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Global Soil Survey results challenge conventional guidelines

By |  April 22, 2014

soil_survey_webThe Global Soil Survey, launched in 2013, demonstrated that turf quality and playability can be maintained at much lower nutrient levels than were previously thought possible. Using new, more sustainable soil guidelines developed by researchers at PACE Turf and the Asian Turfgrass Center, participants in the 2013 survey report they had good results following the new guidelines with many able to cut their rates of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus by over 50 percent with no negative impact. Survey researchers are now seeking additional turf managers who want to learn how to implement the new guidelines at their locations.

“Our findings challenge the soil nutritional guidelines that most of us have been using for years,” says survey researcher Dr. Larry Stowell of PACE Turf. “While these older guidelines all produced good quality turf, they frequently resulted in unnecessary applications of fertilizer. Today, when everyone is concerned about budgets and environmental impact, anything we can do to reduce inputs is going to be incredibly beneficial.”

The Global Soil Survey invites turf managers to participate by submitting three soil samples for analysis. Each participant will receive a kit that contains all of the materials needed to package and ship the soil samples taken from good performing areas of their facility. The samples are analyzed by Brookside Laboratories and the data interpreted by Dr. Micah Woods of the Asian Turfgrass Center and Dr. Stowell.

“The Global Soil Survey is an exciting citizen science project that helps each participant determine just the right amount of each nutrient for their turf, at their location,” Dr. Woods says. “When turf is fed with just the amount it needs, we see that fertilizer rates usually go down quite significantly.”

Participants in the Global Soil Survey also will receive a report that shows their soil nutrient levels, predicts how much of each nutrient is required as fertilizer, and shows where each nutrient is on a sustainability index. The data from each participant also will be added to a large database of over 17,000 soil samples to refine and validate new, more precise soil guidelines. “Minimum Levels for Sustainable Nutrition” guidelines and methods for implementing them will be updated on its website periodically as the Global Soil Survey progresses and will be accessible, free of charge, to the public.

“We’ve had turf managers from all around the world participate in the Survey,” says PACE Turf’s Dr. Wendy Gelernter. “The large amount of data that we’ve accumulated gives us confidence that our guidelines will benefit turf that is grown in a very wide spectrum of situations.”

For more information on the Global Soil Survey for Sustainable Turf or to order the $250 Global Survey kit, visit the Global Soil Survey webpage or the Global Soil Survey Facebook page.

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