A science that creates championship conditions

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Victoria National Agronomy Blog

Fertilization inputs for a more sustainable environment and overall healthier plant.

Golf courses often receive a negative reputation for the use of pesticides and fertilizers. Numerous clubs across the country have well-educated superintendents applying these products based on an agronomic plan at proper intervals for their location. Victoria National’s efforts are conscious of the products used, as well as the quantity. Many clubs across the country have initiated the use of consulting firms and labs to assist in the planning process. Turf Dietitian, a consulting firm that specializes in turf, soil, and water testing has been chosen for this club. Turf tissue tests show the precise amount of nutrients required by the plant to perform at the highest level.

Multiple factors of Agronomy determine what the plant needs to be healthy for wear and recovery. These factors are the soil structure, nutrients carried in the irrigation water, what nutrients are readily available for the plant to consume what the plant is actually absorbing, and the many physical factors involved such as traffic, shade, and drainage. There is no true way to determine what is available to the plant and what the plant is absorbing, without doing some type of testing. To determine the nutrients being absorbed and used a plant tissue test must be done. Tissue tests give mathematical data to base decisions off of when feeding the plant. Without these tests, superintendents could be feeding the plant with nutrients not needed therefore wasting time and money.

Every week an agronomy team member sends tissue samples to Turf Dietitian with a prepaid envelope. Clients will receive back detailed charts of the nutrient amounts in the plant, and if the plant is within the proper range for turf health. These charts show, to a decimal percentage, what nutrients are recommended. Changes in the amount of nutrients in the plant from week to week are also shown. After Turf Dietitian looks at all the nutrients available in our plants, a recommendation is made on what nutrients to apply based on the products the superintendent is utilizing at their specific club. These tests are essential to feed the plant with only the needed nutrients. This ensures the plant will be healthy, reducing unnecessary nutrients into the ground, and no additional expenses.

Turf Dietitian will accept multiple samples and prepaid packages are in office and simply need to be dropped off at local FedEx locations.  This photo is a green sample and fairway sample ready to be sent off.

Having a healthy plant not only makes for a better playing surface, but also helps the club and environment in many ways. Growing bent grass in the heart of the Transition Zone can be quite difficult.  With the wide-range of temperature variances, stress is added to the plant during the summer heat on cool-season turfgrass. Using the precise nutrients needed by the plant on a weekly basis allows the plant to contest off pests and disease more effectively. Diseases on turfgrass theoretically need three things:  a biotic agent or pathogen, a susceptible host, and the environment.   As noted above, growing cool-season turf in an environment where either a C-3 or C-4 grass can be grown leaves a susceptible place for infection of the turfgrass.   By fertilizing properly, one could argue that the plants “defense mechanisms” will assist in the plant strengthening to combat against the issues stated above.  Many clubs are also working towards sustainability by joining organizations such as the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary program.  Audubon is an award-winning education and certification program helping to protect our environment by enhancing natural areas for wildlife, and minimizing potential harmful impacts of golf course operations. Victoria National, like other clubs, prides itself on being involved in many different environmental decision-making processes to improve the quality of human and natural communities.

Disease Triangle and the importance of having a healthy plant.

Fertilizers and pesticides used in the Turf Industry can be expensive due to the smaller niche in the overall Agriculture industry. Turf Dietitian plays a substantial role by giving the club a healthier plant while being cost effective.

Knowing the accurate amount of nutrients needed in the plant, through mathematical data, allows for the Superintendent to focus on only the nutrients required. This prevents over fertilizing the turf, saving time, money, effort, and most importantly reducing the waste of limited raw materials. Due to climates changes pesticides are needed more frequently when the plant is not in good “health” or shows stress. From a pesticide standpoint, many can now give the argument of using the correct fertilization requirements needed by the plant in the specific location reduces the need to apply as many pesticides.  

Reducing the need for added pesticides can lead to a healthier plant, reducing expenses while being more sustainable to the environment.  With the world population increasing and more news about pollution, ozone layers, and limited raw materials there is a silver lining to having healthy golf courses in your community.  Most researcher’s say a golf course of an average acreage of 220 Acres that maintains healthy turfgrass will produce enough Oxygen for over 10,000 people per day. 

Read the Full Agronomy Blog

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