While the NYS BMP Committee is hard at work formulating BMPs for pollinator protection on the state’s golf courses, an increasing amount of information is available to help golf course superintendents protect pollinators by minor modifications to management regimes and to enhance habitat to help sustain pollinator populations. Selected publications and websites are briefly described below:
- New York State Integrated Pest Management, Cornell University IPM program web page with resources specific to pollinators and related links to additional information.
- Pollinator Network @ Cornell. Listing of pollinator-related publications and information.
- New York State Pollinator Protection Plan NYS DEC publication that includes an overview of the issues related to pollinator species (both managed bees and wild species), guidance for state agencies, and BMPs relevant to superintendents (Appendices C: Landowner/Grower BMPs and D: Pesticide User BMPs).
- Ecoregional pollinator-friendly planting guides Pollinator Partnership web site that provides regional plant guides of native plants, including trees, shrubs, annual and perennials specifically used by pollinators. Also includes a description of the types of nesting sites/materials by pollinator types.
- NYS BMP YouTube Channel. The home of the NYS BMP program videos. Currently featuring a 4-part case study of enhancing pollinator habitat on a golf course on Long Island.
- List of beekeeper organizations in New York State
- Best Management Practices for Turf Care and Pollinator Conservation: Fast Facts, published by the North Central IPM Center, this two page publication summarizes the longer version of the Best Management Practices for Turf Care and Pollinator Conservation publication by the same authors.
- Making Room for Native Pollinators This USGA publication provides the basics of pollinator biology useful for pesticide applicators; detailed information on creating foraging habitat and bee nesting habitat and man-made nest sites specifically on golf courses.
- Specialist bees of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern United States, Published by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation and United States Geological Society, this publication lists host plants preferred by northeast bee species.
The NYS BMP project created a case study video series on protecing pollinators at Rockville Links Club in the midst of urbanized Long Island. Watch the video series to see how golf course superintendent Lucas Knutson used opportunities to renovate non-play areas on the course with pollinators in mind and the BMPs he follows to protect them. He has also introduced bee hives in two locations on the course and provides insight into communicating with potential concerns from club members.
A playlist has been created that organizes the four part case study series. An introduction provides an overview of the case study as well as BMPs for pollinators that superintendents can implement to protect both managed bees and native pollinators. Parts 1-3 provide more information on enhancing habitat on the golf course to support pollinator populations as well as experience in communicating these efforts to club members.
Water enters hydrologic systems as precipitation, primarily in the form of rainfall or snowmelt. It is then delivered to surface waters from runoff or infiltrates into the subsurface. The amount of water that infiltrates into the ground versus becoming runoff depends on a number of variables, including the intensity of precipitation or irrigation, soil infiltration capacity, site characteristics, antecedent soil moisture, and season. The following are some of the seasonal changes in runoff versus infiltration potential:
During the winter, soils in New York are likely to be frozen and impermeable to water. Snowmelt, rain, and low evapotranspiration rates in the spring generate wet soil conditions and downward movement of water to groundwater. The potential for runoff is high because the near-saturated or partially frozen soils have low water infiltration capacities.
During the summer, high rates of evaporation and plant water uptake may reduce soil water storage, leaving none to percolate downward. Summer rains only partially recharge the soil profile, and the soil’s moisture holding capacity is typically not exceeded. Except for high-intensity thunderstorms, runoff and erosion potentials are generally low during the summer.
In the late fall, evapotranspiration rates decrease, and groundwater recharge occurs when the moisture-holding capacity of the soil is exceeded. Runoff and erosion potentials also increase during this period. However, in New York, runoff from turf most often occurs from wet soils and not from high rainfall intensity.
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Few would argue that knowledge of the soils you are managing is a critical aspect of successful golf turf management. Soil management begins with knowing the type and characteristics of the soil at your property. Fortunately, most of the data we need is easy to access and interpret. The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) Web Soil Survey (WSS) provides soil data and access to the largest natural resource information system in the world.
Of course, once you know the soil types and characteristics, soil testing allows for precise nutrient management programs for all nutrients other nitrogen as it can be used to determine nutrient levels, make fertilizer recommendations, and in some cases diagnose the cause of poor performing turf. Assessing the existing reservoir of available nutrients in the soil can minimize the need for supplemental applications of fertilizer, which saves money while protecting the environment. Learn what you need to know about soil testing: http://nysgolfbmp.cals.cornell.edu/soil-testing/.
Pollinators are in trouble all over this country, including New York State, with documented significant declines in population levels. However, because golf courses provide a large expanse of mostly undeveloped land, they can help pollinators by providing habitat. These undeveloped expanses of land are of special significance especially in urbanized /suburbanized areas of the state that may not have expansive open areas.
The NYS BMP program has conducted a case study of the Rockville Links Club on Long Island where superintendent Lucas Knutson has renovated three areas on the golf course with pollinators in mind as well as adding bee hives to the golf course. These case studies (both written and video) show how Knutson established native areas, utilizes best management practices to protect pollinators, and how these efforts have been communicated to club members.
At Rockville Links, BMPs to protect pollinators from any impact from pesticide applications include:
- scouting, to determine pest location, movement, and overall pest pressure;
- product selection and selecting an effective product with low toxicity to bees and short residual toxicity;
- timing applications so as not to apply pesticides to blooming plants when bees might be present and mowing before applications; and
- watering in pesticides to drive product into the roots for uptake, unless the label indicates otherwise.
The NYS BMP program will be adding more information on BMPs for protecting pollinators and enhancing habitat to this web site later this year. In the meantime, additional BMPs for pollinators are detailed in the New York State Pollinator Protection Plan, http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/administration_pdf/nyspollinatorplan.pdf.
Since publication of the NYS BMP guidelines, the BMP committee has focused on outreach and education efforts to promote the acceptance and implementation of BMPs in New York State’s golf industry. As part of these efforts, the state’s golf course professionals were surveyed last year to conduct a formative assessment of BMP concepts and a survey of BMPs as implemented on NYS golf courses.
The results were analyzed by Cornell University to determine educational and outreach priorities for our target audience of NYS superintendents and assistant superintendents. The following PDFs provide more detail on the analysis and the detailed responses to each question for both the quiz and survey:
- Formative Assessment of BMP Concepts on New York State Golf Courses
- Survey of Implemented Best Management Practices on New York State Golf Courses
- Detailed quiz questions and answers
- Detailed survey questions and answers
The NYS BMP quiz and survey will be available again in late 2017 and early 2018. Look for notices in the fall and plan to participate in this process.