December 2013

SportsTurf provides current, practical and technical content on issues relevant to sports turf managers, including facilities managers. Most readers are athletic field managers from the professional level through parks and recreation, universities.

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Page 19 of 47

FieldScience | By Gordon Kauffman III, PhD Best fertilizer management: a blueprint for success Editor's note: The author is a technical representative for Grigg Brothers. W HETHER YOU ARE MANAGING MUNICIPAL FIELDS or big league stadiums, the correct nutrient management programs will provide a blueprint for vigorous turf and prepare you—if you have not dealt with it already—if or when fertilizer use laws limit your resources. Nutrient management is one important cultural practice that forms the foundation for successful turf management; however the interpretation of soil test/water quality data, and selecting the appropriate source, timing, and rate of fertilizer is often overlooked. Many chapters in textbooks have been written on the topic of fertilizer source, selection and use so consider this short piece as a resource to help optimize your fertilizer programs and allow you to think "broad brush" about how you approach your role as a sports field manager. UNDERSTAND PLANT COMMUNITY First and foremost, a comprehensive understanding of the site will guide your fertilization approach. Clearly identify the turf(s) use, or function and its associated expectations. Consider safety improvements carefully. What grass(es) exist and what are their strengths, weaknesses, biology, and cultural requirements? What plants are unwanted? Soil physical and chemical properties and the time of year determine the source and frequency of fertilizer applications. For example, soil texture influences drainage, extent of compaction, firmness, all impor- tant factors for playability, but it also affects nutrient holding capacity and subsequently the potential effectiveness of fertilizer programs. EXISTING OR PENDING FERTILIZER LEGISLATION Get started now to determine how current or pending fertilizer use laws will affect your ability to manage turf in your state. New Jersey, New York, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Florida, Connecticut and Pennsylvania have or are cur- Figure 1: IN STATES where phosphorus (P) applications are banned, one exception is the ability to use P fertilizers on sites to establish turfgrass. 20 SportsTurf | December 2013

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