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The Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation (RUSLE2) is a software program designed to help farmers estimate the potential for soil erosion under different land management and cropping practices. The software overcomes many of the limitations of the previous USLE equation.

The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA) has adapted the RUSLE2 for Ontario farmers by incorporating climate, soil and management practices common to the province.

Five interactive tutorials have been created to help you use RUSLE2 for Ontario. The easy-to-follow audio/visual guides give step-by-step instructions on using RUSLE2 to help you assess the cropping and tillage practices you use on your farm.

Find out how you can prevent soil erosion from your fields! Visit the OMAFRA website to watch the tutorials and to download RUSLE2.

Do you have questions about RUSLE2? Contact the Agricultural Information Contact Centre at 1-877-424-1300 or ag.info.omafra@ontario.ca.

For more information visit: ontario.ca/ce4i

University of Guelph Upcoming Courses and Programs in Turf Management

The 47th Annual Turf Managers’ Short Course
“Excellent presentation from an expert (if not the expert) in his field. Can’t beat that!”

Gain practical and applied knowledge, and integrate your skills to manage turf well. Use cultural, physical, biological and chemical turf management practices to develop strategies to manage recreational, golf and residential turfgrass stands.

Don’t miss this four-week course which looks at all aspects of turf and the best management practices to grow it well. Join your fellow turf professionals and learn from University of Guelph faculty and industry professionals.

Course Dates: February 1 to 26, 2016
Website: Turf Managers’ Short Course – http://www.TurfManagers.ca
Download the Brochure (pdf)
Email: info@OpenEd.uoguelph.ca
Phone: 519-767-5000

Maintaining Golf Courses Certificate
“The instructor was very helpful with his quick answers to our questions, prompting very interesting discussions, supplying useful websites for our work”

Study turf online from the comfort of your home or office.

Whether for interest, professional development or to work towards are certificate, each 12 week course provides a thorough discussion of turf in relation to the golf course environment. Courses offered this fall include:

  • Turf Management
  • Gold Course Design & Construction

Courses start: September 14, 2015
Website: Horticulture Certificates – http://www.GuelphHort.com
Email: info@OpenEd.uoguelph.ca
Phone: 519-767-5000

Associate Diploma in Turfgrass Management
“This program is highly regarded and students have the opportunity to have paid internships at high-profile golf clubs and sports fields across Canada and around the world.”

Canada’s premier turfgrass diploma offered at the main University of Guelph campus blends forty-eight weeks of instruction from leading turfgrass research scientists and experienced industry professionals with a fifteen week industry internship.

Registration Deadline: January 15, 2016
Website: Associate Diploma in Turfgrass Management
Email: Rob Witherspoon
Phone: 519-824-4120 ext.56886

Ontario Turfgrass Symposium

Mark your calendars for the 2016 Ontario Turfgrass Symposium “Time to Grow’ – February 17 and 18, 2016

Symposium Dates: February 17 and 18, 2016
Website: Ontario Turfgrass Symposiumhttp://www.turfsymposium.ca

Questions?

Re-posted from University of Guelph’s Centre for Open Learning and Educational Support

Protection Guide for Turfgrass publication cover photo

Protection Guide for Turfgrass

Integrated Pest Management for Turf

Integrated Pest Management for Turf

 

An updated version of the Protection Guide for Turfgrass, is now available on the OMAFRA website.  This publication lists crop protection products registered for turfgrass as of December 1, 2014. A big part of managing turf is knowing which crop protection products to use. This publication is a great resource for sod farmers, golf course superintendents, lawn care operators and sports field managers.  This publication, along with Integrated Pest Management for Turf, provides a complete reference package on turf IPM for Ontario.

 

 

 

 

Submitted by: Rob Witherspoon, Director, Guelph Turfgrass Institute, robwith@uoguelph.ca

green rolling

Rolling does more than just increase green speed.

A few years ago, I was reviewing the task-scheduling program of a golf course in western Canada and came across a spring task called flintstone greens. Curiosity got the better of me and I contacted course staff to find out just what flintstoning was. It turns out that they had inherited a heavy asphalt roller from a contractor who had done work on their cart paths and found that it was ideal for smoothing out their greens after a hard Alberta winter. (Note: For those of you who didn’t wile away their youth watching Flintstones cartoons, or have wisely avoided seeing the John Goodman movie, here is a video illustrating the source of this reference https://youtu.be/2s13X66BFd8).

The practice of rolling has come and gone and come again in turf management. For many years aggressive rolling of turf areas was generally discouraged other than after seeding to firm up the seedbed or after sodding to improve sod to soil contact. In recent years, rolling has become a much more common practice on turf surfaces and specialized machines and machinery attachments have been designed for green, fairway and sports field rolling. Lawn rolling remains a lucrative spring service in the lawn care industry. Sod growers often roll in advance of harvest to increase the yield and quality of harvested sod. Let’s take a look at some points related to the role of rolling in turf management beyond seeding and sodding.

Smooth out heaving from the freeze/thaw cycle. This is the main reason we see rollers moving around residential neighbourhoods in the spring but it also applies to greens, tees, fairways and sports fields. On low-mown turf soring rolling can reduce mower scalping and improve ball roll early in the season.

Reduce localized dry spot and improve soil moisture retention. Rolling reduces the incidence of localized dry spot, increases soil moisture retention and turf root mass.

Disease Reduction. Dollar spot begins to appear around the same time as lilacs are in early to full bloom and iris are in early bloom. Both research and practical experience have shown that regular rolling results in a reduction in dollar spot severity and an extended period of protection from fungicide applications. Rolling is generally considered a superior method of dew removal and may contribute to reducing other diseases through reduced leaf wetness.

Lower the apparent height of cut without lowering the actual height of cut. On greens and fairways, turf managers claim that rolling allows them to provide faster greens and tighter lies at a higher height of cut than would be possible without rolling. Green speed measurements support this claim. Higher mowing height generally equates with healthier turf. Golf course superintendents may roll as a periodic substitute for a mow or add rolling to increase green speed especially for special events. There is also the practice of target rolling in the vicinity of the hole that increases golfer perception of green speed without rolling the entire putting surface.

Thatch reduction. When combined with sand topdressing, regular rolling is thought to reduce thatch accumulation by the grinding action of the sand particles on the thatch. The improved surface moisture retention may also facilitate the activity of thatch degrading microorganisms.

Smoothing greens and helping core holes close after aerification. Many superintendents routinely roll their greens after aerification to smooth the surface and speed up aeration hole closure. To the casual observer, rolling after aerating would seem counterintuitive as one of the reasons for aerating is to alleviate compaction and regular rolling would likely increase compaction. Recent research by Dr. Thomas Nikolai at Michigan State University indicates that rolling five times per week both improved green speed (2 feet faster after two weeks) and helped the aeration holes close faster. Soil cores taken at the end of the study showed no difference in soil compaction on the rolled versus unrolled plots.

Sustainability. As indicated above, a well-planned rolling program can be part of a money saving, pesticide reducing, sustainable turf management program by allowing higher and less frequent mowing, improving the conditions for growth and reducing disease pressure.

Rolling is not without risks. Avoid rolling during wet conditions especially on fine textured soils. Water acts as a lubricant for soil particles and rolling when the soil is wet can result in serious compaction issues. Routine rolling can also cause wear damage to turf particularly on the edge of greens with tight turning areas. Rolling should be avoided during times when the turf is under stress.

Do you flintstone your turf? What role does rolling play in your management program? Leave a reply/comment and let us know.

Further reading on rolling:

Binder, Nick. 2014. Rolling with the cool kids. Sports Turf Manager. Summer. 27(2): 1, 4-5. 30-37.

Nikolai, Thomas A. 2015. Weighing in on rolling after aerification. Golf Course Management. March. 83(3): p. 82.

Shaffer, Matthew G. 2014. Fairway management at Merion Golf Club. 2014 GCSAA Education Conference: Conference Session Presentations. p. [1-74].

Its Not Too Late To Get Back to School!!!
Summer 2015 online horticulture, landscape and turf programs begin today and we still have space in a variety of these courses.
Its not too late to join us!!!
• If you register today you will be able to access your course within 24 hours
• Any required course material will be sent to you by courier the same day that you register.
• Your course can be accessed 24 hours a day… seven days a week

You still have time to get organized and participate in the summer 2015 semester. Register until Friday, May 15, 2015.

Visit www.Guelphhort.com for more information and to register now!

Tools of the Trade

Submitted by: Rob Witherspoon, Director, Guelph Turfgrass Institute, robwith@uoguelph.ca

Turf management has come a long way from the days when a manager would stick a spade in the ground and turn up the sod to examine turf and soil conditions. While fundamental observation skills, experience and intuition are still essential components of the profession, modern day turf managers have a much greater array of tools to monitor turf systems and inform critical management decisions. Let’s take a look at three examples of instruments that may merit a place in your decision-making toolbox.

Measuring Soil Moisture

 Not that many years ago, electronic devices used to measure soil moisture rarely were seen outside of turfgrass research plots. Over the past decade, hand held TDR probes have become almost essential tools for the management of high intensity use turf areas like sports fields and putting greens. They provide soil moisture information that can be used to make irrigation decisions and audit irrigation system performance quickly and accurately. TDR stands for time domain reflectometry and works from the basic premise that the more moisture there is in a soil, the faster an electrical impulse will move through it. When selecting and using a TDR probe to manage soil moisture, it is critical to have probe lengths that measure moisture within the depth of soil containing the majority of turf roots. It is also important to realize that the measurement is only made in the vicinity of the probes – a systematic approach with multiple measurements is needed to gain an overall picture of the moisture conditions on an expanse of turf. Here is a video from TPC Sawgrass Agronomy that describes how they use their TDR probe to manage soil moisture on greens for the PGA Tour’s Players Championship.

 

TDR probe on turg

Fieldscout TDR probe for measuring soil moisture content.

 

Determining Infiltration Rates

 

Double ring infiltrometers are the standard tool used to measure the rate at which water enters (infiltrates) a surface like a putting green or sports field. Knowing the infiltration rate allows you to schedule irrigation more effectively to insure applied water enters the soil and does not run off to adjacent areas. It also helps you assess the impact of various cultural practices like shallow and deep tine aerating, or the application of wetting agents, on the movement of water into turf areas and through the soil profile. Double ring infiltrometers work by having two open ended cylinders that are pressed into the soil. The smaller inner cylinder contains a float with a measuring rod attached. The outer cylinder helps eliminate error from water moving laterally in the soil during the test. Water is added to both cylinders, a float and timer are used to measure the infiltration rate (cm/hour). While a number of double ring infiltrometers are available commercially, if you are handy you could easily rig up a basic infiltrometer using a couple of different sized cans, a ruler and the stopwatch on your smartphone. Here is an example of a basic double ring infiltrometer courtesy of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

 

Measuring Surface Hardness

 

A variety of instruments are available for testing surface hardness of which the most well known is the Clegg Hammer. This instrument measures the deceleration of a free falling weight as it hits a surface that is a measure of the ability of the surface to absorb energy from falls or balls. Surface hardness is particularly important on sports field surfaces. The greater the ability of the surface to absorb shock energy, the less of the shock energy will be absorbed by a falling athlete’s body. Monitoring surface hardness allows turf managers to make decisions regarding practices on natural fields that alleviate hardness, most notably core aeration. The device is also useful for measuring changes in the surface hardness of synthetic fields over time. Surface hardness is also a factor in the playability of many other sports turf surfaces including golf greens, cricket pitches and tennis courts. Here is a link to a short video showing a Clegg Hammer in use.

 

New Turf Tools?

 

The following two devices are examples of the expanding array of high tech instruments that may have a future role in the turf managers toolbox.

The Sphero Turf Research App that claims to be able to use a smartphone controlled ball to simultaneously measure a variety of turf surface characteristics.

 

Aerial drones have been in the news recently for a variety of reasons from package delivery to privacy issues. Drones have also been used to create flyover videos for golf course websites. Greensight Agronomics adds an imager and software processor that provides whole property management insights through daily flyovers of the entire course.

Do you see yourself maneuvering a remote controlled ball around your greens or flying your property with drone-mounted sensors in the future? Do you have a favourite turf tool that has not been mentioned? Let us know in the comments below.

 

 

 

Submitted by: Rob Witherspoon, Director, Guelph Turfgrass Institute, robwith@uoguelph.ca

Observations from the field this spring indicate much better winter survival of turf in southern Ontario as compared to the devastation of spring, 2014. There are some reports of damage in north, central and eastern regions of province. Many golf courses are open or opening soon across the south although the short range forecast is more winter-like than spring.

It happens every year in the spring – sometimes earlier, sometimes later. Snow melts, or comes and goes as it seems to be this spring, and everyone is anxious to get out the house and on the turf… your turf. Pro shop phones are ringing with calls from golfers anxious to play. Sports field user groups are calling to ask when they can start scheduling practices or often just heading out and playing on the first sunny day of spring. Due to the demand for early spring access, some turf must die.

Golf

Most private club members have a long-standing culture of respecting the course and its turf. Often accommodations are made to provide some form of play on the range or practice areas during early spring like days which relieves some of the early course opening pressure. Public courses are in the business of making money and financial pressures trump agronomic concerns. Early spring play brings a dormant cash flow to life and can make or break a season. But what to do about protecting the turf that may be frosty most mornings, mostly dormant, often saturated and susceptible to death and destruction from enthusiastic early season play.

Communication is more critical than cultivation at this time of year. It is a great opportunity to raise your profile and influence around the clubhouse. Tension between the pro shop and maintenance staff is an issue at many courses. Spring is an opportunity to reconnect with returning or new clubhouse staff. Share with them what is happening out on the course, identify areas of concern and give them the information they need to effectively communicate with members and daily fee players. While you may not be the most popular person around the clubhouse during morning frost delays, introduce yourself and welcome golfers to your course while at the same time explaining why they shouldn’t be out on frosty turf.

There is an ever-growing community of transient golfers who may visit only when your course is the green fee deal of the day on GolfNow or other online green fee discounting site. These players may not always have the respect for the course of your regular clientele. Cart path only may become cart path only in view of the clubhouse. A combination of effective communication and on-course policing may be needed to protect your turf from damage.

Starters and course marshals/player assistants are an often overlooked communication conduit for superintendents. Typically volunteers paid in golf, they are the staff interacting most frequently and personally with your golfing clients. Consider hosting an early season barbeque for them at your maintenance facility where they can get to know you and your staff and learn more about the challenges of maintaining a playable golf course. Take them for a ride along pointing out the damage caused by carts, areas sensitive to traffic and maybe even provide a lesson in ball mark repair. Handing out a few found Pro V1’s on occasion through the season will help to maintain your connection and their appreciation of the challenges you face and how they can help.

golf green with flag

On many public courses the pins are in and golfers are out before the grass has started growing or the ice is off the ponds.

Sports Fields

Restricting access to school or municipal sports fields is really only possible where fields can be fenced and locked. Even then, young athletes will often view climbing the fence as a good pre-game warm up. While most of us are advocates of natural turf surfaces, early spring is certainly a time when synthetic fields can take some pressure off frozen or saturated natural turf fields. If no or limited synthetic fields are available, consider directing them to temporary practice areas that may not usually be used as sports fields. Many European cities have off-season practice fields made of compacted stone dust that are low maintenance and usable in almost any weather condition. They have the added benefit of discouraging aggressive tackling.

As in the golf business, communication with your client group is essential. Attend sports group organizational meetings to communicate with coaches and league officials about field restrictions not only in spring but throughout the coming season. Take advantage of the opportunity to educate coaches about other issues such as moving repetitive drills around on the field to more evenly distribute wear. Be prepared to listen and respond to their concerns about field conditions.

Whether you are a golf course superintendent or sports turf manager, proactive communication can help to alleviate some spring turf damage but not all. We should be thankful that others value the properties we maintain. Be prepared to redirect traffic and/or plan for early season repair work to get the turf back in shape for the main part of the season. Accept that in spite of your best efforts, sometimes, some turf must die.

If you have any interesting information to share from your experiences so far this spring or a suggestion for a future ONTurf blog posting, please let me know by email (robwith@uoguelph.ca) or phone (519-824-4120 ext 56886).