In this and future posts, we’ll be covering many different topics and practices we routinely perform on the golf course throughout the year. One very comprehensive and technical practice that is performed in every season of the year, in varying degrees, is that of Pest Management.
The word “Pest” generally brings up thoughts of bugs to most, but on the golf course it means much more. The types of pests we’re concerned with are extensive and often include:
- Injurious & Nuisance Insects
- Broadleaved & Grassy Weeds
- Aquatic Weeds
- Undesirable Fish species
- Undesirable Bird species
- Some species of Mammals
The term pesticide is any product that kills a pest. Some examples include:
- Fungicides - control fungi (diseases)
- Herbicides - control weeds
- Insecticides - control insects
- Algaecides - control algae
Knowing how to properly read a label is as important as the application of the material and understanding how it works. In addition to the info in this picture, other information found in labels include target pests, rates, restrictions, & environmental information.Our strategy for controlling pests doesn’t begin with grabbing a product off the shelf and applying in to a given turf, tree, or landscape area. It begins with an entire integrated program we use called, Integrated Pest Management or IPM. IPM is the most efficient and environmentally safe approach to pest control. It includes non-chemical and chemical control methods such as:
- Cultural control – improving plant health with proper mowing, fertility, irrigation, selecting resistant varieties, aeration, topdressing, pre-plant soil preparation, proper planting, mulching, and more.
- Mechanical – physical elimination of the pests by; cultivation, pruning, manual removal, burning (prairie areas).
- Biological – control utilizes living organisms such as predators (promoting insect feeding birds such as bluebirds), and using beneficial fungi that attacks certain injurious insects.
- Chemical – control using approved plant protectants, at proper time and rate, and rotating with different mode-of-action chemistries to avoid resistance issues.
As you can see, Pest Management is quite involved and a critically important course management activity that we conduct regularly. The IL Dept. of Agriculture is the lead agency that regulates the various plant protectants we use to control pests, and they also conduct the training, certification testing, and licensing.
For a two day period every three years, we’re involved with this training and testing so we can not only retain our legal right to purchase and apply necessary products, but also to refresh our current knowledge, and remain informed of the latest pest occurrences’, control methods and products, and laws and regulations.
The importance of pest management education can never be over emphasized. This is what can happen when carelessness and a lack of education combine during a plant protectant spray - a lot of dead turf! (Don't worry... this is not Skokie CC!)It was a long two-day period for me, as I was required to take 4 tests, to retain the appropriate licenses needed to manage the course and general club property. I’m happy to report I did pretty well with an average score of 94%. All I can think is that some of what the test writers think are the right answers, must be wrong!