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Turfgrass fertiliser recommendations with or without soil tests

Turfgrass fertiliser recommendations with or without soil tests

My slides for a keynote presentation about fertiliser recommendations at the European Turfgrass Society conference in Manchester, England.


Micah Woods

July 02, 2018


  1. Turfgrass fertiliser recommendations with or without soil tests Micah Woods

    July 2, 2018 Chief Scientist Asian Turfgrass Center @asianturfgrass
  2. Objective of turfgrass fertiliser applications Ensure the turf is supplied

    with just what it requires, while at the same time avoiding (or minimizing) overapplication.
  3. None
  4. 1. Short history of the problem.

  5. 1. Short history of the problem. 2. Two recent (and

    general) solutions.
  6. 47 years ago …

  7. “Fertilizer is the number one management tool. It is worth

    all the attention you can give it.” Madison, 19711 1Madison, J.H. 1971. Principles of turfgrass culture. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Co. p. 270
  8. 40 years ago …

  9. “A study was conducted to determine differences among soil testing

    laboratories … in fertilizer recommendations for turfgrass maintenance and establishment.” Turner & Waddington, 19782 2Turner, T.R. and D.V. Waddington. 1978. Survery of soil testing programs for turfgrasses. Comm. Soil Sci. Plant Anal. 9(1):71-87.
  10. “Unfortunately, turfgrass recommendations appear to be based on research done

    with other crops, such as forages, results from turfgrass fertility studies not designed to relate to soil testing, and the best judgement of the agronomist making the recommendations.” Turner & Waddington, 1978
  11. Seventeen years ago …

  12. “In some cases, turfgrasses have been placed in a ‘high’

    P and K requirement category … This decision was based on economics, not agronomics. The cost of fertilization was not considered of primary importance for turf.” Carrow et al., 20013 3Carrow, R.N., Waddington, D.V., and P.E. Rieke. 2001. Turfgrass Soil Fertility and Chemical Problems. Wiley. p. 164.
  13. Five years ago … Surely these issues have been resolved?

  14. “Calibration of … soil P with turfgrass growth and subsequent

    P fertilization recommendations is scant, and additional data is needed. Many current recommendations for P fertilizer for turfgrasses are based on forage- or field-crop calibration data.” Frank & Guertal, 20134 4Frank, K.W. and E.A. Guertal. 2013. Potassium and phosphorus research in turfgrass. In: Stier, J.C., B.P. Horgan, and S.A. Bonos, editors, Turfgrass: Biology, Use, and Management, Agron. Monogr. 56. ASA, CSSA, SSSA, Madison, WI. p. 493-519.
  15. “Relationships between extracted soil K, K fertilization rates, and turfgrass

    response needs additional study. Such work is especially missing for the sand-based systems in which many turfgrasses are managed.” Frank & Guertal, 2013
  16. Festuca, Iceland

  17. Zoysia, Italy

  18. Agrostis, Cynodon, and Festuca, Portugal

  19. Poa annua, France

  20. Reality: Conventional soil test calibration will never be done for

    even a fraction of the turf species, soil, and climate combinations.
  21. Poa pratensis, Japan

  22. Paspalum vaginatum, Thailand

  23. Axonopus compressus, Indonesia

  24. Digitaria didactyla, Sri Lanka

  25. Two recent solutions 1. Fertiliser recommendations without soil test data.

  26. Two recent solutions 1. Fertiliser recommendations without soil test data.

    2. Fertiliser recommendations with soil test data.
  27. Fertiliser recommendations without soil test data

  28. In this case, it makes sense to apply—at least initially—all

    that the plant can use.
  29. This is the STERF “Precision fertilisation” approach.5 5Ericsson, T., K.

    Blombäck and A. Kvalbein. 2013. Precision fertilisation—from theory to practice. STERF.
  30. “Precision fertilisation is based on the assumption that during vegetative

    growth …, grass requires nutrients in constant relative proportions.” Ericsson et al., 2013
  31. “By matching fertilisation to requirements during the season, it is

    possible to avoid undesirable fluctuations in grass growth and playing quality.” Ericsson et al. 2013
  32. Fertiliser recommendations with soil test data

  33. In this case, one wants to ensure the grass is

    supplied with all that it can use. If the soil can supply some—or all—of that amount, then the fertiliser recommendation accounts for the soil supply.
  34. Minimum levels for sustainable nutrition (MLSN) • Joint project6 of

    ATC (me) & PACE Turf (Wendy Gelernter and Larry Stowell, California) • Started with 16,163 soil samples collected from good-performing turf • Selected a subset of 3,683 with: • pH ≥ 5.5 & ≤ 8.5 • CECsum ≤ 60 mmolc kg-1 6Woods M.S., L.J. Stowell, and W.D. Gelernter. 2016. Minimum soil nutrient guidelines for turfgrass developed from Mehlich 3 soil test results. PeerJ Preprints 4:e2144v1
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  42. For more, please see or @asianturfgrass on Twitter.