Winter 2013

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turf tech By Allen Thayer Cut Costs with Better Turf Management Global Soil Survey for Sustainable Turf Gives Superintendents Terrific Tools to Use Dr. Wendy Gelernter asks turf managers from around the world to take the Global Soil Survey. Turf managers from around the world are being asked to take part in the Global Soil Survey for Sustainable Turf. It builds off the introduction last year of Minimum Levels for Sustainable Nutrition (MLSN) guidelines by PACE Turf and the Asian Turfgrass Center. The guidelines for turf soils allow turf managers to reduce fertilizer inputs and costs, while still maintaining the desired levels of turf quality and playability. Now lead scientists Dr. Larry Stowell and Dr. Wendy Gelernter, both of PACE Turf in San Diego, and Dr. Micah Woods, of Asian Turfgrass Center in Bangkok, Thailand, have launched the Global Soil Survey, a citizen science-style initiative that invites turf managers from around the world to participate in further refining the MLSN sustainability guidelines. "Superintendents who tried out the MLSN guidelines were ending up reducing the amount of some of the key nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium by 50 percent or even more and still supporting some good turf growth," said Gelernter. "We had superintendents sort of sprinkled all around the globe trying them out. That helped us validate the guidelines a bit and get some reassurance that no one was going to suffer as a result. "After we got convinced of that we thought now is the time to introduce those on a larger scale and have more people involved in assessing those guidelines and getting further data to validate these things and make them robust so that they will be effective for How to Take Part For more information on the Global Soil Survey for Sustainable Turf or to order the $250 Global Survey Kit, visit the Global Soil Survey webpage at www.paceturf.org/journal/global_soil_survey or the Global Soil Survey Facebook page at www.facebook.com/globalsoilsurvey. 26  www.westernturfmag.com all turf types, all climate areas, all kind of soil types, etc.," Gelernter said. "One of the things that spurred us to do this Global Soil Survey was to kind of go mainstream with this and look at hundreds if not thousands of turf managers to validate the guidelines." Turf managers who participate in the survey gain invaluable information about their own soil nutritional status and where it fits on the sustainability spectrum, while also taking leadership to help their industry become more sustainable. But the goal of more sustainable turf management has been a double-edged sword for many. While almost everyone agrees in principle that efforts to reduce energy, fertilizer and pesticide inputs is a good idea, there has been too little concrete information on how exactly one goes about practically applying sustainability concepts. That's where the survey, and its goal of helping turf managers to fine-tune their nutritional programs, comes in. "When we introduced the MLSN guidelines in 2012," Stowell said, "turf managers were surprised to find how low they could go without sacrificing turf quality or playability. We came up with the idea of the Global Soil Survey, because we wanted to expand the use of this low input concept by making it easier and also more fun to implement." Participants in the soil survey will receive a kit that contains all of the materials needed to package and ship three soil samples from good performing areas of their facility. The samples will be analyzed for about 21 different parameters by Brookside Laboratories, and the data interpreted by Woods and Stowell. The $250 fee provides a comprehensive report that will also calculate a sustainability index for each major nutrient. "We will first analyze that data and give people a report for each golf course and facility and tell them what their nutrient levels are right now," Gelernter said. "We are also going to calculate their sustainability index, which is a numerical rating that looks at how close is their current level of soil nutrition to these minimum MLSN guidelines. And obviously the closer they are to that minimum level the better the sustainability index. The further away they are the more distance they have to go to get

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