I recently had the opportunity to spend some time with one of our golf course customers in New Brunswick, Canada. His Donald Ross-designed course looked great and he relayed to me why…
This superintendent, like many others, had bought into all the chemical and fertilizer vendor hype to add more and more nutrients, herbicides, fungicides, wetting agents and other chemicals for years. In fact, he became a turf chemical “junkie” in his own words. Every conference, meeting, and visit from his suppliers took him further down the path of chemical dependency that ultimately became very expensive. His salt-based fertilizer costs alone each year were approaching $50,000 and when you add in the costs of licenses and permits for storing and applying these toxic chemicals the numbers were staggering.
A few years ago he started to see that the impacts of being a turf chemical “junkie” were not only financially impairing, but also the chemical soup he was applying to his course was having a negative impact on soil health. Fairy ring fungus was abundant in the fairways, greens were spotty and had molds and fungus, and some of the soil became hydrophobic and wouldn’t accept water. He decided to kick the habit and go “cold turkey” toward an organic approach.
He began seeking out organic fertilizer options and recognized organic products like ByoSoil 100 that could offer the benefits of humic acid technology, highly loaded native soil microbes, and a biostimulant to shift the biological system back to a more natural state. He began to apply this organic approach and made it a mission to wean himself off the “chemical turf drugs”. It has taken about 3 years to make the transition but now he’s reporting that he has discontinued fertilizer use on all turf and eliminated much of the herbicides, fungicides, and wetting agents he previously used. In fact, as his budget was cut and the Canadian government effort to reduce fungicide use and chemical nutrient runoff from golf courses was being implemented—he was ready!
Today this superintendent has one of the only 100% organic greens in Canada. It is about 2 years old and has never had a bit of chemical addition. I was recently there and noticed it was the best looking green on the entire 18 hole course! Newly built tees have also been switch to 100% organic and the density of turf is absolutely amazing. There is no fairy ring on the entire golf course!
A professor from the University of Georgia spoke at a conference this past February and specifically called out our customer telling him, (and the other golf superintendents present) “Organic doesn’t work. You need to use wetting agents and other chemicals to grow great turf”. Needless to say when challenged about this, the Professor had little to stand behind his words because HE had never actually grown an organic green and when you look at his research—guess who was funding it????
Hats off to our customer who is slowing turning the tide in the direction of natural approaches! It’s an uphill battle against the well-moneyed drug dealers and the Professors/”Experts” who take their money to fund their research.
We look forward to playing the course this summer and not having to “detox” when we finish.