Golf Course Management

FEB 2014

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

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102 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 02.14 out of a modern management system with- out radically changing the cultural practices was doomed to failure. Therefore, we imposed two cultural management treatments: con - ventional and alternative practices that were selected to relieve plant stress and hopefully the need for pesticides. Ultimately, there were three greens in each of six unique manage - ment systems. Results Results of the Bethpage project's frst eight years were presented at the 2009 International Turfgrass Society Meeting in Chile (8). Al - though the experiment has only been applied to putting greens, progressive IPM practices have been implemented on tees and fairways on the Green Course since 2008, and many products and practices have been adopted on the other four courses at Bethpage State Park. The project has continued and been modifed for the past 13 years. Here are a few highlights. 1. It takes time for the turfgrass and mi - crobial communities to adjust to low- and no-chemical programs. In the frst years of the project, dollar spot killed several of the six nonchemical greens while overall stress (not attributed to a pathogen) eventually killed the oth - ers. However, in subsequent years, these greens fared better longer, and had signif - cantly lower levels of dollar spot infesta- tion and damage. Even though the non- chemical treatments were modifed to be "biologically based reduced-risk" (with occasional chemical pesticide use) after the frst years, we believe the turfgrass and microbial populations were adapting to their new environment. Future proposed collaborations with microbial scientists at Cornell may help us verify and quantify our explanations for these observations. 2. The environmental impact of pesticides used could be greatly reduced from conventional levels, while maintaining acceptable playing quality. Using the Environmental Impact Quo - tient (EIQ ) (3) (see the sidebar on Page 104) as the measure, impact was reduced on progressive IPM/alternative culture greens by 33% -85% compared to the conventional pest management/conven - tional culture greens — almost always without a loss in quality (Figure 1). How - ever, in terms of playing quality, there is a big difference between no pesticide use and a little. 3. Golfers seldom perceived differences in putting green quality among manage - ment systems. Unique to the Bethpage project, golfer perceptions were surveyed for 10 years. Between 100 and 200 golfers annually be - came part of the research project by rat- ing the quality of each green while playing a round of golf. They did not know the management system of the greens as they rated. Results showed that golfers almost never noticed differences in quality and green speed that we documented in our measurements (see Figure 2). Golfers were also queried about their opinions on pesti - cide use (see Figure 3). 4. Stress-reducing cultural practices have become more typical in mainstream putting green management. In 2001, the "alternative" cultural prac - tices were a mixed bag of old and new tricks. Irrigation management practices such as not watering at night and watering before turf stress showed were old princi - ples, seldom followed. Today the concept of precision water management is catching on at progressive courses. Other alterna - tive practices such as frequent venting and light topdressing were not common then, but have become the norm as superinten - dents see the stress reduction and lessening of disease pressure on the grass. 5. Several effective low-impact pest man - agement products have become avail- able since 2000. A few biologically based and reduced-risk pesticide products that could serve in a golf course IPM program were available at the beginning of the project, notably Bacillus t ingiensis, entomopathogenic nema - todes, spinosad and Pseudomonas aureo- faciens strain TX-1. Now we also have B. li eniformis, B. subtilis, polyoxin-D zinc salt, phosphite products (labeled as fungi - cides), boscalid, mineral oil (new product Civitas) and others. These products can Edgar Vardales of Bethpage State Park contributes to the environmental program by manually removing deer-tongue witchgrass (Dichanthelium clandestinum). In the Bethpage project to reduce chemical use, progres - sive IPM practices almost always produced greens of quality equal to the conventionally managed greens over 13 years. 094-105_Feb14_TechwellCuttingEdge.indd 102 1/17/14 11:48 AM

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