Tag Archives: Weeds

What now? Early spring sports field management

 

“Springtime is the land awakening. The March winds are the morning yawn.” – Quoted by Lewis Grizzard in Kathy Sue Loudermilk, I Love You

Spring is slowly unfurling. And in the spring a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of… turf maintenance. Photo: Joellen Lampman

The first athletic field question of the year has arrived – and it has to do with the Child Safe Playing Fields Act. (Since its full implementation in 2011, there are still many questions about the law. We tried to address some of the more common ones in a previous blog post.) This week’s question was in regards to fertilizer and if there were any restriction under the law.

The answer is no, although a combined fertilizer and pesticide product (often referred to as weed and feed) is covered under the Child Safe Playing Fields Act. Fertilizer use, however, does fall under the NYS Nutrient Runoff Law, which prohibits:

  • Applying fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium between December 1 and April 1 (Nassau and Suffolk County have their own local laws restricting application dates)
  • Applying fertilizer containing phosphorus unless you are establishing a new lawn or a soil test shows the need for phosphorus
  • Applying fertilizer within 20 feet of a water body (there are some caveats – see DEC website)
  • Leaving fertilizer on impervious surfaces such as sidewalks, parking lots, or driveways (fertilizer must be swept up, not washed off with water)

Thus ends the legal part of the blog.

And now on to why we would talk about fertilizer on a pest management blog. Healthy turfgrass is the best preventive against turf pests. Dense stands leave little room for weed seeds to germinate. Extensive roots can withstand some insect feeding without impacting turf quality. Proper fertilization provides your grass with the proper nutrients for growth and recovery.

 So what is the minimum that should be done now to produce pest resistant turfgrass on fields that are used year round?

Heavy spring fertilizer applications lead to excessive shoot and leaf growth and poor root growth. This leaves turf less likely to handle harsh summer conditions.

  • Fertilizing – After the turf greens up and ensuring that you are able to apply fertilizer legally (April 1st for most of NY), apply ½ pound of 50% water soluble nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. in April and ½ pound of 50% water soluble nitrogen or 100% organic nitrogen source in mid to late May. Note that spring applications are lighter than late summer and fall fertilization rates.
  • Mowing – If you haven’t already, sharpen those blades. Sharp blades reduces both injury to the turf blades as they are being cut and fuel usage. Once the grass is growing, mow as frequently as your schedule allows and as high as the sport allows. Mowing increases shoot density by increasing tillering (stems that develop from the crown of the parent plant). Dense turf leaves less room for weeds to propagate.
  • Overseeding -Seed perennial rye at 2 pounds per 1,000 sq. ft. weekly in high-use areas. With snow in the forecast, you may want to consider dormant overseeding now.

What if I can do more than the minimum?

  • Watering – According to the Northeast Drought Update, “27% of the Northeast in a drought and 20% of the region is abnormally dry”. Once it starts growing, turf needs about 1” of water per week. You can help determine irrigation need by referring to ForeCast: Weather for the Turf Industry Irrigation Information.
  • Fertilizing – Conduct a soil test to see if other nutrients are needed in addition to the nitrogen.
  • Cultivating – Concentrating on high-use areas, solid tine cultivate in multiple directions to maintain infiltration of air and water.

    The official Cornell Turfgrass twitter account will provide you with timely turf care information.

For more information on maintaining safe, functional athletic fields, visit http://safesportsfields.cals.cornell.edu. You will find different maintenance schedules based on number of seasons used and resources available, detailed information on different management practices, and information on “Duty of Care”, a legal obligation to a standard of reasonable care. For the most up-to-date information, follow the Cornell Turfgrass twitter account.


Managing Nuisance Geese Webinar – March 30th

Canada geese are protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, but there are still things you can do to manage them. Harassing them (such as with dogs or lasers) does not need a permit. Interfering with their nest — such as addling their eggs — does. Photo: Joellen Lampman

Although beautiful in flight and valued as a symbol of the wild, Canada Geese frequenting school grounds, including athletic fields, are a growing concern. Please join us for a discussion about goose biology and behavior, the legal framework for dealing with goose problems, alleviation techniques available to schools, and the long-term management of geese and goose problems. For more information and to register for this New York State School Facilities Association event, visit http://nyssfa.com/sfmi-trainingevents/webinars.

Speakers:
♦ Lynn Braband, Sr. Extension Associate, NYS IPM Program
♦ Joellen Lampman, School and Turfgrass IPM Extension Support Specialist, NYS IPM Program

Online School IPM Resources to assist IPM Professionals with their Programs

Thank you to Janet Hurley, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, for her dedicated effort to progress school IPM and for allowing us to use her post.

In 2014, a number of collaborating institutions led by Dawn Gouge, University of Arizona and Janet Hurley , Texas A&M AgriLife Extension received two separate grants from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide online resources on integrated pest management (IPM) for school personnel. The Stop School Pests team used their grant to focus on education and training for personnel, while Hurley and collaborating scientists created a one-stop online “big box store” of IPM resources, including documents, training, pest ID pamphlets, state legislation and more.

stop-school-pests-urlThe training website, Stop School Pests, resulted from a collaboration of 42 people from federal and state agencies, universities, school districts, tribes, advocacy organizations and industry. Together they proposed to build a resource that would increase IPM adoption in K-12 schools and reduce the risks from pests and repeated pesticide use.

stop-school-pests-modulesStop School Pests provides modifiable PowerPoint presentations for in-class teaching and self-guided online courses. Lessons are specific to different roles within a school, so that facility staff will have access to materials specific to them.

While some groups, such as facility managers and maintenance personnel, were eager to delve into the materials, others such as nurses and teachers initially did not think the subject matter pertained to them. However, several who participated in some of the in-class lessons said that they did not realize how much they did not know about pest management and were glad that they took the lessons.

“I have been a school nurse for 25 years, and I cannot believe I learned so much helpful information in just one hour,” said Mary Griffin, a nurse in Arizona, after attending a training session piloting the Stop School Pests School Nurse Module.

A softball coach said that she did not realize that spraying pesticides without a license was illegal in her state until she went through the training.

For personnel who need specific information or don’t know where to turn once a pest problem starts, the iSchoolPestManager website provides over 1,000 resources, including the educational materials from the Stop School Pests project.

The iSchoolPestManager site was built as a searchable online mine of school IPM resources from every state. Staff from Texas A&M AgriLife spent several months collecting materials; then volunteers from throughout the country, even one from Israel, painstakingly combed through them to eradicate duplicates, outdated materials or references to materials that no longer existed. The initial 1,315 resources were pared down to 1,045 entries. Staff at the Pesticide Information Center in Oregon helped design and build the website. The website currently has 1,065 documents to assist everyone with adopting, maintaining, and sustaining their IPM program.stop-school-pests-website

Search for all sorts of documents by going to the show me everything tab.

The site is formatted for a standalone computer, with a separate link that will bring up special formatting for a smart phone or tablet. Resources are divided into four areas: geographically specific, professional trainings and other materials, insect-specific information, and groups of documents such as fact sheets, regulations, checklists and more.

Rather than duplicate information already provided at other websites, Hurley decided to link to them. For instance, self-paced instruction under “Training Modules” links to pages hosted by eXtension. Some of the PowerPoint presentations are located at Bugwood. Some of the educational links go to videos at university websites.

While the amount of information in iSchoolPestManager might seem overwhelming at first, users looking for specific information will be able to use the headings and sections to locate what they need more easily.

Additional information

What now? Autumn sports field management

“Of all the seasons, autumn offers the most to man and requires the least of him.” – Hal Borland

No disrespect to Mr. Borland, but he obviously was not in charge of keeping school athletic fields in good shape. While autumn can bring some of the best grass growing weather, when our cool season turf really thrives, it also brings students on the fields for recess, practice, physical education, and games. That can lead to a great amount of compaction and wear and tear. Combine heavy traffic with this year’s drought, and Autumn 2015 promises to be challenging.

Broadleaf weeds such as plantain are tripping hazards.

Broadleaf weeds such as plantain are tripping hazards.

The Child Safe Playing Fields Act was implemented in 2011 to reduce the impact of pesticides on students. While we are confident that we can reduce the impact of insects and weeds on athletic fields with good cultural practices, the Act failed to bolster school budgets, which often do not reflect the need for providing more training for staff, equipment, irrigation, and materials such as fertilizer and seed needed to produce safe fields. Without these resources, weeds, which cannot handle the same traffic as grass, can overtake a field. As the season progresses, these weedy areas become bare, leaving much more slippery and harder patches behind.

 So what is the minimum that should be done now to minimize the likelihood of injury?
  • Mowing -If the grass is growing, mowing should be conducted at least twice a week. Mowing increases shoot density by increasing tillering (stems that develop from the crown of the parent plant). More tillers means more traction and cushioning.
  • Fertilizing -Apply 1 pound of 50% water soluble nitrogen per 1,000 sq. ft. in September and ½ pound of 100% water soluble nitrogen in mid-October. Note – if you do not have irrigation, it is worth waiting until the day before rain is predicted to ensure the fertilizer is watered in.
  • Overseeding -Seed perennial rye at 2 pounds per 1,000 sq. ft. weekly in high-use areas. The athletes’ cleats will make the necessary seed to soil contact. Again, this year’s drought makes this practice tricky. If you can borrow irrigation equipment, do so.
What if I can do more than the minimum?
This school soccer field is mostly crabgrass, which starts to decline just as the season begins.

This school soccer field is mostly crabgrass, which starts to decline just as the season begins.

  • Watering -Maintain adequate soil moisture but keep surfaces dry to maximize traffic tolerance. Irrigate if you can see your foot prints after walking on the turf.
  • Fertilizing -Conduct a soil test to see if other nutrients are needed in addition to the nitrogen.
  • Cultivating -Concentrating on high-use areas, solid tine cultivate in multiple directions to maintain infiltration of air and water.
  • Overseeding -Have a mixture of one part seed to ten parts soil available so coaches and players can repair divots left after heavy use.

For more information on maintaining safe, functional athletic fields, visit http://safesportsfields.cals.cornell.edu. You will find different maintenance schedules based on number of seasons used and resources available, detailed information on different management practices, and information on “Duty of Care”, a legal obligation to a standard of reasonable care.

Safe Sports Fields Management website

Are you struggling with bare spots, weeds, and grubs in your athletic fields? There is a new resource to help!

Safe Sports Fields ManagementThe Safe Sports Fields Management website brings you the latest best management practices for managing sports fields and resources for all who care for and use sports fields.

For the grounds manager, there is information on such topics as:

  • soils
  • grass varieties
  • routine care including assessing the field, mowing, fertilizing, overseeding, and more
  • pests
  • synthetic turf

The website goes beyond the basics, however. There are sections specifically for coaches and athletic directors, whose decisions can greatly impact the turfgrass quality and safety of the fields. Administrators are not left out, with their own page highlighting risk management. Not to be missed is the the video of Cornell Turfgrass Extension Specialist Frank Rossi’s presentation on Duty of Care.

Sports Field Management Schedule

General seasonal management schedules are available for high, medium, or minimal management fields serving spring, fall, spring and fall, or year round sports.

A highlight of the website is the inclusion of management schedules. These schedules, divided by field use and expectations, provide clear guidelines for the minimum management practices that must take place to maintain safe fields. The schedules can be used for not only for planning, budgeting, and scheduling, but are also valuable communication tools useful for justifying the need for resources.

The site was developed by the Cornell Turfgrass team with input from Cornell Cooperative Extension colleagues and sports turf grounds managers from across New York State. Funding was provided by the Community IPM Initiative of the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program to support New York State schools in implementing the Child Safe Fields Playing Act.