At the recent Southern California Turf Expo, Dr. James Beard, the author of the turf bible Turfgrass: Science and Culture, made a presentation about the future trends in turfgrass management.
During my short speech at Arrowcreek, I also highlighted several things I thought would be future issues. Ironically, there were several ideas that overlapped with Dr. Beard's points.
1. The highest priority to turf managers in the future is lack of water. More emphasis will be placed on knowing exactly how much water the turf needs on a daily basis. Evapotranspiration models and atmospheric measurement devices will become more sophisticated and probably mandatory in the near future. Improving irrigation designs, techniques and distribution is imperative when local water officials start looking around for wasted water or faulty systems. An interesting point Dr. Beard made was that local water officials rarely discuss the amount of leakage their systems encounter on a yearly basis. He claims these entities are frequently the biggest wasters of water, yet nobody checks their efficiency records.
2. Energy conservation. Everybody is upset with the high cost of gasoline, yet rarely do consumers consider the rising costs associated with petroleum by-products (i.e. plastic containers and petroleum based consumer goods). Superintendents definitely know about petroleum by-products such as motor oil, solvents, lubricants as well as a variety of irrigation parts. The costs of producing those products will be rising and a person can bet the farm the maintenance budget will reflect these rising prices.
Other ways to conserve energy inputs on the golf course will be to reduce mowing frequency, use equipment that is fossil fuel-less and developing turfgrass species that require less inputs than current industry standards (water, fertilizer, and pesticides). Research is now being conducted on different turfgrasses to use in intensively managed turf areas. Plant collectors have scoured the world trying to find plant material that will stand up to less-than-perfect growing conditions. Some of the species currently being evaluated are: Seashore paspalum, Supina bluegrass, Idaho bentgrass, Kikuyu, Serangoongrass, Tropical carpetgrass and tufted hairgrass.
3. Environmental regulations. There will come a time when the application of fertilizers, pesticides or other plant health products will have to comply with a nutrient or pesticide management plan. These plans will be based on up-to-the minute soil test results, on-the-spot disease diagnosis or plant nutrition sensor readings. The timing and placement of these nutrients/pesticides will become an exact science. Precise applications will help to prevent nutrient runoff and reduce useless environmental exposures. This will also lead to better advances in sprayer/spreader calibrations and multi-functional, sensor-based spray equipment. Another thing: Don't be surprised when record keeping is required prior to fertilizer applications.
Equipment will also come under more environmental scrutiny. Current political battles, like the leaf blower ban, will continue to generate plenty of interest from industry and environmental focus groups. Emission and noise abatement issues will probably start to focus in on landscape equipment. Undoubtedly, golf course equipment will be included in this greener and cleaner campaign. The use of quieter and more efficient machinery is looming large on the horizon.
Finally, these issues and many others should be on the mind of golf course superintendents. If our industry does not have solutions or start working on solutions to these problems, the politicians and die-hard environmentalists will. I seriously doubt the green industry will like the outcome when others start dictating future policies.
Failing to plan for the future is planning to fail in the future. This train of thought has never been more appropriate as we look to a new century of turf.
Some interesting facts can be seen about Turfgrass management on the following link:-