Turfgrass, environmental and water conservation experts recently gathered at Michigan State University for a panel discussion examining the science and application sides of turf management in a water sensitive environment at Rain Bird’s Intelligent Use of Water Summit XIII: “Play on! Water Issues in Today’s Sport Turf Environment.”
Presented in partnership by Rain Bird and the Michigan Turfgrass Foundation (MTF) at Michigan State University, the morning-long summit featured brief presentations followed by a series of expert panel discussions on the topics of water quality, turfgrass science, irrigation design and sports/turf course design as it relates to efficient water use in the green industry.
“Water problems are spreading to places that haven’t had them before. At the same time, the issue should not be viewed as a global crisis, but rather a series of local crises that may or may not be necessarily interconnected, “said Charles Fishman, New York Times best-selling author of the book, The Big Thirst who delivered the events keynote address. “I believe we are in a transition from an era of unlimited abundance water to an era of smart water use, where people have a better understanding of the value of water and use the right amount of water at the right price.”
Serving as Summit panelists were: Dr. Ali Harivandi, University of California Cooperative, Extension Area Specialist; Shawn Emerson, Director of Agronomy, Desert Mountain Club; Dr. Stacy Bonos, Associate Professor, Rutgers Turfgrass Institute; Kenny Mangum, Director of Golf Courses and Grounds, Atlanta Athletic Club; Mike Boekholder, Head Groundskeeper, Philadelphia Phillies; Carol Colein, Executive Director, ASIC; Murray Cook, President, Brickman Sports Turf; Mitchell Langley, Owner, MDL Consulting; JonI Allan, Director, Michigan Office of the Great Lakes; and Greg Lyman, Environmental Programs Director, GCSAA.
Speaking to an audience of green industry veterans and turf management students, the panelists specifically addressed the discussion topics of water quality, turfgrass science, irrigation design and sports/turf course design from both a scientific and application perspective.
In addressing the group of turf management students in today’s audience, Shawn Emerson said, “As technology continues to change the resources that we all have at our fingertips, future turf managers can not lose sight of the importance of observation, learning to recognize the signs of change, and adapting accordingly.”
“Our job is to make sure we have a complete understanding of every square foot of the turf area that we manage, without a doubt, the two most important business tools available to turf managers are their eyes, ” added Ken Magnum.
“Drought has become a part of our life, and the survival of the green industry depends on the ability to find alternative sources of water,” said Dr. Harivandi.
Mike Boekholder, head groundskeeper for the Philadelphia Phillies stressed the importance of smart planning and design. “Whether it is a golf course, little league or major league facility, the turf design should be dictated by the available watering window, if you only have a limited amount of time each day to apply water and conduct field maintenance, then the irrigation system design needs to be able to efficiently deliver the right amount of water in a limited amount of time,” said Boekholder.
GCSAA Environmental Programs Director, Greg Lyman said, “The golf industry has to be leaders in conservation and efficient water use, and there is no better place to take a leadership stance than in a state where we have a seemingly abundant supply of water.”
“We [Michigan] are a water rich state, but there are still areas of limited availability, areas of conflict and areas of strife over water, ” said Jon Allan. “The Great Lakes represent 20% of the World’s fresh water supply, meaning that we have a deep and binding obligation to be stewards of water. The lakes are not independent entities, but rather an interconnected system that therefore needs to be managed as a system”
“It is clear that the future of successful turf management will hinge on the confluence of scientific research and the real world application of principles by green industry professionals,” said Dave Johnson, Rain Bird’s Corporate Marketing Director. “It is very encouraging to see a mix of veteran green industry professionals and turf management students in this mornings audience. It is forums like these where we aim to provide a platform for future turf managers to learn from industry veterans and prepare to enter an industry that is changing to better address the need for environmental and water conservation, while still preserving our green spaces.”
Established in 2004 as a forum to further define the relationship between water conservation and outdoor water use, The Intelligent Use of Water Summit series presents a view on the current and future state of water resources through the eyes of water conservation and environmental experts. Previous summit locations have included: Pasadena, Calif.; Tucson, Ariz.; Tempe, Ariz.; Madrid, Spain; Aix-en-Provence, France; Melbourne, Australia; Washington DC and Fresno, Calif.