August 29, 2013

What Goes In The Sprayer

I field this question from golfers relatively often throughout the summer, about what goes in the spray tank.  With all the disease pressure that we have been dealing with on the golf course this week, I figured that now would be a good time for a blog post about it.

There are four main groups of products that we spray on the turf:  liquid fertilizers, pesticides, growth regulators, and wetting agents.

Without a doubt, the number one used product that goes in our sprayer are growth regulators.  The sprayer almost never leaves the shop without some sort of growth regulator in it.  We utilize three different types of regulators, all of which in some sort of way affect growth hormones that are produced within the turfgrass plant.  One regulator we use is specifically for controlling leaf growth, which in turn focuses more of the plant's energy into growing laterally and producing roots.  Another regulator we utilize strictly for inhibiting seedhead production of the Poa Annua on the greens.  And the last regulator is used to both control growth as well as to help give bentgrass a competitive advantage over the Poa Annua in the turf stand.

Fertilizers are also a very standard addition to our sprayer mixes.  Applying small, controlled amounts of foliar fertilizers helps to feed the plant the nutrients that it needs to stay healthy, without producing excessive flushes of growth which is common when applying granular fertilizers.  Common nutrients that are sprayed foliarly are Nitrogen, Potassium, Calcium, and Iron.

Wetting agents are sprayed mainly on the greens and tees to help us more effectively utilize water.  As thatch starts to accumulate in the rootzone, the soil and sand particles start to accumlate waxy coatings that cause them to become hydrophobic (literally, afraid of water)  Wetting agents help to break the bonds of these coatings allowing water to not only better penetrate into the soil, but to also be held better in the soil and thus more available to plant roots.

The last group of products we spray on the golf course are pesticides, which encompasses fungicides, herbicides, and insecticides.  Within these groups are literally thousands of different chemistries, of which we only keep about 30 different kinds on hand.  These products are always used very judiciously on the golf course.  There are very specific thresholds and circumstances that require the use of all of these, it is only sound economic and environmental stewardship to use these if and when they are needed.

All of these products are very benign to humans and animals when used properly.  Nevertheless, there is still the potential for runoff or leaching of any product that is applied on the course, so we are always mindful of the weather conditions before, during, and after a spray application.

Andy mixing up a tank of growth regulator, fungicide, and liquid Iron.

A rare glimpse into the chemical storage room.  All of these products are kept
in a locked room separate from the main shop area.  On these shelves lie the
secrets of great and healthy turf....

No comments:

Post a Comment