Golf Course Management

JUL 2013

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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Top: The University of Kentucky's Paul Vincelli, Ph.D., says his defnition of plant health "includes, but is not limited to disease control." Photo courtesy of Syngenta Bottom: Thavy Staal 46 GCM July 2013 actual health of the turf, the density." — Syngenta's Howard Jaekle, lawn and garden fungicide brand manager • "When you're able to provide stress tolerance, what do you get? You get better plants. You get healthier plants. So I think that's where the words plant health came from." — BASF's Kyle Miller, technical representative • "I personally defne plant health as optimal plant growth and development in the presence or absence of biotic or abiotic stresses." — Bayer's Rob Golembiewski, Ph.D., member of Bayer's Green Solutions team • "Pretty loose. Optimal physiological functioning, I suppose. Includes, but is not limited to, disease control, of course." — Paul Vincelli, Ph.D., Extension professor in the University of Kentucky's department of plant pathology There are skeptics, though, who have their doubts about how the words plant health are used. One of them is Frank Rossi, Ph.D., associate professor in Cornell University's horticulture department. Rossi isn't convinced anybody can truly pinpoint the defnition of plant health. "Like the word sustainable, those words (plant health) are thrown around without any ideas what the meanings in fact are," Rossi says. Rossi says companies "absolutely" can be trusted on their research of products that are marketed to aid in plant health. Still, in his mind, defning what plant health means will be an ongoing issue. "If you could defne plant health, I don't think it would be one single measure. I just think if we're smart about trying to defne plant health, for the future of this industry, we need to stop saying that products make plants healthier," he says. "They may contribute to one aspect of plant health that might help certain people in certain situations. But to say that something is a plant health product is completely ridiculous." That may not sit well with those who pump big bucks into research, development and advertising. "We don't make claims just to be making claims," says Thavy Staal, marketing manager for BASF Turf & Ornamentals. Syngenta's Jaekle adds, "We have protocols going out all the time, we're learning things all the time, and we spend a lot of money doing that. The organization invests $1 billion a year to support R&D (research and development)."

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