PACE Turf - Turfgrass Information Center

Precision Turf Management

MLSN and GP at the 2017 GIS

Jason Haines (@PenderSuper on Twitter) and Larry Stowell (@paceturf on Twitter) taught a half-day course on Minimum Levels for Sustainable Nutrition (MLSN) guidelines and Growth Potential (GP) to more than 100 golf course superintendents from around the world. The slide presentation and handout materials used for the course have been provided at the links below:

2009 International Symposium on Soil and Plant Analysis

11th International Symposium on Soil and Plant Analysis Plenary Session 2: Turf and Landscape

Spatial Analysis and Remote Sensing for Precision Turfgrass Management

By: Larry Stowell, PACE Turf, San Diego, California

While precision farming has enjoyed increasing adoption over the past several years, the concept of precision turfgrass management is still in its infancy. However, with the introduction of sensors such as the GreenSeeker by NTech Industries, Inc., interest in GPS and GIS has been growing. This presentation will describe development and potential applications for remote sensing (aerial, hand held, and equipment mounted sensors) coupled with GPS and GIS in turfgrass management and diagnostics. Case studies conducted at golf courses, a professional baseball field and a thoroughbred racing track will be used to illustrate the benefits of using sensors as management tools that can help to reduce inputs and improve turf quality. Factors evaluated include turfgrass nitrogen status, soil salinity, soil moisture, irrigation distribution, and soil compaction.

Sensors used in these studies include the GreenSeeker NDVI sensor and a Geonics EM-38 electrical conductivity meter mounted on utility cart-drawn sled, a handheld Spectrum Technologies CM1000 chlorophyll meter, a handheld Spectrum Technologies TDR-300 soil moisture sensor, and the Spectrum Technologies SC900 soil compaction meter. A Trimble AgGPS132 GPS receiver set to beacon was used for sub-meter GPS location and Recon TDS400 hand held computer running HGIS software by StarPal and a B&B Electronics 232BSS-4 smart switch multiplexer were used for data acquisition. Handheld digital photography was also used to provide another method for visualizing results, with digital images analyzed using SigmaScan by Systat Software Inc.

Currently, use of spatial analysis and sensor systems is primarily restricted to academic and professional advisors, but adoption of GPS and GIS by end-users in the turf industry may become more widespread as economic pressures result in the need to reduce the cost of labor, fertilizer, pesticides, fuel and irrigation water at large turfgrass sites.

Presentation (3.6 MB pdf)

What is Precision Turfgrass Management?

The goal of Precision Turfgrass Management (PTM) is to carefully observe, document,   map, and manage golf courses on the smallest reasonable scale to   provide optimum performance (as defined for each golf course) using the   minimum human, natural, mechanical and chemical resources.  In addition to   improving management for different locations throughout the course (spatial),   precision management will help improve management through time (temporal).

PACE will continue to update information relating to the adoption of PTM   by providing background information, information on equipment and techniques and examples of PTM applications on golf courses.

Steps in adoption of Precision Turfgrass Management:

  • Characterize and document the site - soils, plants, areas, irrigation system (greens, tees,   fairways, roughs, landscapes, out of play low maintenance areas, cart paths,   lakes, etc.)
    • Design maps and “as-built” drawings including irrigation heads, valve boxes and controllers are a start
    • Aerial photographs
    • Standard survey maps
    • GPS survey maps
    • Soil and water analyses
    • Climate (long term trends) and weather (within-season conditions). 
    • Turf types and areas
    • Landscape plants and areas
    • Other information as needed; sources of information will vary with the site
  • Develop management zones based upon common characteristics of areas at the site
    • Common soil type
    • Similar plant requirements - fairways vs. rough vs. greens vs. trees
    • Similar pest threats
    • Slopes with unique irrigation issues
    • Areas near waterways or lakes
    • Again, the list will be unique to each golf course
  • Set performance goals for each management zone of the golf course

  • Document management practices that result in optimum performance of the course and track changes over time
  • Identify minimum human, natural, mechanical and chemical resources needed
      to provide optimum course performance.

  • Implement reductions in resource inputs as needed to meet environmental or
      budgetary limitations with the understanding that some reduction in turfgrass
      or course performance will be observed. Ideally, no reduction in turf performance
      will be observed as resources are used more effectively. An example would be
      to reduce or eliminate most management practices in out-of-play areas and redistribute
      manpower and resources such as irrigation and fertilization to more critical
      areas of the course.

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