly. We are trying to get out and see everyone before Dallas, but if we have inadvertently missed you, please let us know.
The Phosphorus Debate
Based on the best information that I have, golf courses in and around the Cities will be able to continue applying phosphorus if indicated by a soil test. As those of you who have worked with me know, reporting a number on a soil test is only part of the answer. One also needs to look at the interaction between the nutrients to determine how much of that nutrient will be available to the plants. A soils test just reporting N, P, K, and pH is not going to give you the necessary information you need to know to make accurate decisions. Last year we wrote two articles on new tests that are available for testing for phosphorus in your soils, and how to determine if what is in your soil is enough. You can access them at www.paskvanconsulting.com and go to news articles. If you know of other superintendents who are struggling with this problem, please pass this letter on or direct them to our Web site.
The Pressure is On!
We have a very exciting project in front of us this summer that could lead to lower fertilizer costs for you, if we are successful. One of the newer golf courses we are working with is operating under a conditional use permit with a stringent mandate. Water flowing though the soil profile in greens and fairways has to be lower in nutrients or leachates than what is found in the woods. The greens and fairways are fertilized, but woods are not. If the leachates are higher in the greens and fairways, as is likely to be the case from fertilizing, the county has the authority to shut the course down.
In order to monitor the leachate levels in the different areas, several collection jars, called lysimeters, have been buried in the greens, fairways, and woods. Their purpose is to collect water flowing through the soil to be analyzed for phosphorus, nitrogen, pH, conductivity, and ortho phosphorus levels.
Trying to ensure correct leachate levels in the playing areas is not going to be an easy task. The microbial life found in the soil of a mature deciduous forest is completely different than what is found in a grass soil structure. In order for us to be able to accomplish this feat, we are going to have to change the microbial influence in the greens and fairways to enable the microbes to tie up more nitrogen and phosphorus. In that way the leachates won't be able to leach through the soil profile and into the underground water supply.
The upside to all of this is that, if we are successful in this approach, we should be able to drastically cut fertilizer and chemical costs. Our plans are to report the progress of this project through our Web site this summer.
Because you can expect ever more stringent environmental mandates like this one in the future, we will be putting together a soils test package that will allow other superintendents to measure the life in their soil. The tests will include bacteria, total bacteria, fungi, total fungi, protozoa, mycorrhiza, and nematodes. These tests will tell you how much life you have in your soil, and what those levels should be. When we have the results, we will put together a program to build those levels in your soils should you need them.
On the Go!
March will find us traveling to Indiana for the Indiana Superintendents Association Educational Workshop being held on March 13th. They have asked that I make a presentation on water issues as they relate to turf grass management. We feel very honored to be chosen for that.
Those of you who are going to be in Dallas for the National Convention in February please feel free to stop by our booth and visit. It is very nice not only to meet new people, but also to touch base with our loyal customers. Visiting at the booth at the National also provides us an opportunity to review soils audits and recommendations for the coming year. By the way, our booth number this year is 1941. Again, we would love to have you stop by.
I hope all of you are having a great winter. Thank you for your support and kindness. If there is something that you need, or questions that you have, please feel free to call.