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The Wisconsin Turfgrass Association (WTA) summer field day on July 24 was another success. Many visitors to the O.J. Noer Turfgrass Research and Education Facility have complained about the road construction on County Highway M. There was fear that attendance would suffer due to the difficulty in traveling here. But I have always marveled at the support the WTA and the University of Wisconsin–Madison turf program receive from the industry. This year was no exception. Attendance was good at 251 attendees, the weather was terrific, and the educational sessions well received and timely. Gaylord Catering provided another tasty breakfast and lunch. The support from our vendors in the trade show continues to be strong and getting stronger.

The day began with some spirited conversation (about the weather, in particular) along with donuts and coffee. After welcoming remarks from professor of soil science Doug Soldat, the opening session featured the dedication of the new storage building funded by the WTA and Wisconsin Golf Course Superintendents Association. Station superintendent Bruce Schweiger thanked the associations for all of their support, and CALS senior associate dean Dick Straub thanked the group for their hard work in funding the project. WTA president Paul Huggett welcomed everyone and thanked them for their continued support of the WTA which allows the WTA to continue to promote the turfgrass program at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Mike Peters, director of the Agricultural Research Stations, expressed the need for industry support to make projects like this building possible. With all the pleasantries taken care of, attendees divided themselves into five groups and the education began.

The topics for the morning tours were:

  • Diseases of overwatered lawns
  • Calibration of a stand-on sprayer
  • Wildlife damage management
  • Effect of pesticide residue within turfgrass guttation fluid on pollinators
  • Kentucky bluegrass cultivar evaluation and organic weed control
  • Post-emergent control of crabgrass

There was something for everyone during the morning session. Audrey Simard, a masters student in entomology, discussed her project where she is harvesting guttation water from a bluegrass plot and a bentgrass putting green plot. Each plot has various plant protectants applied to them. After applications, she takes samples to see if and how long she can detect each plant protectant. This work will allow entomologists and turfgrass managers insight into what, if any, plant protectants are found in turfgrass guttation fluid after applications.

David Drake, professor of forest and wildlife ecology, discussed the wildlife we encounter every day and ways to deal with them. He was quick to point out that elimination or eradication are not always good options for a wide variety of reasons. The populations you see and those that you actually have are very different. As he says, everything can live in moderation and harmony but we need to understand all the players.

The Smith-Kerns Dollar Spot Prediction Model has everyone talking. Who has used it? How is it working? Is it useful? Implementing the model with the pesticide database Paul Koch, assistant professor of plant pathology, released this summer. Many people have been discussing the use of iron sulfate for dollar spot control. Koch showed the work his lab is conducting this year. It is too early for too much fanfare but some applications are showing some potential.

Many of the lawn care and landscape applicators enjoyed the Z-spray calibration tune-up given by Kurt Hockemeyer from the Turfgrass Diagnostic Lab.  A few of the applicators mentioned they only drive them as instructed. After this brief summary, operators had a better understanding of how the way they operate the Z-sprayer could impact applications.

It’s said that “turfgrass grows by the inch but dies by the foot.” Research on traffic can be duplicated with specialized machinery, but no such equipment exists for bentgrass greens. Soldat and his lab discussed his newest project where plots receive various application rates of nitrogen while being trafficked. Can the level of nitrogen be more closely tied to the amount of play on a putting green? Can the level of nitrogen be established based on rounds played to use fertilizer in the most efficient way possible? As I mentioned, there is no machine to create the traffic that Soldat is studying. How does he mimic the rounds played? He has a dedicated staff that dons their golf shoes and walk plots in a prescribed pattern of step with a metronome, equaling everyone’s pace.

If you missed this year’s event, you missed another great day. Summer Field Day is a chance for you to see the research being conducted, but the Winter Turf Conference, scheduled for Jan. 8, 2019, at the Pyle Center in Madison, is where the some of the results are shared and discussed.

As the season comes to a close, don’t forget the WTA Fall Golf Outing, Monday, Oct. 1, at Kenosha Country Club. Spots are going fast, so if you plan to play, get your registration in soon. Go to www.wisconsinturfgrassassociation.org for more information.