A number between 0 and 1: using the turfgrass growth potential
Growth potential (GP) and optimum temperatures

Superintendents discuss the Global Soil Survey

GSSThe first year anniversary of the Global Soil Survey is coming up, and I've been doing a lot of work to analyze the data that has been collected so far. We have received samples from a wide range of soil and grass types. It is interesting to see how the data from these diverse turfgrass growing environments are distributed, and to apply the same analytical procedures that were used to develop the MLSN guidelines to these new data.

Over the next few months, I'll be working with Larry and Wendy from PACE Turf on an annual report with the first year results of the Global Soil Survey (GSS), an update to the MLSN guidelines, a presentation on these results at the 2014 Crop Science Society of America annual meeting, and a technical article about the MLSN guidelines and the supporting GSS.

Empirical cumulative distribution function for soil test phosphorus data from the ATC, Global Soil Survey, PACE Turf, and combined data sets

The process to develop these guidelines can seem a bit complicated, and I was pleased to see a recent article in Golf Course Industry with a simple explanation of the GSS. In the article, Larry Stowell was quoted with a great explanation of this project:

It’s really a common sense approach. We are just trying to develop some tools to make it easier for turfgrass managers to make the applications at the right rates they need to make.

This project is possible because of the many turfgrass managers, golf course superintendents, and golf clubs that have participated in this project by purchasing a kit and submitting data from soils that support good performing turf at their location. I was pleased to see that the article gave a chance for two superintendents who have participated in the survey to speak about this important topic. Here are a few quotes.

Matt Crowther, CGCS from Mink Meadows Golf Club, on fertilizer and one of the reasons he participated in the GSS:

If you’re not being regulated on [nutrients] right now, then you will be soon. It’s sweeping the country. I don’t see how there will be one section that gets away from it. To me, it only seems logical to show an interest in that and try to get ahead of the curve.

Akoni Ganir, from Tokatee Golf Club, on his participation in GSS and philosophy of product application in general:

It’s a very logical approach and aligns with the way I think. I feel like I’m not applying anything to the grass that’s unnecessary. I feel as a turf manager there is a purpose to all of my applications. I’m not putting ‘X’ or ‘Y’ product out there because someone said, ‘Try this because this is great.’ I know why I am putting everything down and for what reason.

This is an ongoing project, and the data collected will benefit everyone in the industry by identifying the nutrient levels that are required for good turf performance. The more sites we collect data from, the more useful the guidelines will be. If you would like to participate, and ensure that data from your growing environment is included in this exciting citizen science project, you can get your survey kit here.

I've had a chance to visit some of the courses that have joined this project, including beautiful Tama Hills GC in Japan (picture of the unique two green system, below). It is really cool to be able to make use of the data that are stored in the soils of every golf course or other turfgrass soil, to combine those data, summarize them, and from those data at actual sites with good-performing turf, to be able to generate guidelines and fertilizer recommendations that can be used by the entire industry. This is really an exciting project, many thanks are due to everyone who has participated so far, and I hope you will join this project so that data from your site can be represented as well.

Manilagrass and creeping bentgrass at Tama Hills GC near Tokyo


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