Exacto team at OJ Noer Field Day

Share This Article

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn

Field Day Research Highlights: Home lawn, Topdressing, Disease Control

Glen Obear, RDI Director
Glen Obear, Director of Research, Development, and Innovation (RDI)

Every summer, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Wisconsin Turfgrass Association host a summer field day. The event is excellent every year, but this year was extra special because it was the 30th anniversary of the O.J. Noer Turfgrass Research and Education Facility! Dr. Doug Soldat gave a presentation highlighting the extensive collaboration and support that was pulled together to make the construction of the O.J. Noer Facility possible 30 years ago. 

To this day, the staff and researchers who work at this facility continue to teach, improve, and innovate the way that we manage urban and suburban landscapes across the world. 

The agenda for this year’s WTA Field Day was full of exciting topics ranging from cultivar evaluation, establishment, irrigation and wetting agents, weed and disease management, fertilization, soil testing, and cultural practices like topdressing. Every topic was noteworthy, but this blog post will highlight a few specific studies that I found especially interesting. 

Home Lawn Demo

These plots are standard lawn grass mixtures. One plot was left unfertilized (left) and the other was fertilized with 4 lbs N/1000 sq. ft. (right).

Concept: Fifteen years ago, turf plots were established with three different cutting heights (1.5”, 2.5”, or 3.5”) and seeded with a range of low- and high-end turf species and cultivars. Each turf variety or species was fertilized with three different annual nitrogen rates (0 lbs N/1000 sq. ft., 2 lbs N/1000 sq. ft., or 4 lbs N/1000 sq ft.). No herbicides were applied throughout the duration of the study.  

Highlights: In general, the plots receiving no nitrogen had the greatest weed infestation, and plots receiving 4 lbs N/1000 sq. ft. per year had very low weed pressure despite no herbicides being applied. Under minimal maintenance (no N fertilization), low-end grasses outperformed high-end grasses that were bred to thrive with more inputs.  

One key takeaway is that turf problems – such as weed infestation – are part of a broader context that we need to understand and manage. Weeds are competing with grass for water and sunlight. If the grass is not competitive in a given environment, and weeds are better suited for those growing conditions, they will continue to grow and cause problems.  

Topdressing Study

Topdressing study evaluating multiple methods for calculating sand volume.

Concept: Topdress a sand-based putting green according to different methods for calculating sand volume (USGA, Woods, or PACE), two different application frequencies (weekly or monthly) and two different sand particle size ranges (coarse or fine).  

Highlights: This study is in its first year but may continue for 10-15 years according to the researchers. In the research world, the vast majority of studies only last for 2-3 years. However, longitudinal studies that span many years (see Home Lawn Demo above) are critically important to understand real-world impacts of management practices. Organic matter accumulation on putting greens takes place on a timescale of decades, so it is really exciting to see research designed to measure management impacts over these longer timescales.

Disease Research

All fungal diseases follow the disease triangle – for infection to occur, you need the presence of an infectious pathogen, a suitable host, and an environment in which the pathogen can grow and infect. Fungicides address the pathogen part of the triangle. However, there were many studies focused on the host and environment parts of the triangle. 

Phosphorus-deficient plot showing very low dollar spot infection despite not being treated with fungicide.

Dr. Soldat highlighted National Turfgrass Evaluation Program (NTEP) trials where the newest grass cultivars are screened for many parameters including disease susceptibility. Dr. Paul Koch’s research group is investigating soil fertility and how the soil microbiome might affect disease development. In another study, the researchers hypothesized that altering leaf surface pH could create an unsuitable environment for dollar spot to develop. Dr. Soldat highlighted a study where turf plots deficient in phosphorus had virtually no dollar spot compared to adjacent plots with no P deficiency. 

As the researchers walked through study after study looking at all these aspects of disease development, you couldn’t help but think “this is the future of turf management.” 

Final Thoughts

The studies that were on display during this 30th anniversary of the O.J. Noer Turfgrass Research and Education Facility might be laying the foundation for the studies we’ll see 30 years from now. All of these studies are valuable because they contribute to our understanding of agronomic problems at the system level. That understanding is built piece by piece through decades of research. The WTA Turf Field Day event was exciting because it put those pieces together in a way that clearly showed “here’s where we’ve been, and here’s where we are going.  

draves test for wetting agents and surfactants

What Draves Test Reveals About Wetting Agents & Surfactants

Understanding formulations starts in the lab. Knowing how a substance might perform under certain conditions can help users understand how the products they use may act and perform in the real-world. Exacto Chemist, Chris Walter, explains the Draves Test to help applicators better understand the chemistry behind surfactants and wetting agents in this edition of the Research to Real-World series.

Read More »
draves test for wetting agents and surfactants

What Draves Test Reveals About Wetting Agents & Surfactants

Understanding formulations starts in the lab. Knowing how a substance might perform under certain conditions can help users understand how the products they use may act and perform in the real-world. Exacto Chemist, Chris Walter, explains the Draves Test to help applicators better understand the chemistry behind surfactants and wetting agents in this edition of the Research to Real-World series.

golf course turf with irrigation

Are Adjuvants Useful in Turf and Ornamental Management?

Surfactants, water conditioners, stickers, deposition aids, and other adjuvants positively influence application by optimizing tank mixes to create the best possible application and reduce callbacks in the process. Read on for specific products and how they maximize results for the end-user.

august 20222 corn and soybean crop progress update

US Crop Update – August 22, 2022

Even with some rainfall and cooler weather helping in many areas, US Crop Yield Estimates are declining. As crops in drought-stricken areas near maturity, forecasted precipitation and temperatures leave yield expectations up for debate. Read on to learn more about August crop status and forecasted September outlooks.

soybean field trial

The Value of Field Trials

Exacto Field Development Manager, Lia Marchi Werle explains how field trials add value in the adjuvant and crop protection industry.

Dollar spot on a turf research plot at the OJ Noer

Cutting-Edge Perspectives: Paul Koch

Join in on this cutting-edge perspective featuring Paul Koch, Associate Professor, Department of Plant Pathology at the University of Wisconsin Madison, with Glen Obear, Exacto RDI Director, as they discuss past, present, and future turf research.

shipping containers international supply issues

Cutting-edge Perspectives: Rick Beardmore

Tune into this Cutting-edge Perspectives with Dr. Rick Beardmore, President and General Manager at UniPro Solutions, and Bob Herzfeld, Exacto, Inc. Product Manager, as they discuss current supply chain issues from US production and imports to price interpretations and supply expectations. 

june 2022 us crop update

US Crop Update – May 31, 2022

With Preventive Planting deadlines nearing, some areas are struggling to get crops in the ground. Other areas have completed planting and are already catching up with emergence, but remain behind the yearly average. Read to learn more about the current state of the US Crop and the forecast for June 2022.

Follow Exacto, Inc.

Featured Products