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January 2012

Research, Teaching, and Speaking in Tennessee

PanelI visited Tennessee this month, speaking at the packed Tennessee Turfgrass Association conference, meeting with faculty in the Plant Sciences Department at the University of Tennessee (of which I am an adjunct faculty member), learning about some of the turfgrass research projects now underway at the University, and teaching this semester's first session of the Turfgrass Rootzone Construction and Management course.

I participated in a panel discussion with Rodney Lingle (Memphis CC), Matt Shaffer (Merion Golf Club), and Chris Hartwiger (USGA Green Section) in which we discussed ultradwarf bermudagrass management, preparation for the 2013 US Open, cold tolerance of bermudagrass, and heat tolerance of creeping bentgrass. I gave three other presentations at the conference, on topics ranging from course preparations for the Open Championship, fertilizer for sand rootzones, and turfgrass management in Asia. The attendance at the conference was superb. In fact, for many of the presentations it was standing room only, and the trade show was bigger than I had expected too.

At the University of Tennessee I saw the now completed Center for Athletic Field Safety with some really great looking synthetic surfaces along with natural turf. This impressive facility is being used for some cutting-edge research about sporting surfaces, biomechanics, and athlete safety.

Ut-astroI saw a lot of other research as well -- zoysia trials, lots of weed control work, many with the new herbicide indaziflam, rooting experiments, seedhead control of zoysia -- suffice it to say that there is a lot of interesting information being developed by the turfgrass team at the University of Tennessee.

We also discussed turfgrass educational programs in Asia and weed control in India for upcoming sessions of the Indian Golf Union's Greenkeeper Education Programme.

At the end of my week in Tennessee, I taught the Plant Science 442 course, Turfgrass Rootzone Construction and Management. I talked about sand rootzones, why we do core aerification (coring, hollow-tine aerification), and what some of the challenges are in managing turf in sand rootzones. I spoke, basically, about these topics:

Chemical Fertilizer Programs for Sand Based Rootzones - the 1 minute version

N-adelaideLast week at the Tennessee Turfgrass Association conference I gave a 30 minute presentation with the title Chemical Fertilizer Programs for Sand Based Rootzones. But this topic doesn't always require 30 minutes to explain - I like to distill this topic into the most important principles. There is plenty of experimental and empirical evidence to show that these four principles, if followed, will give excellent results.

  1. Apply the right amount of nitrogen
  2. Ensure soil pH is more than 5.5 and less than 8.3
  3. Ensure soil potassium (as measured by the Mehlich 3 extractant) is kept above 35 ppm
  4. Ensure soil phosphorus (as measured by the Mehlich 3 extractant) is kept above 18 ppm

The End (of the 1 minute version of this topic)

If you are especially interested in mineral nutrition for turfgrass or soil nutrient analysis for sand rootzones, you may want to read or watch some of these more lengthy expositions.

Simple Fertilization: Use the Nutrients Already in the Soil, from the Hawaii GCSA newsletter

Minimum Levels for Sustainable Nutrition (MLSN) with PACE Turf

PACE Turf Potassium Sufficiency Video, on Youtube

Soil Testing: It Does Not Have to be Difficult, on Youtube

Creating an Excellent Playing Surface: Managing the Plant, especially section 2 regarding nitrogen application

Does Potassium Fertilizer Really Increase Roots?, from TurfNet Monthly

And for those who really want to reduce P and K, consider the implications of The Park Grass Experiment and the Fight Against Dogma, written with Dr. Frank Rossi and published in the USGA Green Section Record

Potassium for Turfgrass: interview with Dr. Larry Stowell of PACE Turf

Dr. Larry Stowell and I recorded this video interview about potassium fertilizer for turfgrass. How much potassium is enough? How should you decide how much potassium to apply to meet the plant requirements, without wasting money by applying too much? Is potassium fertilizer necessary at all? Watch this video to find out, and check out PACE Turf for a wealth of valuable turfgrass information.

Cynodon, Paspalum, and Zoysia at Putting Green Height

Golf course putting greens in Southeast Asia are usually planted to either hybrid bermudagrass (Cynodon dactylon x C. transvaalensis), seashore paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum), or zoysia (Z. matrella or Z. pacifica). I saw this test recently at a golf course in Southeast Asia. This is a putting green in an area with extensive cloud cover for much of the year. Can you identify the species being grown here? Which are bermuda, which are paspalum, and which are zoysia?


This green is being maintained at about 4 mm, the test plots have been established for more than three months, and there are obviously some differences in how the grasses perform at this mowing height. This test corresponds exactly with what I have observed on the performance of these grass species at low mowing heights across a broad swath of Asia.

World Cities Plotted by Climatological Normals, January


This chart shows a selction of world cities, plotted by average temperature, sunshine, and precipitation for the month of January. Bangkok, Chennai, Colombo, and Mumbai look like splendid places this month, at least for the growth of warm-season grasses. It will normally be warm, sunny, and dry in these cities, allowing turfgrass managers to control the growth with fertilizer and water applications, without concern for a lack of sunshine.