Friday, February 24, 2012

Turf Short Course

I attended one day of the Turf Short Course in Louisville yesterday.  As it turned out, I went to sessions on Landscapes, but came away with some very interesting info.

Steve Higgins presented on water quality and how what landscape professionals do affects our water supply:
  • We all live downstream.
  • KY has over 7000 impaired streams (2010)
  • Test your soil, don't guess.  Only put down the nutrients that are deficient.  Over fertilizing with phosphorus and nitrogen are huge problems, creating dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Landowners with streams or creeks or ponds -- establish no mow areas around them.  Mowing close to water's edge destabilizes the soil and allows tons of sediment erosion.  For ponds, this leads to a dying or fast-aging pond.
  • He argues that in subdivisions, just about all areas (even grassy areas) are impervious to water.  Compaction of soil during construction is a huge issue.  Also, contractors regularly bury construction debris.  
  • To reduce runoff, the UK Hospital has created a rooftop garden, very cool.
  • Buy only the pesticides you need.  If your pesticide storage areas are overflowing, get rid of unused or old pesticides by calling the KY Dept of Agriculture's Pesticide Division.
Lynn Rushing presented a wonderful presentation on ponds:
  • Ponds go through natural cycles each year.
  • Ponds, especially those near subdivisions, are the trash cans for the entire area -- pesticide and fertilizer runoff all collects in ponds.  Sediments collect there as well.
  • Healthy pond has good digestion of organic matter -- each year, 1 to 5" of muck accumulate if the pond is not digesting well.
  • Ponds should not be swimming pools -- it's an ecosystem unto itself.  Many life forms share the space and we must respect them all.
  • Algae are very common problems in ponds when the ecosystem is out of balance.  If you use a herbicide to kill 100% of the algae all at once, you will get a fish kill.
  • To manage algae, dredging helps, but only one part of the solution
  • To manage algae, bottom aeration is a great help because it's basically constant dredging.
  • Ponds die every 12 years or so.
  • Canada geese are terrible pests -- one goose can produce 1200# of poop each year, 8 produce as much as a cow.
  • Mallard ducks are wonderful additions to ponds because they eat algae and pond weeds, plus their poop actually inhibits algal growth!  Amazing.
  • Aeration is key, bottom aeration is best, fountains are just for show.  Oxygenating the pond prevents anaerobic digestion and bad odors.  They should even during the winter.
  • Grass carp eat crass, not algae or pond weeds that indicate a healthy pond -- they actually can increase algae growth
  • If you see blue or black lumpy globs of algae, these could be TOXIC.  Cows, horses, dogs can be killed.
Hope you find this as interesting as I do.  Good conference.

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