Get your Soil on – Justin Ruiz

Get Your Soil On! – By Justin Ruiz

The Pacific Northwest is starting to wake up.  The days are getting longer and everyone is recovering from the hour of sleep they lost.  Turf, on the other hand, is starting to get to work.  That fall application of fertilizer that you should have applied is designed to store carbohydrates just for this occasion. As turf begins to wake from its long slumber, it may be a bit groggy, and maybe even a little lazy.  It utilizes those stored carbohydrates quickly – shooting out new leaves to catch some sun rays to become self-sufficient on making sugars.  Now you might ask, “Why should I be thinking about the soil?”

As a turf manager it is easy to get caught up in the aesthetics of the job.  You pull up in you truck, hop out and look over emerald green turf.  You nailed your fall application, you can probably even see some of the turf smiling back, maybe even daydream a bit on giving a couple plants a high five on the way into the office. You get to wear your sunglasses!  It is Spring, life is great.  Behind that smile the turf is quietly saying, “I hope we have what we need in the soil once we run out of our winter supply.”

Once the turf has done the job of producing brand new solar panels to catch the light it will turn to the soil.  It is at this time that the turf will begin to stretch out.  Sending roots out to provide the other two major things besides light for plant growth, water and nutrition. So is the life of turf.

The question is, what will the new roots find in the soil to continue their growth?   Winter rains and snow strip away some of the much needed nutrients for photosynthesis. Soil pH reactions will tie up some of the nutrients that are needed for healthy plant growth.  Your job is to make sure grass plants have access to plenty of nutrients to build a strong root system that will prepare for the hot and dry summer, traffic, mowing stress, etc.  We strongly recommend a soil test to determine the status of your soil health.

I know, I know, you can say, “I do the same thing every year and I have never had a problem, I am giving the plant everything it needs.” My answer to that, which is an answer to a lot of turf related questions, is it depends.  If you remember your soils class from a little while ago you will remember that soil nutrition is much like politics between democrats, republican, and independents. Some nutrients get blocked, some nutrients pass and can then help or hinder other nutrients and so on. With that being said, you may want to investigate so you can create a more balanced environment.  Supplying the same nutrients consistently could cause imbalance over time.  Turf and soil can be sneaky.  You don’t see any problems until one season it has had enough.  Then it takes some time to get things back in the game.

When should you check your soils?

The point of cultivation is to give a favorable environment for those roots to go, gasses to escape, water to penetrate and give soil room to breathe.  It is also a great time to get much needed soil nutrients deeper into the root zone. That is why pulling samples before you open up the soil is recommended.  The spring timing will give you an idea of what the winter rains did to the soil and what could be applied while the soil is open to provide the plants what they will be needing as they send roots out and turn to the soil for support.  The results will also help you set up a plan for the season to supplement what may be lacking in the soil to support healthy turf.

I would then recommend a second sample before fall cultivation.  You can see how successful you season plan was and if you are moving toward a more balanced soil environment.  Just like anything in life, creating goals and making a plan to achieve them is important for success.  Checking your soils consistently can help you monitor your progress.

Any one of us at Planet Turf can help you check your soils.  We explain the soil test results in a practical way that will help you understand how nutrients are working in the soil which will in turn help you make proactive decisions about managing the turf.

If you have any questions or would like to set up a meeting to get your soils tested please feel free to contact me.

Justin Ruiz, CGCS, MG

justin@planetturfusa.com

360-878-0479

PLANET TURF ADDS REGIONAL TURFGRASS SALES SPECIALIST, DAN SALOIS

Press Release

Contact: Riley Connolly

Phone: (509)921-5421

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

9 A.M. PT, March 7, 2018

 

PLANET TURF ADDS REGIONAL TURFGRASS SALES SPECIALIST

 SPOKANE, WA. March 1,2018: Planet Turf, (www.planetturfusa.com) a company providing turf and ornamental maintenance products and services, announced today that it has named Dan Salois, Regional Turfgrass Sales Specialist for the Pacific Northwest. He will be living in Pullman, Washington and serving customers in Washington, Idaho, and Montana.

“Dan’s experience and education give him the skills and knowledge needed to serve our customers at the highest level.” Says Jim Connolly, President of Planet Turf.  Salois graduated Magna cum Laude from Washington State University in 2003 with a bachelors in crop science. He has worked on several golf courses in the Pacific Northwest, and was superintendent for 7 years at Highland Meadows Golf Club in Sylvania, Ohio, home of the Marathon LPGA Classic. He is a Certified Crop Advisor and has experience in research, agronomy, sales, and operations. He was most recently with major agricultural retailer in Pullman, WA.  “Dan is passionate about his career, turfgrass, and learning.  Innovation is important at Planet Turf and Dan will fit our philosophy perfectly.” Says Connolly.

Planet Turf provides solutions to turfgrass and ornamental management challenges by providing innovative products combined with scientific testing and continual monitoring of plant and soil health. Planet Turf is the exclusive supplier of United Turf Alliance products (www.utaarmortech.com) and carries a full line of proprietary foliar fertilizers and other nutrient and bio-stimulants that are designed to improve nutrient uptake efficiency, reduce stress related disease, and assist in developing healthier turfgrass.  Planet Turf distributes its products in the Pacific Northwest, Canada, Micronesia, and Asia.

Justin Ruiz brings his knowledge and skill to Planet Turf – Let’s talk turf.

Hello, My name is Justin.  I wanted to take the time to introduce myself to everyone growing grass in the Northwest.  I am excited to meet with superintendents and lawn care professionals in Western Washington, Oregon, and Alaska.  I have been a superintendent for 15 years in Arizona and Washington and have had the privilege to work with some amazing people along the way.

I am passionate about looking for answers to solve tough problems in Turfgrass management and  visiting new golf courses, sports fields, and professional landscapes.   Professionals benefit from talking to others in their field and that is why Planet Turf exists – to be part of your toolbox!

Planet Turf and myself understand the goal of getting grass to reach its genetic potential and I will be sharing with you some of the exciting technologies we are working with. 

I would like to invite you to attend our 9th annual  Planet Turf seminar February 14th at Tacoma Country and Golf Club. If you can make it, please RSVP and we will save a spot for you!   If you can’t make it, i am happy to set up an appointment when we can meet and “talk turf.”  It is my favorite thing to do.

If you have any questions or would like to set up an appointment to talk turf, please feel free to contact me.  If you would like to know a little more about my passion of turfgrass management click here to see a short explanation of my background.

Justin C. Ruiz, CGCS, MG

justin@planetturfusa.com

360-878-0479

Planet Turf hires Justin Ruiz

PLANET TURF ADDS REGIONAL TURFGRASS SALES SPECIALIST

Contact: Riley Connolly (509) 921-5421

SPOKANE, WA. December 5, 2017: Planet Turf, (www.planetturfusa.com) a company providing turf and ornamental maintenance products and services, announced today that it has named Justin Ruiz, 39, Regional Turfgrass Sales Specialist for the Pacific Northwest. He will be living in western Washington and serving customers in Washington, Alaska, Oregon and Canada.

“Justin’s experience and education give him the skills and knowledge needed to serve our customers at the highest level.” Says Jim Connolly, President of Planet Turf.  Ruiz graduated from Oregon State University with a bachelors in horticulture and turf, and received his Master’s Degree in agriculture from Washington State University.  He has over 14 years of experience as a golf course superintendent and is a popular guest speaker at numerous industry association conferences.  “We are fortunate to have Justin join the Planet Turf team.” Adds Connolly, President of Planet Turf.

Planet Turf provides solutions to turfgrass and ornamental management challenges by providing innovative products combined with scientific testing and continual monitoring of plant and soil health. Planet Turf is the exclusive supplier of United Turf Alliance products (www.utaarmortech.com) and carries a full line of proprietary foliar fertilizers and other nutrient and bio-stimulants that are designed to improve nutrient uptake efficiency, reduce stress related disease, and assist in developing healthier turfgrass.  Planet Turf distributes its products in the Pacific Northwest, Canada, Micronesia, and Asia.

THE GROWING INTEREST IN BENEFICIAL PLANT HEALTH COMPOUNDS


IMPROVING UPON TRADITIONAL FERTILIZER

Fertilizer recommendations for turfgrass are often based on soil tests that report the theoretical availability of about 16 elements traditionally considered essential for plant growth. The historical basis for what is considered essential for plant growth is from many years of research on plant growth as it relates to crop yield. Commercial testing labs have developed guidelines and protocol related to this research and agronomists and fertilizer companies supplied various formulations to meet the need. Some agronomists believe that essential or “basic” nutrients are necessary to meet all the plants needs but there is growing interest in the application of additional elements and compounds that can benefit plant health. These additional elements and chemical compounds are considered “beneficial” but not always essential for plant growth and crop yield. Another term that is often used for elements and compounds outside the traditional list of essential elements is “non-essential”. As with most scientific developments in production agriculture, the turfgrass industry takes notice and tries to apply these findings to growing turfgrass. Professional turfgrass managers are interested in these non-traditional compounds because some of them can induce beneficial plant responses that lead to healthierplantsandpossiblelesstraditionalfertilizerinputs. Thisarticlewilldiscusssomeofthosecompounds.

Beneficial compounds may not be in the same category as a fertilizer nutrient, but they may elicit various plant responses. Seaweed extract is one of the most popular compounds having multiple positive effects on turfgrass. The problem for many is the fact that the exact mechanisms of plant response are not completely understood. In agriculture, “seaweed extracts consistently outperformed the controls (regular crop management program) and produced better quality fruit and higher yields.” (Norrie and Keathley, 2006) Turfgrass exhibits improved stress resistance due to antioxidant production when treated with seaweed extract and humic acids (Zhang, et al., 1997). There are many seaweed products marketed and no standard method of evaluating content, ingredients, or performance. The buyer is left to decide which products to purchase and how best to use them.

Other examples of beneficial compounds include silicon, amino acids, vitamins, organic acids, humic acid,complexedmetals,pigments,andphosphites. IntheUnitedStates,eachState(50ofthem)isresponsible for developing and enforcing fertilizer laws. Most States define fertilizer as a “substance containing one or more recognized plant nutrients” (WSDA, 2010). In Washington State, for example, ingredients not recognized as essential are considered “Non-Plant Food Ingredients” (NPFI). However, listing the non-plant food ingredients on the label is optional. If they are listed, the percent of the ingredient and its source must be

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identified. The “source” description can be very vague, and often humorous. One humic acid product lists, “Derived from Cretaceous Period fresh water humic substances”, a very romantic description of humic acid. Silicon (Si) is an example of an element that is shown to produce beneficial plant response but is not

considered essential for all plants. Si is very essential for rice, equisetum, and other plants, but not essential for turfgrass. However, Si can be beneficial because it enhances plant tolerance to drought stress and other abiotic stress. The scientific answers are theorized in a number of research reports. (Mukathar, 2012) As a result of this research, in addition to field results by professional turfgrass managers, there are many products that contain various forms of silicon compounds. Elements are often sold as a compound form. Nitrogen, for example, is sold as urea, ammonium sulfate, ammonium phosphate and a large number of other compounds. The same is true with silicon. Scientists are constantly looking for compounds that are more efficient, have higher plant availability and affordable. This results in a growing number of products that claim their chemical compound is better than the competition. In the case of silicon, the user has choices of what form of Si they can buy. Potassium silicate is one form of silicon that has been marketed, researched, and was used in the aforementioned research with positive results. Another form of Si, Optimizer PSiTM, is marketed by United Turf Alliance and contains amorphous opaline silica. This form is an organic plant derived form of Si claiming to be more efficiently absorbed and used by turfgrass.

Beneficial compounds are surrounded by a good deal of skepticism. The phrase “snake oil” is a term that is assigned to products sold by unscrupulous salesmen to so called dull witted golf course superintendents. In leading turfgrass publication from 1998 entitled, Snake Oils, golf course superintendents are warned by the author, “Do not buy any new product sold by individuals whose claims cannot be substantiated by extensive university research.” In today’s world of reduced university research funding and growing number of beneficial compounds on the market, it is not possible for universities to test even a small fraction of the products being sold. Turfgrass managers can’t always wait for research findings before purchasing products to try. Kevin Hicks, superintendent at The Coeur d’ Alene Resort Golf Course in Idaho, believes that out-of-the-box thinking is critical to his success with regard to products containing non- traditional ingredients. “My career and reputation is on the line every day and I must find products, tested or not, that I can use as tools to better manage my golf course” Says Hicks.

Products used on turfgrass come and go every year. The ones that remain are mostly the result of people using them, liking them, and seeing results. University testing and turfgrass manager observations from trials do not need to be conflicting methods of discovery. After all, necessity is the mother of invention.

Which part of the plant is better at absorbing nutrients; the root or the leaf? The answer is it depends. According to Dr. Haibo Liu, from Clemson University, leaves can absorb a variety of substances, and quite efficiently. “Leaves can absorb nutrients better than roots under certain conditions.” says Dr. Liu. Roots have

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the potential to absorb a greater amount of nutrients than leafs, but soil conditions can greatly limit nutrient availability. Soil pH, soil water content, antagonistic soil chemical reactions, leaching, and nutrient tie-up are just a few of the challenges related to nutrient uptake efficiency of roots. A different set of conditions affect foliar absorption. They include the form of nutrient, size of the molecule, time of leaf wetness, nutrient concentration, and water application rate.

There is much to learn about plant physiology and the miraculous way plants work. We have a limited understanding in many areas of turfgrass growth, physiology, and biochemistry that makes definitive recommendations about the use of Non Plant Food Ingredients very difficult. Still, the use of biostimulants on turfgrass holds great potential (Karnok, 2000)

Scientists are working hard on more efficient formulations of both essential and beneficial compounds. Most of this research is done in agriculture food production. The traditional form of phosphorus, for example, is derived from mineral ore and contains the compound phosphate, PO43-. Phosphate is subject to chemical soil reactions that reduce its plant availability. Nutrient compounds can be formulated to have higher absorption efficiencyinbothsoilapplicationsandfoliarapplications. Intheareaofimprovedfoliaruptakeofnutrients, researchers are focusing on the form, size, and chemical properties of molecules in order to improve uptake by both leaves and roots. New formulations of molecules with low molecular weight and specific electrical charges improve foliar absorption by leaves. Compared to soil applied nutrients, research shows that under some conditions, and with the right molecular structure, 95% of a single nutrient can be utilized by a foliar feeding versus only 10% of the same nutrient applied to the soil. (Tukey, 1958., Bukovac and Wittner, 1957)

Economics plays an important part of the decision making process. The cost to include beneficial compounds to the current nutritional program must be offset by benefits that could include less pesticide applications, better tolerance to stress, improved plant density, more efficient uptake of essential nutrients, more predictable growth response, and overall improved turfgrass health. A growing number of research reports show statistical improvements to turfgrass quality from applications of biostimulants (Mueller and Kussow, 2005). Root development has been reported to improve from the use of some biostimulants and used with the planet growth regulator Trinexapac-ethyl. Other research shows improved color and reduced leaf senesce from the application of biostimulants (Huang and Xu, 2009).

Practical experience by turfgrass managers continue to reveal non-food plant products that can achieve benefits beyond that of using only traditional nutrient fertilizers. Observing results of these applications and correlating the results to published literature can provide a deeper understanding of how to use non-traditional compounds to bolster the effectiveness of current nutrient programs. All of this information will improve the managers’ ability to make decisions about programs that build healthier turf.

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References Cited:

Norrie, J. and Keathley, J.P. 2006. Benefits of Ascophylum Nodosodum Marine-Planet-Extract Applications to Thompson Seedless Grape Production. Acta Hort. (ISHS) 727:243-248

Zhang, Xunzhong; Ervin, E. H.; Schmidt, R. E. 2003. Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science. July. 128(4): p. 492-496.

Mukhtar Ahmed, Muhammad Asif and Aakash Goyal (2012). Silicon the Non-Essential Beneficial Plant Nutrient to Enhanced Drought Tolerance in Wheat, Crop Plant, Dr Aakash Goyal (Ed.), ISBN: 978-953-51- 0527-5, InTech, DOI: 10.5772/45647. Available from: http://www.intechopen.com/books/crop-plant/silicon- the-non-essential-beneficial-plant-nutrient-to-enhanced-drought-tolerance-in-wheat

Baird, James H. 2007. Soil Fertility and Turfgrass Nutrition 101. USGA Green Section Record. September/October. 45(5): p. 1-8.

Bukovac, M.J., and Wittwer, S.H. 1957. Absorption and Mobility of Foliar Applied Nutrients. Michigan State Agricultural Experiment Station. Journal Article No. 2059.

Huang, B., and Xu, Y. 2010. Promoting Better Summer Performance of Creeping Bentgrass through Application of Trinexapac-ethyl and Seaweed Extract-based Biostimulants. USGA Turfgrass and Environmental Research Online. Volume 9, Number 7.

Karnock, K.J., 2000. Turfgrass Biostimulants – Are they a Viable Management Tool? Found Online at: http://archive.lib.msu.edu/tic/mitgc/article/200052.pdf

Moore, J.F. 1998. Snake Oils. USGA Green Section Record. May/June Issue. Page 13
Mueller, S.R., and Kussow, W.R. 2005. Biostimulant influences on turfgrass microbial communities and

creeping bentgrass putting green quality. Hort Science. Vol: 40.

Settle, D., and Dernoeden, P.H. 2009. Evaluation of cytokinen plant extract biostimulants, iron, and nitrogen products for their effects on creeping bentgrass summer quality. USGA Turfgrass and Environmental Research Online 8(1): 1-16

Tukey, H.B. 1958. New Ideas through Atomic Energy. Foliar Feeding of Plants. Found at: http://www.uas- cropmaster.com/pdfs/SummaryOfProject.pdf

WSDA, 2010. Fertilizer Registration Guidance Document. PUB 90.
Zhang, Xunzhong; Ervin, E. H.; Schmidt, R. E. 2003. Journal of the American Society for Horticultural

Science. July. 128(4): p. 492-496.