Turf Care News
Our Superintendent was able to attend the BCGSA (British Columbia Golf Superintendents Association) Professional Development Days this past week in Victoria. Travis took part in a number of education seminars and networking events. Travis was excited to attend one seminar in particular, here’s what he had to say:
The most interesting seminar for me was one regarding sodium and bicarbonates in the soil. This is highly applicable to our course as our irrigation water (city effluent water) is high in both sodium and bicarbonates and has potential to cause problems for our turf. Although we do learn a great deal about soil science during our formal turf education, there is always new research being done and new products coming out to help us deal with issues on the course; this is why continuing education is so important in our field.
When managing high performance turf such as putting greens or fairways, it’s important to think of the turf in 3 dimensions. It’s easy to see what’s going on with the surface, but often these are just symptoms of an “underlying” issue underneath the surface. Think of the soil as the transmission and the grass plant as the engine. You could drive to Kelowna in second gear, sure you would get there, but it would be a lot harder on your engine and you’re going to spend a lot more on gas. It’s important that our soil is functioning properly and efficiently; if we have all of our gears working, the engine (plant) is going to preform much better and use a lot less fuel.
Sodium build up in the soil can become a problem as it causes soil compaction and reduces nutrient availability for the grass plant’s roots. Calcium plays a very important role in chemistry and structure, as calcium displaces sodium, helping to improve the growing conditions for the turf. Calcium also helps the plant regenerate itself after injury, much like a bone in our body. Calcium applications are important for the soil and the turf.
Bicarbonates can also build up in the soil and can become a major problem if levels become too high. Bicarbonates decrease calcium availability in the soil which in turn decreases nutrient availability to the plant. To correct bicarbonate issues, applications of acid are recommended. This is why after a heavy rain in the summer, the grass on the course looks that much greener. The rain water is much more acidic than our irrigation water, and helps to increase calcium availability in the soil.
We already use a number of products that help us deal with these two issues and will be adding a new product to our fertility program this year, it’s called “Lessen 11” and is an acidified calcium-based fertilizer with silica and biostimulant package. I am particularly excited about this addition as it is designed to deal directly with the sodium/bicarbonate problem and will help provide us with a healthier root zone, healthier grass plant, and an even better playing surface.