The soiled thoughts of an aspiring superintendent

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We’re not turfgrass managers November 17, 2009

Filed under: DTM 1500 (Turf Communications) Semester One — Graham J. Wieja @ 7:00 pm

The title Turfgrass manager couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to referencing golf course superintendents. Superintendents can no longer spray at will numerous magical solutions for common turfgrass diseases. Under compliance of Bill 64 golf course superintendents are expected to provide great playing conditions with fewer pesticides. An interesting investigation into Integrated Pest Management (IPM) principles occurred in Farmingdale, N.Y at Bethpage Park. One of its’ 5 courses conducted a study in response to three management strategies:

· An unrestricted program that allowed the use of pesticides registered by EPA in New York State. For preventative control of: weeds, insects, and diseases.

· An IPM program based on the needs of individual putting greens. When pesticides were necessary, the least toxic and most effective products were chosen.

· A non-chemical program that used cultural and biological approaches to minimize pest damage on putting greens. No pesticides were used in the program.

Interestingly the IPM greens received 27% to 46% fewer pesticide applications than the unrestricted pest management greens. The putting greens maintained without pesticides were barely acceptable or did not provide acceptable playing quality for golf.

It is clear that golf courses cannot provide quality playing conditions without using pesticides. Quality playing conditions can be provided with reduced pesticide use if golfers are willing to tolerate imperfections. I feel the title Turfgrass manager is wildly inaccurate. A Turfgrass manager would never put the amount of stress that would require pesticide use on the plant as is done on a golf course. Golf course superintendents are playing surface managers and the enjoyment that comes from our product is at risk. Clearly the goal is an overall reduction of pesticide use on golf courses. But I feel the impact an outright pesticide ban would have on golf course playing conditions would be destructive to acres of picturesque beauty.

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