Pollinating insects perform a valuable service for both flowering plants and people - their work is vital to our food supply. In recent years, however, populations of these insects have experienced a frightening decline due to factors including insecticide exposure.1

Some might ask what this issue has to do with turf health management. After all, turf itself does not bloom. However, as managers responsible for turf care know, flowering weeds do grow in turf areas, attracting pollinating insects to these areas. So with this issue in the spotlight, managers need to be aware of the latest turf health conservation best practices aimed at also protecting and improving the health of pollinator populations.

One practice involves shifting the timing of preventative insecticide applications. These usually take place between March and June, when flowering weeds are blooming. Unfortunately, these blooms attract pollinators, which might then be exposed to harmful insecticides. One suggestion from the 2016 National Pollinator Summit for the Development of Best Management Practices to Protect Pollinators in Turf is to delay preventative insecticide applications until May or June and to avoid applying insecticides in the middle of the day when pollinators are usually most active.1 This purposeful delay in application does increase the risk for infestation, so turf managers and landscape teams must be vigilant for signs of damage.

Another best practice suggestion is for turf managers to implement an integrated pest management (IPM) system. According to Peter Landschoot, associate professor of turfgrass science at Pennsylvania State University College of Agricultural Sciences, an IPM system involves a more efficient use of pesticides and “incorporates all suitable control techniques to keep pest damage below an established threshold level. The use of IPM strategies should result in effective pest control with minimal impact on the environment and on people.”2

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The “established threshold level” is determined by the turf manager, and is a benchmark for the level of pest damage that would be considered tolerable for turf grounds. Playability and usability are the key factors in determining what level of turf damage would be considered tolerable. For example, the surface of a putting green can greatly influence the roll of a ball and the outcome of a game, whereas the grass on a fairway has less effect on an airborne tee shot. Therefore, the threshold level for golf putting greens is generally lower than the level for fairways.2

While turf managers might be primarily focused on playability and usability when it comes to an IPM system, they also recognize that aesthetics are an important part of turf management. For turf in stress or suffering damage from infestation, SensiPro™ Green Links turf colorant from Sensient® is an innovative solution that can enhance aesthetics by providing even, long-lasting color with a single-pass spray application. These focused blends of carefully selected pigments are darker in appearance, to deliver high-definition results that help minimize the visual effect of turf infestation. Plus, they are safe for the environment, people, and wildlife, including pollinators.

Learn more about how SensiPro™ Green Links can improve the healthy appearance of your turf, or contact us to discuss your specific application.

1. Larson, J., Held, D., Williamson, R. Best Management Practices for Turf Care and Pollinator Conservation. Publication developed during the National Pollinator Summit for The Development of Best Management Practices to Protect Pollinators in Turf, August 2016.

2. Landschoot, P. (2018). Developing an Integrated Turfgrass Pest Management Program. Retrieved August 6, 2018, from PennState College of Agricultural Sciences Department of Plant Science Web Site: https://plantscience.psu.edu/research/centers/turf/extension/factsheets/itpm-program