Study finds reduction in the number of fertilised acres on US golf courses


Study finds reduction in the number of fertilised acres on US golf courses
Sean Dudley
By Sean Dudley

The rates at which nutrients are being used and the number of acres being fertilised by golf course superintendents have seen a marked decrease in the US, according to a new study.

The study was conducted by the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA) and funded by the United States Golf Association through the GCSAA’s Environmental Institute for Golf.

Comparing totals from 2006 and 2014, the study gathered information and samples from 1,500 golf course superintendents. These were then independently analysed by scientists at PACE Turf and the National Golf Foundation, who made the findings available for peer review before going public.

As well as finding a reduction in fertiliser usage, the study found that golf course superintendents cut back most dramatically on phosphate fertilisers, which are one of the three main nutrients used to manage turf.

A reduction of 53 per cent in phosphate fertiliser use was noted between 2006 to 2014, with a particularly noticeable decline in the Northeast and North Central regions of the US.

Lower amounts of potash and nitrogen are also being used according to the study, with reductions of 42 per cent and 34 per cent respectively. This has resulted in a drop of more than 80,000 tons of nitrogen, phosphate and potash fertiliser use each year.

“This study shows us that the golf industry is doing more with less when it comes to nutrient use on golf courses,” said Wendy Gelernter, co-owner of PACE Turf. “The numbers show that golf course superintendents have reduced nutrient use across the board with positive results. Conservation practices accounted for about 90 per cent of the reduction in nutrient use.”

“Golf course superintendents are committed to their role as environmental stewards,” said Rhett Evans, CEO of GCSAA. “This national study further demonstrates our commitment to monitor resources used and willingness to implement change for the betterment of the environment.”