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The Plant as a Teacher

Dave Wilber


I love reading Frank Rossi's blog.


I don't always agree, but I love the way he invokes thinking and the way he passionately grabs information and makes total slaw out of it. It's an immaculate process.


His latest blog post on TurfNet.com is just such proof. And for the record, I would love to have been the guy carrying the camera cases for these two so they could invoke the Ancient Italian Art of Talking With Hands. I know Dan Dinelli. I spent a day with him a few years back and my head hurt so bad from the mental gymnastic workout of trying to keep up with him, that I didn't speak a word for about 24 hours after our visit. I was drained of speech. Northshore CC is beyond lucky to have this guy at the helm.


I could just picture Rossi and Dinelli working over the BE issues. I can almost hear the words. I can see the sign language. But here is the really cool thing to question: Who was teaching who? I'm not talking about Rossi teaching Dinelli or vice versa. I'm talking about the plant, the turf teaching both of them. And in turn, teaching us all.


I'm into and love to study plant based systems. Where would we be without botanical medicine? How about simple agriculture? Sick and hungry. So when two rockstar turfheads start a debate about a bunch of other rockstar turfhead's work and during that debate, they remember a bunch of situational agronomy where things went right and wrong, they are being instructed. By the very plant that they are talking about.


For centuries, plants have been teachers. They show us a multitude of lessons both positive and negative. If you've never seen it, watch Michael Pollan's amazing documentary titled, "The Botany of Desire". Wherein Pollan talks at length about the connection that plants make to humans via their ability to connect to our desires. The Apple invokes sweetness. Marijuana, intoxication. The Tulip connects to us via beauty. And the Potato, an example of sustenance. And Pollan's work also shows what happens when we try too hard to manipulate plants. 


Do things like Bacterial Etiolation teach? Not really. But the plant does by the way it does or does not allow itself to be affected by BE. I love that. Because inside of this, we can think about all the right combination of chemicals or fertility tactics. Or we can look at the plant and see what it is trying to tell us. In many cases, as Dr. Rossi points out, the answers aren't clear and we are left with more questions that before. A good thing. A very good thing.


Because in the end, my belief is that the plant is the ultimate teacher. If we study nature, we see that. If we continue to study we will always be given the answers. And more questions.


And the cycle means greater knowledge. And even better questions. So cool!


This is why I absolutely love Agronomy. Because my teacher, the plant, is the best teacher I can think of. No offense, Dr Frank or Mr. Dinelli. It's just that way. 


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I was the lucky guy along for the ride for two of their meetings in the past year. Believe me it was everything you thought it would be. You are correct about mental fatigue after a visit. Mr Dinelli is thinking on a different level than any other superintendent I've ever seen. Spending the day with those two is more turf education than a semester of college. Two of the smartest(and nicest) guys in the industry.

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Guest Jason


Friend, when you're ready I'd love to have you visit and share some more with us here in China. I have no idea the Rossi post you are speaking of and haven't met Mr Dinelli, I'm sure however that would could learn immensely from your passion and experiences. Invitation is open...come when you can!

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