Tuesday, March 19, 2013

It all starts and ends with Best Management Practices

Like most turf maintenance facilities, our golf operations are fueled by our staffs' reliability to follow policy and procedures.  Regardless of what you may call these policies and procedures they all revolve around Best Management Practices (BMP's).  BMP's are used in many different industries to describe the thoughtful use of resources, materials, and practices that help to protect our natural environment.  In our service yard alone you can see these practices nearly everywhere you look.  double walled fuel vaults to prevent spills; filtered wash pad to reduce/eliminate water contamination; separate chemical storage facilities with proper signage and containment; and even our weather station and irrigation methods are considered methods are considered BMP's.

The EPA is getting serious about Storm Water Management Plans here in California and they are stating their regulatory processes with State and Local governments which is requiring us to look at how we use and where our water moves throughout our properties.  The ultimate goal is to protect groundwater from pollution and sedimentation.  Many, like myself, believe that much of these efforts are overboard and over-reaching, but none the less important to think and to be concerned about.

One of our BMP's I am speaking about in this post is the use of Polyon fertilizers.  These products are great for protecting our water resources as well as our budgets.  We apply 7.2 pounds of fertilizer (41-0-0) per 1000 square feet to our fairways in March each year at Dairy Creek GC.  This fertilizer carries us through to late October and possibly even November.  The application reduces the number of fertilizer throughout the year, which in turn saves fuel, labor, and water costs.  Another huge benefit involves the reduced risk of water contamination.  Each Polyon particle is coated in a polymer cover that works like an osmotic material that releases the fertilizer slowly over time until it is all gone.  This process is not dependent upon water solubility like most conventional fertilizers, but rather is dependent upon temperature.  We could even put this material out in December and likely receive the benefits through October as the fertilizer would not release until soil temperatures reached ~50 degrees farenheit.  Since the product is not mobile in water and the particles stay put in the turf there is little chance for polluting our water ways or ground water as there is no run off or leaching that occurs with this product.  It is the double wammy...cost and liability savings!

We have used mini prills in the past and last year we used a medium grade to save money.  Mini prills provide better coverage and thus carry a premium price.  To combat the larger particle size we raised our mowing heights from 1/2 to 5/8 inches and did not mow for nearly 5 days after application.  The worry was that the prills would get cut open with our fairway reels and the fertilizer would then become a quick release product triggered by water since the polymer coating would be cut open.  The practice worked perfectly and we did not see a flush of growth and we held our green color through to Thanksgiving.

I played a little golf over the weekend following the Thursday fertilizer application and I snapped a few photos on the 14th fairway to illustrate the fertilizer.

You can see the green fertilizer prills in these two photos.  This is two days after application and they are working their way down into the canopy safe from mower reels where they can feed our turf for the next 7-8 months

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