Kansas, United States: Golf course superintendents in America have significantly decreased nutrient use rates and the number of acres being fertilised, according to recently released results of a national survey that compared totals from 2006 and 2014.
The survey was the second in the latest series of the Golf Course Environmental Profile reports, conducted by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) and funded by the United States Golf Association (USGA) through GCSAA’s Environmental Institute for Golf (EIFG).
The survey results from more than 1,500 golf course superintendents were collected and independently analysed by scientists at PACE Turf and the National Golf Foundation, which published the findings for peer review before making the information public.
“This study shows us that the golf industry is doing more with less when it comes to nutrient use on golf courses. The numbers show that golf course superintendents have reduced nutrient use across the board with positive results,” said Wendy Gelernter, PhD, co-owner of PACE Turf, which has been providing data analysis for the golf industry for more than 25 years.
“Conservation practices accounted for about 90 per cent of the reduction in nutrient use.”
While the study demonstrated an overall reduction in fertilizer use, it also showed that golf course superintendents cut back most dramatically on their use of phosphate fertilisers, one of the three main nutrients used on managed turf.
The study results showed a 53 per cent reduction in the use of phosphate fertilisers from 2006 to 2014. The largest overall reduction in the use of phosphate and all nutrients was realised in the cooler climates of the Northeast and North Central regions.
The industry also lowered its use of potash by 42 per cent and nitrogen by 34 per cent, resulting in a drop of more than 80,000 tons of nitrogen, phosphate and potash fertilisers each year.
Golf courses nationally are fertilising fewer acres than ever before, which helped lower total nutrient use. Acreage fertilised with phosphate was again cut the most sharply, as superintendents reduced the application of phosphate on 463,000 acres, potash on 252,000 acres and nitrogen on 192,000 acres.
“Golf course superintendents are committed to their role as environmental stewards,” said Rhett Evans, CEO of GCSAA. “This national study further demonstrates our commitment to monitor resources used and willingness to implement change for the betterment of the environment.”
The first study in this series of the Golf Course Environmental Profile was devoted to water use and conservation. It was released in December 2015 and showed that superintendents used 21.8 per cent less water over an eight-year period from 2005 to 2013.
Over the next 18 months, the GCSAA will publish three additional national surveys in key areas related to golf course management as part of this series of the Golf Course Environmental Profile. Each of those surveys is also being funded by the USGA through the EIFG.
**Visit www.gcsaa.org to review the complete survey report.
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