3 Pests and Diseases

It is during this time of the year we start to see an increase in weeds, as the sudden warm temperatures and moist soil conditions stimulate growth and flowering. Dandelions and daisies are very prominent now with many local authority pitches covered in white and yellow flowers.

This article will look at the different types of pests and diseases that affect natural turf surfaces and how they can be controlled through various practices, in particular using Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategies.

What are Pest and diseases? Well, in the main, they can be any symptoms or physical properties whose presence will affect or influence normal turf growth, discolour or kill turf and affect surface playability. A pest is defined as an organism that occurs where it is not wanted (weeds, mosses and algaes) or an organism that has a detrimental effect on turf (fungi, insects, mammals and birds). Pest and diseases are generally broken down into different categories.





There are many types of animals, mainly birds and mammals, that through normal behaviour (feeding and marking territories) often pose problems when able to access turf facilities These will be in the main, rabbits, moles, foxes, badgers, deer, rooks, starlings and crows that come and feed on insects, grubs and worms found in the turf. During it's life cycle there are times when an insect is most active, most often during the larvae stage when it feeds on soft vegetation and root tissues, often resulting in the grass becoming stunted and in some cases dying. By definition a weed is a plant that is growing in the wrong place. Weeds take valuable space, water, sunlight and nutrients that may otherwise be accessible to important crops, in our case turf grasses. Weeds not only compete for these resources, they can disfigure and cause problems to playing surfaces.

Diseases of turf grasses result from infection by living organisms such as a fungus, bacteria, virus or nematode. A susceptible plant, favourable environment and a plant disease causal agent must be present over a period of time for a disease to occur. Most biotic or infectious diseases of turfgrass are caused by some kind of a fungus pathogen. Some diseases are turfgrass specific whereas others may attack multiple turfgrass types. There are very few important virus diseases of turf. Nematodes are often a problem on golf courses or other situations where turf is grown in sandy soil conditions. Other diseases can result from a stress imposed by non-living agents such as mechanical or chemical damage and adverse environmental conditions





All of the common fungi pathogens survive in soil and mainly feed on dead plant matter but can, if the ideal conditions prevail, attack turf grass species. However, not all fungi are harmful, some are very beneficial in the breaking down of organic matter, with some able to stimulate plant growth as found with some strains of mycorrhizal forming fungi. Bacteria, like fungi pathogens, are able to survive and remain in soils for years and can be beneficial and harmful to plants, again being dependent on the right conditions prevailing. Viruses are pathogens with an extremely narrow host range. Virus diseases of plants are relatively rare. Infection is scarcely strong enough to kill the plant. Plant viruses have no specific mechanism for entering the host cell. Cell wall and cuticle are difficult obstacles for them. Plant viruses depend, therefore, on injuries or on transmission via invertebrates (insects, nematodes, etc.).

These mammals vary in size and numbers (cattle, deer, sheep, foxes, badgers, rabbits moles). A large population of rabbits for example can cause severe damage to newly sown and renovated turf areas. The presence of animals on sports facilities often results in damage to the playing surfaces, with the majority of damage from foot traffic, burrowing and digging actions coupled with some grass areas being killed by animal urine. There are several methods available to control and reduce animal damage.

  • Prevent animals from accessing the site (if feasible) by the use of fencing, screening and landscape planting.
  • Ensure all existing fencing and gates are shut and secured.
  • Catching and trapping.
  • Controlled culling by poisons, traps and shooting.
  • Reducing their food supplies.
  • Employing and maintaining an IPM Strategy

Insect pests of turf are fortunately few. However, these few can cause substantial damage. The three main pests that affect turf are crane flies, chafer beetles and frit flies.

Crane fly (Tipula spp) also known as daddy long legs are a major lawn/turf pest. When the fly is in its pupae state (leatherjacket) it feeds on the roots of turf grasses. The damage to turf is seen as patches of dead and dying grass usually in the autumn this damage is often enhanced further when birds (rooks and starlings) begin feeding on the grubs. The life cycle (egg, larvae, pupae and adult) begins in the autumn when the adult crane flies emerge and begin laying new eggs into the turf, the eggs hatch out after a few weeks with the larvae starting to feed in the winter. However, the most damage occurs in the spring when these pupae are 4cm long and able to consume larges amounts of root tissue.

Phyllopertha horticola are very similar to crane flies. When the beetles are in their larvae stage (chafer grubs) they feed on turfgrass roots and stems. The life cycle begins in late May early June when the adult beetle emerges; females lay eggs in the ground which hatch out after 5 weeks. The larvae then spend the rest of the summer feeding on roots and stems until late autumn when it then goes into hibernation for the winter, after which it emerges the following May. The damage to turf is seen as dead and dying grass usually in the autumn coupled with birds feeding on the grubs which again damages the surface.

Meromyza and Oscinella spp. Life cycle begins when the adult flies lay their eggs on young grass shoots with the emerging maggots burrowing into these shoots, eating the fresh new growth, resulting in the grass plants withering and dying. These maggots then pupate and hatch out into adult flies. This process is repeated and in any one year you can have up to three generations of frit fly feeding on your grass plants. The number of frit fly larvae frequently exceeds 3 million per hectare each autumn. The symptoms of the flies feeding results in the thinning of the sward.

There are twenty-five species of earthworms in the UK, however we only have three species largely responsible for worm casting. Worm casts are a mixture of earth and organic matter. Apart from being unsightly, worm casts can cause a lot of problems, particularly on fine turf situations (golf and bowling greens) where the casts affect surface playability, reduce water infiltration and provide ideal conditions for weed seed germination.

Worm activity is more pronounced in the following conditions:- soil pH 6.5-7.5, light sandy, loam soils, a regular supply of grass clippings and warm soil temperatures.

Controlling worm infestations is dependant on a number of factors:

  • Recognising the problem.
  • Understanding the life cycle and the conditions these pests favour.
  • Changing the environment.
  • Correct cultural practices.
  • Choosing the correct chemical product and applying at the right time.
  • Timing of preventative activities (chemical and cultural methods).
  • Employing and maintaining an IPM strategy.

Weeds are very good competitors and take advantage of any opportunities to colonise turf situations, particularly when the sward is under stress and weak, leaving bare soil areas for weeds to populate. Weeds have many mechanisms and characteristics that enable them to do this, thick waxy cuticle leaves that can be resistant to some chemicals, fast reproduction methods, the ability to reseed in 6 week cycles and deep tap roots enabling the weed to survive in compacted dry ground conditions.

Weeds have one of three life cycles: annual; biennial or perennial.

  • Annual weeds: Live for a single season. These weeds germinate from seed in the spring or summer, flower and then die.
  • Biennial weeds: Live for two seasons. During the first growing season, these weeds remain in a vegetative stage and, in the following year, produce flowers, set seed and die.
  • Perennial weeds: Live for multiple seasons and flower more than once. Perennial structures (rhizomes, stolons, crowns, entire plants or roots) survive from year to year.

Some weeds may be harmful to the environment or noxious to your regional ecology. For example Japanese knotweed (Fallopia Japonicais) is fast becoming a major weed problem on road side verges and urban landscape areas, a very difficult weed to eradicate. Its is very important to recognise weeds and seek effective controls methods to eradicate them from our facilities.
Weeds can also be used as an indicator of soil conditions. For example, knotweed and plantains both indicate soil compaction because they can maintain adequate root respiration at lower oxygen diffusion levels than other plants. Different weeds tolerate different soil conditions, some are alkaline loving and others acid loving. Getting to understand and recognise the physiology of these plants will help you become better turfgrass managers.

Below are some of the most persistent common weeds found in turf grass situations:

Buttercups Daisies Dandelions
Yarrow Plantains Clover

Successful weed control is again dependant on a number of factors:

  • Recognising the weed species.
  • Understanding the life cycle and soil conditions favoured by the weed.
  • Changing the environment.
  • Choice of control, choosing the right product and method of application (cultural or chemically).
  • Timing of control methods.
  • Carrying out cultural practices to establish dense swards.
  • Choice of materials, rootzones and top dressings. Using quality resourced or sterilised dressings will prevent possible weed invasion. Similarly buying and using uncertified grass seed mixtures may introduce unwanted weeds.
  • Employing and maintaining an IPM strategy?

The following strategies can be used to control weeds in turf:

Seed bed preparation must be thorough, ensure soil areas are clean and free of weed plants prior to sowing grass seed. Strimming down any nearby existing weeds before flowering will prevent weed seeds being formed, thus reducing the likelihood of weed movement on to newly seeded areas.
Mechanical control of weeds using hoes, hand pulling or burning of weeds may be achieved on small areas but impractical on larger or established turf areas.

Cultural control implies that effective cultural practices are carried out to ensure and establish a dense thick healthy grass sward is produced and maintained, Thus reducing the opportunity of weed seeds invading. To achieve this a number of operations are required, this includes mowing, fertilising, aerating, top dressing, watering, and overseeding. However, it is important to point out that these operations have to be carried out in accordance and in balance with the type of facility and variety of sward and soil being managed.

For example, over watering turf generally leads to shallow rooting turf, which can easily be kicked out on football pitches leaving scars and openings for weed seeds to germinate. Similarly, over feeding and close mowing will put the grass plant under stress, often resulting in the plant becoming weak and eventually resulting in bare areas that weeds can populate.

Chemical control is one of the most efficient methods of dealing with weeds on large areas. Although chemical products can be expensive the effectiveness of these products is generally very good. There are a number of companies offering a range of products that can control all broadleaf weeds in turf. These herbicides come in a range of formulations and methods of application.

The use of Chemicals (pesticides) requires users to comply with a whole series of government legislation. Anyone who advertises, sells, supplies stores or uses a pesticide is bound by legislation, including people who use pesticides in their own homes.

As required by law under the Control of Pesticide Regulations for anyone applying pesticides on a commercial basis qualifications are required. These are divided into 13 units. Unit PA1 is the foundational unit covering legislation through the approved code of practice. Units PA2 to PA13 are specific to the type of applicator being used (i.e. knapsack sprayer, mounted boom sprayer, aircraft sprayer, seed treatment ect). The units generally required by turf managers, greenkeepers, goundsmen and contractors are:

  • Unit: PA01 - Foundation Module
  • Unit: PA02 - Ground Crop Sprayer
  • Unit: PA03 - Broadcast Sprayer or Boom Sprayer (Horizontal or Vertical Plane) with or without Air Assistance
  • Unit: PA04 - Pesticide Granule Applicator - Mounted or Trailed
  • Unit: PA06 - Hand Held Applicators

These qualifications are promoted and organised by the National Proficiency Test Council who can be contacted at www.nptc.org.uk

Chemical products work in different ways:

  • Contact - these products require direct contact with the target pest to be effective.
  • Systemic - these products are translocated within the plant or pest to the point of activity.
  • Soil Acting - products which act within the soil and can be taken up by the plants roots, and are used to control weeds, seedlings or soil borne pests and diseases.

Other factors to consider when using chemicals is the selectivity and length of activity, dose rates and application methods of the product. Chemical selectivity is dependant on the active ingredients' properties in relation to the target plant or pest and its growing situation. Selective weed killers will kill only the broadleaved weeds in grasses, whereas a total weed killer would kill both the grass and weeds. Dosage rates may need to be adjusted to maximise the effectiveness of the active ingredient to deal with any resistant weed species.

Some pesticides are inactivated very quickly and offer no residual effects and may require a repeated dose, whereas some pesticides are residual, break down more slowly and can act over a longer period.

The main active ingredients commonly used to control weeds in turfgrass situations are:

Total weed killers:

  • Glyphosate
  • diquat and paraquat
  • Diuron

Selective weed killers:

  • 2,4-D
  • 2,4-D +dicamba
  • 2,4-D +MPCA
  • 2,4-D +mecoprop-P
  • dicamba+dichlorprop-P+MCPA

Companies are now offering new generations of products that can offer faster, more complete weed control under a far wider range of conditions with much greater coverage per litre and a hazard free 'clean' label. An example of one of these new products can be viewed in our Industry section.

There are many more combinations of active ingredients for the control of weeds in turf. It is recommended that you consult and read the UK Pesticide Guide 2004 Book. Copies can be obtained from British Crop Protection Council (BCPC) at www.bcpc.org to ascertain the right products required. Or seek advice from a qualified consultant or sales representative who have the appropriate qualifications to advise you on products and chemical information.

Prior to using any chemicals a risk assessment must be carried out to reduce the risk to operators and the public, usually completed in the form of a COSHH assessment. This will provide you with a check list to follow:

  • Is total freedom of weeds really necessary?
  • Is it necessary to control the problem with herbicides?
  • Are there any alternative methods of control?
  • Assess risks to operators and the public?
  • Assess the impact on water and the environment?
  • Check your liability, are you suitably qualified and insured to use and spray chemicals?
  • Informing people of your intentions.
  • Choosing the correct product.
  • Choosing the correct equipment.
  • Selecting the correct and safe time to spray.
  • Keeping records of all actions taken and spraying details, including weather records.
  • Disposal of chemicals and containers.

The extent of weed control is usually dependent on a number of factors:

  • Costs and budgets available.
  • Facility type (level of playing standards or prestige of site).
  • Resources available (equipment).
  • Knowledge of greenkeeper/groundsman.
  • Time (priority of work).

In recent years we have seen a number of professional companies offering education, training and contractual services in managing and controlling pests and diseases in the environment. These companies are specialised and now offer cost effective services to the turf grass industry, with most large organisation such as Local Authorities now employing their services as part of best value initiatives. However, the key to successful weed control is down to good management, knowledge and use of the right resources whether it be in-house or externally provided labour.


Diseases caused by pathogens (fungi, bacteria, viruses and nematodes) are the most numerous and infectious agents of plant diseases. The first step is to decide whether the problem is a plant disease. The definition of plant disease includes anything that adversely affects plant health. This definition can include such factors as nutrient deficiencies, mower damage, air pollution, and pathogens. Symptoms and signs are used to diagnose the condition of a plant. Symptoms are the physical characteristics of disease expressed by the plant. Symptoms can include wilt, galls, cankers, rots, necrosis, chlorosis, and general decline. Other signs of disease presence can include fungal fruiting bodies (such as mushrooms), mycelia, bacterial slime, presence of nematodes or insects, or the presence of insect holes.

Once you have determined that a real problem exists and is caused by a living organism, you need to decide what type of organism may be causing the damage. Begin by establishing which plant part or growth stage is showing symptoms. Are symptoms showing on roots, tubers, bulbs, corms, seedling, foliage, stem, branches, trunks, flowers, fruit, or on the entire plant?

Diseases can affect many parts of the plant: root symptoms include galls, discoloration, or death to parts of roots; death of the entire root system or just feeder roots is indicative of many fungi diseases. Injury to the root system often includes yellowing, stunting, or wilting of above ground parts (leaves and shoots). Seedling diseases, where the seedlings fail to emerge or die off, is referred to as damping off disease. Fungi such as Rhizoctonia, Pythium, and Fusarium are common and affect seedlings just at or below the soil line. Plants with white mouldy growth are diagnosed as having powdery mildew or downy mildew fungi.

Leaf symptoms are seen in many forms: discolouration (yellowing or shades of green), localised or in distinct patterns, usually indicates a virus; dead areas on leaves can be caused by fungi or bacteria. Necrotic areas caused by fungi may contain hyphae or fruiting bodies, particularly after incubation in a warm, moist environment. Understanding the specific disease or the life cycle of the pathogen involved is necessary to ensure effective controls can be implemented. Three major factors contribute to the development of a plant disease: a susceptible host, a virulent pathogen, and a favourable environment. (the disease triangle) A plant disease results when these three factors occur simultaneously If one or more of these factors do not occur, then the disease does not occur. The genetic makeup of the host plant determines its susceptibility to disease. This susceptibility or resistance may be determined by various physical and biochemical factors. Plant stature, growth habit, cuticle thickness, and stomatal shape are a few physical factors that influence disease development. The plant's developmental stage also may influence disease development. Pathogens differ in their ability to survive, spread, and reproduce. Environmental extremes of temperature, light, or moisture can accentuate many diseases. Cool, moist conditions are ideal for many fungal pathogens.

Understanding the disease cycle is important when considering control options. Learning the chain of events that contribute to a disease helps point out the weakest links. Control measures can then be used to break the cycle. Most pathogens must survive an adverse period, usually winter, when they do not actively incite plant diseases.

Disease Cycle:

The Pathogens that cause these diseases are always around and often laying dormant in the thatch layers waiting for the ideal conditions to become active. Once these spores are activated and have found an acceptable host they are able to grow and reproduce themselves, spreading new spores and infections to other areas of turf. This cycle continues whilst the right conditions prevail.

Spores are spread by wind, water, and by traffic. It is during periods of fluctuating weather, particularly changes in temperatures, that an outbreak of disease takes place. Attacks can appear at any time of the year.

The table below details the most common diseases found in turfgrass environments in the UK. The details are only a brief introduction to these diseases and their control. There are many good books available that can be obtained from specialist book stalls and organisations that detail and show pictures of these diseases and treatment recommendations.

Disease Symptoms & Conditions Control
Antracnose Colletotrichhum graminicola Seen between late summer, late winter, appears as yellowing individual annual meadow plants in the sward. The disease causes distinct rotting at the base of the plant. The disease is prevalent on compacted/wet soils. Keep the soil well aerated and free draining and implement a IPM strategy.


Brown Patch Rhizoctonia solani A soil borne fungus usually present in most soils. The disease is seen as water soaked patches. The disease is usually confined to leaf tissue, but on severe attacks will affect the whole plant. Brown patch can be prevented by regular scarification which removes infected thatch layers. Regular brushing to remove leaf wetness also helps keep the disease at bay. Implement a good IPM strategy.

Fungicide -iprodione

Dollar spot Scelerotina homoeocarpa On close mown turf seen as very small spots 10-20mm diameter and can coalesce into larger areas, with fescue grasses being most susceptible hosts often resulting from having low fertile soils. Dollar spot can be reduced by selecting resistant grass cultivars, maintaining healthy swards and keeping a good nutrient status in the soil, coupled with a IPM strategy.

Fungicide -carbendazim, chlorothalonil, iprodione

Fusarium patch Microdochium patch (pink snow mold) Microdochium nivale Damaging and disfiguring disease that occurs on amenity turf. 50mm orange/brown spots that can rapidly increase in size. Control moisture to avoid humid conditions, keep surfaces brushed and aerated, and carry out a IPM strategy.


Leaf spot/melting out Drechlera spp, Bipolaris spp and Curvularia spp. Very common disease in the UK. The disease is seen as streaks and patches of affected grasses, the disease is most prevalent under warm, moist, humid conditions. The disease spores are spread by water splash, from rain fall and irrigation. Some grasses are more susceptible than others, use more resistant varieties. Keep the sward healthy, implement a IPM strategy.


Powdery Mildew Erysiphe graminis Usually seen in late spring especially after prolonged dry weather, leaves appear white or pale grey. If left unchecked a heavy infection will result in the sward thinning. Smooth stalked, perennial rye and fescue grasses are most affected. Affects grasses grown in the shade and with poor air circulation. Improve air circulation and reduce shade. Implement a IPM strategy


Red Thread Laetisaria fuciformis Usually seen in summer and autumn months, the disease appears as patches of damaged grass having a pink to red tinges (red needles of the fungus). This disease is associated with infertile soils. Effective soil management and correct feeding programmes coupled with a IPM strategy will help combat this disease.


Take all Patch Gaeumannomyces graminis, formally Ophiobolus graminis (Ophiobolus patch) This disease appears during the summer, and seen as saucer shaped depressed areas of infected bent grasses that appear bronze in colour. 0.3 m in diameter. This disease affects all bent grasses. Keep soil Ph level consistent. A sudden rise in soil pH can see a severe attack of take all patch. Ensure a good IPM strategy is in place.


Other turf grass plant diseases are Rusts, Fairy rings, damping off disease, smuts and slime moulds.

Diseases can often be difficult to control. Most IPM strategies work very well and often involve the use of fungicide treatments to help suppress potential outbreaks of disease. As a general rule, fungicide applications should be made during the first signs of attack, since disease can cause substantial damage in short period of time. In recent years there has been a decline in the use of fungicides. Recent studies have shown that constant use of fungicides often sees the disease becoming resistant to the fungicide, coupled with the fact that they have become very expensive to use.

There are many types of fungicides available and manufactured for use on amenity turf situations, all designed to perform and act differently. Systemic fungicides (thiabendazole, thiophanate-methyl and carbendazim) all belong to the same group of chemicals known as benzimidazoles inorganic. Non-systemic fungicides include sulphur and copper based compounds, organic fungicides, Iprodione and quintoze. A complete list of available chemicals registered for use on amenity grass situations can be seen in the The UK Pesticide Guide 2004.

The main management tool for controlling Pests and Diseases is, by definition, an Integrated Pest Management strategy (IPM) that comprises of a number of tasks and checks providing a comprehensive approach to controlling insects, weeds and pathogens in an economically and environmentally way, using a wide range of resources, skills and services.

The disease triangle is a concept of plant pathology and is based on the principle that disease is the result of an interaction between a host, a potential pathogen and the environment or weather conditions. Plant disease is prevented by elimination of any one of these three causal components.

Keeping the sward healthy and reducing the conditions that favour disease will be the first priority to keep disease from your turf. The following actions should help you achieve this:

  • Carry out programmes of aeration to help keep the surface free draining.
  • Inspect and monitor existing surface water drainage systems; ensure that they are working.
  • Prevent moist conditions remaining on the surface by brushing/sweeping/switching the playing surface (remove dew).
  • Apply a balanced fertiliser to keep the sward healthy. A soil analysis will identify fertiliser requirements.
  • Control thatch layers as thatch provides a good environment for the disease. Reduction of thatch by hollow coring and scarification.
  • Reduce the return of clippings. An accumulation of dead matter will increase thatch.
  • Maintain Soil pH between 5.8-6.5; do not allow the soil to become alkaline.
  • Check mowing heights and keep blades sharp.
  • Be vigilant and treat the disease early to prevent severe attacks. Treat with approved fungicides.
  • Reduce shade.

Pesticides are chemical substances and certain micro-organisms (bacteria, fungi, viruses and mycoplasmas) prepared or used to destroy pests. Pests include creatures, plants and other organisms. The term 'pesticide' covers products such as herbicides, fungicides, insecticides rodenticides, soil sterilants and insect repellents amongst others. Pesticides regulated by MAFF's Pesticides Safety Directorate (PSD) are used in agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry, food storage practice and domestic gardens. Pesticides regulated by HSE's biocides and pesticides unit (BPU) are used as wood preservatives, public hygiene insecticides, surface biocides, rodenticides and anti-fouling products. As with the use of Herbicides there are statutory regulations to comply with when using pesticides to control diseases and insects in the UK. The following Acts and regulations apply:

The Food and Environmental Protection Act 1985:
Part III of the Food and Environmental Act 1985 (FEPA) came into force in September 1985. It aims to protect the health of humans, creatures and plants; safeguard the environment; secure safe, effective and humane methods of controlling pests; and to make pesticide information available to the public. FEPA was put into UK law by the Control of Pesticides Regulations 1986 (COPR), as amended by the Control of Pesticides (amended) Regulations 1997 (COP(A)R). Along with consents given by Ministers for the advertisement, sale, supply, storage and use of pesticides, FEPA provides the means of pest control consistent with protecting the safety of people, animals and the environment.

The Control Of Pesticides Regulations 1986 (as amended 1997):
Under the Control of Pesticide Regulations, all pesticides must gain approval before their advertisement, sale, supply, storage or use is permitted in Great Britain. Approval is a legal requirement and it is an offence to use non-approved pesticides or to use approved pesticides in a manner that does not comply with the specific conditions of approval. All approved pesticides are subject to routine review but may be reviewed at any time if any evidence emerges concerning their safety. If necessary an approval can be restricted or revoked entirely.

Health and safety at work Act 1974:
This act places general obligations on the employer to provide training and safety equipment, the employee is obliged to use the safety equipment provided. Under this Act, The Health and Safety executive has introduced regulations to control the risk of people in the work place arising from substances hazardous to health- and that includes farms, forests, local authorities areas and so on.

COSHH Regulations (Control of substances hazardous to Health):
Requires employers to prevent or adequately control the exposure of their employees and other persons who may be affected to hazardous substances. In addition, the Regulations require: the maintenance, examination and testing of control measures; the provision of information, instruction and training; emergency planning; and, in some cases, exposure monitoring and health surveillance of employees, and preparing procedures to deal with accidents, incidents and emergencies involving hazardous substances.

The water Act 1989:
Under this act it is an offence to allow any poisonous, noxious or polluting matter to enter any controlled waters without the consent to discharge issued by the national rivers authority, controlled waters include, rivers, lakes, canals, estuaries, coastal waters and underground waters. Other regulations and acts that need to be observed are, Control of Pollution Act 1974,The Water Act 1991

Integrated Pest Management:

Government is continuing to be pressured by environmental groups to reduce the use of pesticides in the environment. Each year sees a reduction in pesticide products and, if we fall in line with many other European countries, they may even be banned totally. So, it is important for greenkeepers and groundsmen to develop new skills and cultural practices. One practice that is coming to the fore is Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, and is the use of a variety of pest control methods designed to protect public health and the environment and to produce high quality ornamental turfgrass with the most judicious use of pesticides.

Turfgrass IPM helps to minimise the use of pesticides through the use of a variety of management techniques. Wherever applicable, IPM uses monitoring, pest trapping, resistant varieties and cultivars, cultural, physical and biological controls and precise timing and application of any needed pesticides treatments.

IPM methods include the following:

  • Regular monitoring for pest activity of weeds, diseases and insects.

  • Record-keeping. Keeping diaries containing all working records of the site and facilities, including weather, and maintenance records. Including but not limited to soil moisture, depth and compaction; watering practices; turfgrass species present; height of cut; thatch depth; temperature and humidity; and general site conditions.

  • Proper identification and evaluation of pest problems and recommendations about the use of correct control techniques.

  • Utilising appropriate cultural practices to maintain a vigorous turfgrass/sward quality. This will involve aeration, fertilising, overseeding, mowing, top dressing and watering.

  • Select turfgrass species and cultivars that are well-adapted to the site where they will be growing.

  • Use biological controls as an alternative to pesticides. Beneficial nematodes can be used to control some insects of turfgrass.

  • Always utilise other control options before using pesticides. When pesticides are needed, select ones that are the least toxic and most effective.

The implementation of a good IPM strategy brings many benefits, not only to the facility and end users, but ensures a safer environment for all.

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