We asked representatives from turf nutrition companies: When it comes to soil management, do most superintendents understand the importance of feeding the soil to help achieve vigorous turfgrass?

Christopher S. Gray Sr. | LebanonTurf, Golf Marketing Manager for Professional Fertilizers
Yes. Golf course superintendents understand the complex relationship between soil fertility and plant nutrition that’s responsible for optimum turf performance. You don’t need to look beyond the widespread practices of soil and tissue testing. These commonly used tools by superintendents provide a scientific foundation to evaluate how one is affecting the other on the different areas of their golf courses. Since granular fertilizers feed the plant through the soil, proper soil testing provides a window into what’s actually happening below the turf and provides them with an understanding of how that’s directly affecting to what they’re seeing above ground.

Bill Fair | N-Vizion Products Group’s Progressive Turf, Owner
Because golf course tees and greens are often not “soil” in the traditional sense of the word, there has been a tendency to focus on the growing medium’s physical characteristics more than its biological components. That’s a mistake that more and more superintendents are recognizing and addressing. The turfgrass plant is living in a very complex environment with multiple symbiotic relationships. Feeding the foliage and roots of the plant without regard to the health and vitality of the soil isn’t sustainable. Experience is the best teacher. And, as more and more superintendents see the benefits of using organic-based materials and caring for the soil microsphere, sustainability quickly becomes second nature to them.

Brian Galbraith | Humate International, President For our customers, the short answer is absolutely yes. I’m sure many superintendents have figured this out over the years, but we learned the importance of a healthy soil from the very first test work done with our HUMATE more than 25 years ago and “feed the soil” has become our mantra. Our customers know a healthy soil needs to include a high-energy organic material for soil microorganisms to work with and a balanced, active microbial population to work with this material. With these in place, disease and insect activity are suppressed and a superintendent needs only a small amount of support for his plant/soil system.

John Pope | The Andersons, Humic Business Development Manager
Globally, U.S. turfgrass science brings the newest innovations and technology to turfgrass management. In relation to soil health, other areas of the golf world have a greater awareness of “soil feeding” as a key aspect in producing quality turf. Outside the U.S., turf managers are limited in available turf control products as a key management tool. The concept, “feeding the soil as well as the foliage,” is a primary turf management tool because of those limitations. Soil health is an underutilized concept in U.S. turf management. Turf managers have emphasized managing the turf canopy nutritionally. The recent increase in demands being placed on golf course turf by the playing public and improved soil nutritional products have caused revitalized interest in soil health as a management tool. Soil health is the foundation for plant health.

Joel Simmons | President, EarthWorks
Absolutely, because it works every single time. A healthy soil improves water-holding capacity, nutrient mobility and provides the superintendent the piece of mind to know that the property will not suffer from the extremes of the weather and the environment. In the early 1990s, we coined the phrase “carbon-based fertility” to help superintendents understand that it’s the feeding process that allows microbes to work at their optimum capacity.