We asked experts from several leading fertilizer companies: What’s the most important thing sports turf managers need to keep in mind when implementing a fertilization program for their fields?

ROBIN DUFAULT

National Account Manager/Dakota

Sports turf managers need to develop an appropriate management plan based on the type of turf they’re managing. Also, make sure to do adequate soil testing to ensure that soil levels of phosphorus and potassium are [present]. Then, use a highermaintenance fertilizer to help to reduce thatch. They also need to make sure they’re applying the correct amendments that will help with the efficacy of the fertility program — this can help with the nutrient uptake and keep the nutrients from volatizing.

JOHN FOWLER

Vice President of Sales, Turf Division/Anuvia Plant Nutrients

Turf must recover quickly. Athletic fields are highusage, high-visibility assets to communities. A single field may support multiple activities within a short time. With Anuvia’s GreenTRX, fields rebound faster, form deeper root systems and exhibit a vibrant, rich green color. Sixty-five percent of nitrogen (N) is released in the first two weeks as NH4; the balance of N becomes available over the next six to eight weeks as GreenTRX’s Organic MaTRX slowly breaks down in the soil. Equally important, GreenTRX is environmentally sustainable. Every pound of GreenTRX used on turf is a pound of reclaimed organic waste kept out of landfills.

DAVE WACKER

Regional Sales Manager/Crystal Green Fertilizer

I would encourage sports turf managers to focus their attention and budget on what’s underneath the surface of their fields. The demands of sports turf make root structure critical to both short-term and long-term success. Strong roots will provide durability during play and be critical to maintaining a field that survives seasonal stresses. It’s important to spend time understanding the needs of the turf type and soil regarding fertilizer, micronutrients and other soil amendments to promote root development. Soil samples and root length and density analysis will provide a guide for ongoing treatments.

JOEL SIMMONS

President/EarthWorks

Sports turf managers need to keep in mind how a soil works. A soil is a living, dynamic entity driven by microorganisms that need the right environment to proliferate and do what they do best — break down nutrients for mobility, digest carbon in the soil, provide better water retention and ultimately a level of checks and balances for pathogens. To get the right environment for microbes, the best place to start is with a good soil testing protocol. By getting the soil balanced chemically, ideal levels of nutrients can be made more available to the plant. Also, a balanced soil will allow soil colloids to move apart just enough to get ample air and water movement though the soil profile, which will provide the environment needed for active beneficial bacteria. A carbon-based fertility program can provide available energy for these microbes so they can do their job more efficiently, providing better turf recovery and ultimately making the turf manager’s job easier.

GORDON KAUFFMAN III, PH.D.

Technical Manager/ Brandt/Grigg Brothers

Athletic fields require adequate turfgrass rooting and optimum uniformity for the best traction and playability. Nutrient management programs should be designed to enhance turfgrass root growth and overall vigor — for both established turf and seedlings. Carefully consider the correct dose and timing of soluble nitrogen (N) applications. For example, apply higher doses of soluble N under optimal growing conditions. Conversely, make low dose and frequent applications of nutrients, including soluble N, to maintain plant vigor under environmental stress for effective turfgrass establishment.