Although most products that will be on display at the upcoming Golf Industry Show either in a booth or a catalog have been subjected to rigorous independent testing long before they made their way to market, its important for superintendents to make sure these products work on their respective properties before adopting them wholesale.
Thats the advice of USGA Green Section regional agronomist Todd Lowe in the most recent edition of the Green Section Record. (Click here to read the full text.)
Chemical products typically undergo years of university testing to ensure safety and efficacy under a variety of conditions, there are many products that promise not to harm turf while improving its health, vigor and appearance, such as bio-stimulants, soil microbes and other amendments that are not required to go through similar testing, Lowe wrote.
Lowe and his colleagues at the Green Section recommend that superintendents establish on-site test plots to make sure any new product that is to be applied to golf course turf works as promised and does not harm the turf or pose a threat to those who apply them or those who play on them. With budgets under increasing scrutiny it is important that turf managers spend dollars only on products that work as advertised
Nursery greens are ideal for studying products, Lowe wrote.. If the product is for tees, fairways, or roughs, then an out-of-sight location on the practice area or driving range might be suitable. It is imperative to include untreated check plots by covering an area of turf during application. This can be as easy as laying down a sheet of plywood on the turf prior to application. Make sure to mark the corners of the untreated area with turf paint so that treatment effects can be evaluated.
Be aware that some products contain fertilizer, and make sure that the transient improvement is not simply a reaction to additional nitrogen. Evaluate the color, but also turf density and rooting as well.
PHOTO BY TRAVIS MOORE, CLUB AT SONTERRA VIA USGA GREEN SECTION