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August 2010

Report and Video on New Warm Season Greens Grasses

Matt_rocheIf you attended the Sustainable Turfgrass Management in Asia 2010 conference, you met Matt Roche and saw his presentations about the trials being conducted at Australia to evaluate new warm-season grasses (bermudagrass and seashore paspalum varieties) and to determine the best management guidelines for these grasses. The final report on this project is now available for download from AGCSA Tech:

Management Guidelines for New Warm-Season Grasses in Australia, Matt Roche et al., 167 pages, 4.6MB

In addition to the full report, which includes information about many grasses used in Asia such as TifDwarf, MiniVerde, TifEagle, Novotek, Sea Isle 2000, Sea Isle Supreme, and SeaDwarf, a video presentation with a summary of the project and key results is also available for viewing:

Video Webcast of Matt Roche on Final Results of Australian Warm Season Grass Trials

Bangkok's Best Park, Algae, and Phosphorus


This afternoon I was at my favorite park in Bangkok, the King Rama IX Park. This park is near my residence and when I am in Bangkok I frequently go to this park in the early morning or late afternoon for jogging. Today I noticed a lot of algae growing in the ponds —see above the clean water amongst the Victoria amazonica lilies and the algae everywhere else — and was reminded of three things I wanted to share about phosphorus, and phosphorus fertilizer applied to turfgrass in particular. 

1. Phosphorus is essential for food production, is a limited resource, and common sense tells us that we should not apply it to turf if it is not absolutely necessary. Earlier this year I read an interesting article in Foreign Policy entitled Peak Phosphorus. The authors argue that "our dwindling supply of phosphorus, a primary component underlying the growth of global agricultural production, threatens to disrupt food security across the planet during the coming century. This is the gravest natural resource shortage you've never heard of."

I can assure you, if there is adequate phosphorus in the soil, adding more will have no beneficial affect to the turf. How can you tell if phosphorus is necessary? By a routine soil analysis. I use 35 parts per million (ppm) phosphorus on a Mehlich 3 soil test as a conservative threshold level for deciding whether phosphorus fertilizer is required or not. If you are applying fertilizer without doing a soil test, you are probably wasting money and over-applying phosphorus. And if you are applying phosphorus fertilizer to turfgrass growing on soil that has 35 ppm phosphorus or more, you may as well shred money and apply that to the grass. The effect on the turf will be the same.

2. Back to the algae in the water at the Rama IX Park, that algae would not be growing if there was not phosphorus in the water. Phosphorus is usually the limiting factor in algal blooms (eutrophication) of water bodies. Adding phosphorus to turfgrass when that phosphorus is not needed will increase the risk of polluting nearby water bodies and will have no effect on the grass.

3. People ask me how to prevent algae from growing on putting greens. There are a number of techniques to employ, but an essential one is to avoid unnecessary applications of phosphorus. Dr. John Kaminski, Director of the Golf Turf Management Program at Pennsylvania State University, has done research on creeping bentgrass turf during summer conditions to evaluate the effect of different fertilizers on algae. In summary, the results have shown that applying nitrogen only (particularly ammonium sulfate, 21-0-0) prevents algae, while adding phosphorus causes a tremendous increase in algae. From a paper Kaminski published in the International Turfgrass Society Research Journal, there was no algae (0%) in plots fertilized through the summer with ammonium sulfate. A complete fertilizer containing phosphorus (20-20-20) always had algae and in some cases more than 20% of the surface area was covered by algae rather than grass. If you often have an algae problem on your greens, you may want to reevaluate your phosphorus fertilization program.

P.S. At the time I wrote this post in 2010, I was using 35 ppm for P. After the development of the MLSN guidelines, I use them instead, and as of 2016 I'd work with a minimum P level by the Mehlich 3 test of 21 ppm.

Zoysia Sod 45 Days After Planting?!!!

Zoysiagrass is especially well-adapted to East and Southeast Asia. At Thailand, the local variety of zoysia grows so well that the time from planting to harvest is only 45 days. I wrote an article describing the process of zoysia production near Bangkok and this article has been published in the summer 2010 issue of the Hawaii Golf Course Superintendents Association newsletter. Download the article here, or watch the video below from YouTube.

A Report from Indonesia: Turf Seminar XI

Aspgi_agif_field_seminar I have just been at Java for the Turf Seminar XI of the Asosiasi Superintendent Padang Golf Indonesia (ASPGI). This seminar was supported by the Asian Golf Industry Federation (AGIF) and featured classroom and practical field seminars by industry experts. Emeralda Golf Club was the venue for Turf Seminar XI and there were nearly 100 golf course superintendents in attendance at this educational program.

I spoke about managing the rootzone to optimize playing conditions; that presentation includes a lot of discussion about pore space, soil organic matter and its management, and how to optimize root development. That seminar was complemented by an aerification demonstration conducted by Steve Wilson of Bernhard & Co. in which he demonstrated venting tines and hollow tines and discussed with the seminar delegates the effective use of aerification equipment.

Matee Suntisawasdi from Pro-Crop T&O in Thailand gave presentations about optimizing weed control on golf courses at Indonesia, how to manage diseases on golf course turf, and how to optimize insect control. Brad Burgess from Sports Turf Solutions spoke about the necessary steps for sprayer calibration and then demonstrated the calibration process and its importance during a field seminar. Other presenters at this two day seminar included Peter Morison from Jacobsen with a discussion of maintenance equipment, Bob Moore from JMP Golf Design Group who spoke about golf course renovation, and Dr. Iswandi Anas from IPB who talked about soil analysis.


A few people told me they were surprised at the extensive questions that were asked as we went through the scheduled seminars and the formal discussion sessions. I wasn't surprised though, because we always get some great discussions and information sharing when we are able to bring together golf course superintendents and expert speakers for an educational program. Have a look at the slideshow below to see more photos from Turf Seminar XI at Indonesia.