2020-21 Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Fund Grant in cooperation with NYSTA:
Task 1: How Create a Facility BMP Plan – Video Series
Prioritizing, documenting, and implementing BMPs is an important step for superintendents to demonstrate their commitment to natural resource protection at their facilities. Although the facility BMP template is available to the state’s superintendents via the GCSAA’s on-line tool, additional efforts need to be undertaken to encourage and assist superintendents to utilize this resource. Therefore, this task will provide superintendents the opportunity and guidance for creating their own facility BMP using available resources.
We have created a series of short tutorial videos designed to introduce superintendents to the facility BMP template and help guide them through the development process, as opposed to conducting in-person workshops. We have incorporated the following content into the videos:
- a short review of the importance of BMPs and introduction to the BMP template.
- 14 short videos with detailed instruction on using the GCSAA on-line tool.
- providing individualized assistance to superintendents as needed during the development of their BMP document.
Task 2: Publications (2): Using Predictive Models to Reduce Pesticide Use and Bentgrass Conversion in Fairways
Publication 1: Using Predictive Models to Reduce Pesticide Use
Due to concerns by regulatory agencies and the general public over health issues related to pesticide usage, the demand for “Championship” conditions from golfers, and budget constraints imposed by management, golf course superintendents in New York continue to operate under extreme scrutiny. These various concerns have driven the development of sophisticated weather-based disease warning systems. Predictive modeling systems allow for more accurately timed fungicide applications which result in better disease control while using less fungicide. This publication focuses on educating superintendents on how to use a predictive model for determining pesticide applications for controlling dollar spot, a season long turf pest.
Publication 2: Bentgrass Conversion in Fairways
Fairways account for the most acreage of finely maintained turfgrass on golf courses, which require significantly more pesticide inputs than any other area on golf courses. In New York, many golf courses have a mixture of various turfgrass varieties on their fairways. However, bentgrass has proven to require fewer pesticide inputs than other common fairway turfgrasses such as Poa annua. In this publication, we demonstrate to superintendents the benefits of converting fairways to bentgrass and the steps needed to achieve this conversion.
Publication development, written by scientists, included review by superintendents. Five hundred copies of each publication have been printed and are being distributed to NYS superintendents. The publications are also available on the NYS BMP website as a Flipping Book and a downloadable PDF. The availability of the publication are/will be promoted through the strategic communication efforts detailed in Task 3 of this review.
Task 3: Strategic Communication
The NYGCF website was substantially redesigned in 2016 and updated in 2020 with the 2nd edition of BMPs utilizing TESF funding. The updated dynamic design includes features such as a; blog page; sign up form; and updatable front page feature stories. To maintain a dynamic style that will continue to attract visitors, the content must be frequently updated, primarily via new blog and vlog posts.
During this grant period, we published 6 new video log (vlog) posts on the website and BMP YouTube channel, in cooperation with Cornell University. We utilize the Twitter feed (@NYS_GolfBMP) to communicate the availability of these new vlog posts, along with tweets to direct readers to existing content, using Twitter scheduling software. The Twitter feed helps to generate interest and attract visits to the website.
In addition to the social media-related efforts, we also reprinted 500 copies of the following previously TESF grant funded publications:
- nutrient Management publication
- ABW publication
- pollinator BMP publication
- fact sheet series 5 fact sheets
- graphically designed folders
We combined all the publications, including those developed in Task 2, as well as the fact sheets, together in the folders. These are available to the New York GCSAA affiliated chapters, Cornell University, and New York State Turfgrass Association as needed to disseminate this information and promote the NYS BMP efforts
Task 4: Creating a Nutrient Management Plan- Video
Nutrient management plans can help prevent nutrient enrichment (i.e. nitrogen and phosphorus) of the state’s water resources. Increased legislative and regulatory attention on fertilizer sources of nutrients may in the future result in requirements for superintendents to develop site-specific nutrient management plans. Therefore, we produced a nutrient management planning video that provides detailed guidance for superintendents to develop a simple nutrient management plan. Equally important to a step-by-step approach to plan development, this video will help superintendents use nutrient management planning as comprehensive tool in planning fertilizer selections and application strategies to optimize plant responses, nutrient use efficiency, and economics.
The tutorial is a 10.5 minute professionally produced video, published on the NYGCF BMP Youtube channel, already home to a previous video case study on the TESF-funded wash pad demonstration, ABW video, and a Cornell-funded pollinator video case study.
Task 5: New York Golf Course Foundation Strategic Plan Update
The New York State golf course BMP efforts began a decade ago with an initial planning meeting that set out the first objective: to create a framework and process for developing science-based best management practices to protect water quality in the state. However, publishing the BMPs in February of 2014 was only the first step in a process that requires sustained effort to increase awareness and implementation of these BMPs. Over time it became apparent that expanding the BMPs to meet emerging needs, such as protecting pollinators, would be required as these needs were identified. To achieve these goals, the NYS BMP project developed a strategic plan in 2016 that has provided a framework and direction for decision-making, in addition to communicating the vision and purpose of the project for the last five years.
This task facilitates the five-year review and update of the strategic plan to provide a roadmap for the next five years for the NYGCF. We have evaluated the effectiveness of certain elements within the first strategic plan, discussed the future efforts needed to continue increasing awareness of the BMPs, educational opportunities, and expanding the BMP program to encompass a variety of environmental services that can be provided by golf courses. By continuously evaluating the foundation’s strategic vision, golf course superintendents will increasingly and ultimately be recognized as stewards of the state’s natural resources. In addition, by increasing the visibility of the foundation’s efforts, superintendents are increasingly consulted by regulators and lawmakers at the state and local level in advance of any discussion of future regulation of the industry.
2021-22 Turfgrass Environmental Stewardship Fund Grant in cooperation with NYSTA
Task 1: Connect to Protect Tour, New York – Video, Twitter, Media, Blog Communication and Outreach Series
Prioritizing, documenting, and implementing BMPs is an important step for superintendents to demonstrate their commitment to natural resource protection at their facilities. Although the facility BMP template is available to the state’s superintendents via the GCSAA’s on-line tool, additional efforts need to be undertaken to encourage superintendents to utilize this resource. Therefore, this task will promote the adoption and use of BMPs at the facility level. To accomplish this goal, we have created a series of short videos designed to raise awareness and promote facility Golf BMPs. We incorporated content into our communications such as the importance of facility adoption of Golf BMPs and provide examples of Golf BMPs currently in use at golf courses in NY state. Each site visit resulted in 5-10 minutes of edited video content. A key aspect of this promotional effort is creating a unique element of interest by using a bicycle to travel around the state. The 3-week tour from Bedford, NY to Buffalo, NY and back utilized the Empire State Trail. This tour included a trip to Long Island where course visits produced 2 BMP videos. Content from this tour has been used and promoted in various forms, including educational seminars and Twitter posts. The information contained within the videos culled from this tour do not have a shelf life, therefore, the foundation will be able to use and promote the video content in perpetuity.
Task 2: Communication and Outreach at Regional GCSAA Chapter Meetings
There are currently five regional GCSAA chapter superintendent associations within the state of New York. Continuing communication and outreach programs to promote the value of BMPs and related educational tools available for the golf course superintendent members of these associations remains a priority in New York. Direct, in-person connections remain a vital component in our ability to fulfill this ongoing need. For this task, we visited each superintendent association which would allowed for an opportunity to address attendees individually and/or as an undivided group. We focused our message on the importance of adopting Golf BMPs at their facility and utilizing the educational tools developed by the NYGCF. Due to the Covid19 pandemic, two of the meetings were held via online video platforms.
Task 3: Honeybee Evaluation Program
The Pollinator BMP has been a critical addition to the Golf BMPs. For this task, we looked to broaden our Pollinator BMP initiative by starting to explore the impact golf has on honeybees.
It is important to note that this was not a scientific study but rather a starting point to explore, anecdotally, the relationship between golf and pollinators, with the possibility of creating momentum for future scientific pollinator initiatives to be conducted at golf courses around the state of New York.
The goals of this project were multifaceted. Our primary goal is to use this evaluation as a promotional piece for the NY golf industry to use when speaking to industry outsiders e.g., lawmakers, environmental types, and regulators about what golf in NY is doing for the environment, specifically, as it relates to voluntarily helping New York’s pollinator populations. The results of this program create an opportunity to show doubters how the NY golf course industry is adding value to communities beyond golf, by providing a safe habitat for pollinators. Additionally, some golf course superintendents are hesitant to implement a honeybee program at their facility because they fear the negative repercussions of a possible failed program due to pesticide poisoning. The perception that implementing a honeybee program on a golf course is risky is unsubstantiated. Therefore, a secondary goal of this task was to minimize the concern some golf course superintendents perceive as a risk by conveying to them the minimal risk and high value of creating a honeybee program at their facility. This goal will be achieved over time, but the data recovered from the testing indicates there is potential social benefit by encouraging golf courses to develop a honeybee program and that golf facility managers should not fear implementing a honeybee program at their facility based only on public perception.
To achieve our objectives, we used existing hives at golf facilities who currently have an active bee program. In order to represent the state regionally, we used locations from various regions around the state, including Long Island, Westchester County, Hudson Valley and Central New York. Our limiting factor in this evaluation process was the timing of the grant approval. Because of the nature of the grant’s start and end period, we were not able to conduct our initial sampling process in the spring, when the pollinators, plants and insecticide chemical applications are are at their busiest. However, we were able to achieve our primary goal of initiating a relationship with several golf courses around the state of New York and to use this analysis as a starting point for developing future, more complex and revealing research studies. The conclusion of this study is represented in a written summary report which is found on the NYGCF website. The summary will be continually promoted via the NYGCF Twitter feed and the NYGCF will reference the summary of this study in conversations with state lawmakers and regulators. Golf facilities will be encouraged to utilize this study when considering whether or not to implement a honeybee program at their course.
Task 4: Develop a Water Quality Testing Program – Video
As our society continues to place greater importance on water quality, strict adherence to established water quality standards are becoming more relevant to golf course superintendents around the state. In the future, it is likely that golf courses will be required to adhere to established water quality standards via water testing. It makes sense that superintendents should understand the water quality testing process and be able to speak intelligently about such programs. Therefore, we produced a “how to develop a water quality testing program” video that provides related detailed guidance for superintendents. The tutorial is a 5-minute video, published on the NYGCF BMP Youtube channel, already home to TESF-funded educational videos and case studies.
This video focuses on why and how a superintendent should and can develop a meaningful water quality testing program. The video addresses the need for the golf industry to evolve with the cultural shift toward environmentalism in this country. It also identifies water testing as a necessary tool to understand the golf industries environmental impact and how it can help us communicate our fact-based story to non-industry stakeholders. The video also takes the superintendent step by step through the program development process.