The NYS Department of Health has organized a website with extensive information on school environmental health, defined as the way the physical environment of school buildings and school grounds influences the overall health and safety of occupants. The key role that IPM plays in protecting school children and staff is prominent and includes resources from the NYS IPM Program. If you have not visited the site in a while, check it out at https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/indoors/healthy_schools/index.htm
“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.
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?
- 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.
Although beautiful in flight and valued as a symbol of the wild, Canada Geese frequenting school grounds, including athletic fields, are a growing concern.
Come and learn 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.
Seminar fee of $15 to cover refreshments and lunch. To register, please contact by July 28, Patti Ogden (firstname.lastname@example.org). For more information, contact Craig Hansen (Craig Hansen (CHansen@questar.org) or Lynn Braband (LAB45@cornell.edu).
August 4, 2015, 11:00 – 4:00
Questar III BOCES, 10 Empire State Blvd., Castleton-On-Hudson, NY 12033 – Directions
11:00 – 11:30 Registration
11:30 – 11:45 Introduction to the seminar – Lynn Braband, NYS IPM Program
11:45 – 12:00 Break for working lunch
12:00 – 1:15 Basic biology of Canada Geese (including human health concerns) & goose problem management (short-term & long-term) – Paul Curtis, Cornell University’s Department of Natural Resources
1:15 – 2:00 Regulations associated with managing goose problems – Ken Preusser, USDA Wildlife Services
2:00 – 2:15 Break
2:15 – 3:00 Turf management and geese – Joellen Lampman, NYS IPM Program of Cornell University, and David Chinery, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rensselaer Co.
3:00 – 3:30 Sharing your experiences & concerns – Including goose dog demonstration
3:30 – 4:00 Wrap-up & Evaluation
Join the NYS IPM Program of Cornell University and Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES for a seminar on implementing integrated pest management on school grounds. Emphases will include managing quality athletic fields in light of the Child Safe Playing Field Act, developing school IPM policies, and pest situations such as weeds, grubs, stinging insects, and geese.
There is no fee for the workshop, but pre-registration is requested. Contact Kelly Wasson of Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES at email@example.com or 315-597-3469.
Canandaigua CSD Operations Center, 5500 Airport Rd., Canandaigua, NY 14424
7:30 – 8:00 Registration
8:00 – 8:45 Developing School IPM Policies – Lynn Braband, NYS IPM Program
8:45 – 9:30 Regulatory Update – Kelly Wasson, Wayne-Finger Lakes BOCES
9:30 -9:45 Break
9:45 -11:15 Managing Your Athletic Fields & School Grounds in Light of the Child Safe Playing Field – Jennifer Grant, NYS IPM Program
11:15 – 12:00 Managing Stinging Insects & Geese on School Grounds – Lynn Braband, NYS IPM Program
Our Best Management Practices for School website holds a lot of practical help for anyone who wants to increase their knowledge of IPM. This post focuses on Indoor IPM and includes the links to:
An Ounce of Prevention: IPM for Schools and Childcare. A resource for staff and parents, because everyone has a role in pest reduction.
Air Quality and IPM– Asthma Concerns from EPA Asthma is the most chronic illness affecting children.
Asthma and Cleaning Products: What workers need to know Cleaning products can cause breathing problems in custodians and other staff, as well as students.
BMPS for Indoor Non-Food Areas Here’s a checklist for yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily practices to reduce the chance of pests in areas such as boiler rooms, locker rooms, gymnasiums.
BMPs for Kitchens, Cafeterias and Storage Areas A checklist for custodians, administrators and food service staff. Number 1 on the list: An IPM policy is in place that gives specific plans of action to both deal with pests, and to improve pest management
Cockroach Identification It does make a difference, you know…
Introduction to IPM for School Faculty. Here’s an easy way to spread the word!
University of California IPM: Green cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting, A Curriculum for Early Care and Education
IPM Poster for Custodians