By: John Mascaro
Volume 8 Number 1 - January 2002

In this issue:

  1. Editors Notes.
  2. Some New Year's Resolutions for Golf Course Superintendents.
  3. A great book will show the truth to environmental activists.
  4. Divots and you.
  5. Irrigation system monitoring - A step by step guide.
  6. Looking back.
  7. Contributions to this publication.
  8. Privacy policies.

Editor's notes

I know that you get more junk mail by email then by regular mail and I will always strive to make my newsletter informative and interesting. I like to keep my topics fresh and if you have any story ideas or topics, feel free to submit them, they are always welcome.

Lately, this matter of junk emails has really gotten under my skin, take today for instance. First I turned on my computer and jumped through the various hoops it takes to bring this 21st century creature to life. Next you must perform the ritual of logging onto the internet and jumping through the next series of hoops and passwords to finally open your email box only to find that you have 44 messages!

Wow, this is great, I thought to myself, until I start looking over the topics. In a nutshell I had, 1 Virus forwarded by an unsuspecting person that had a worm, 7 jokes from friends and relatives (one was actually worth reading), 2 newsletters and 30 pieces of junk mail. After you remove these above messages, I actually only had four letters that I needed to read and one newsletter that I enjoy. I am sure that you all have the same experiences and that is why I am dedicated to keeping this newsletter fresh and interesting. So for all of you that open my newsletter and read it, thank you, I promise not to ever disappoint you or waste your time.

Some New Year's Resolutions for Golf Course Superintendents.

Now that we have entered a New Year, I want to wish everyone a Happy New Year. I know that new years resolutions are always directed at the general populace, I decided to write some specifically for the golf course superintendent.

Please feel free to add any more resolutions and then cut this out and post it on the wall near your desk.

A great book will show the truth to environmental activists.

This was submitted by Joel D. Jackson, CGCS. It is from a review in the Washington Post called "Measuring the Real State Of the World" by Bjorn Lomborg.

Lomborg challenges and refutes the often misrepresented, misquoted, misdirected "facts" put forth by the environmental activists.

To view the entire article, go to




Measuring the Real State Of the World - By Bjorn Lomborg - Cambridge Univ. 515 pp. $69.95; paperback, $27.95

That the human race faces environmental problems is unquestionable. That environmental experts have regularly tried to scare us out of our wits with doomsday chants is also beyond dispute. In the 1960s overpopulation was going to cause massive worldwide famine around 1980. A decade later we were being told the world would be out of oil by the 1990s. This was an especially chilly prospect, since, as Newsweek reported in 1975, we were in a climatic cooling trend that was going to reduce agricultural outputs for the rest of the century, leading possibly to a new Ice Age.

Bjorn Lomborg, a young statistics professor and political scientist at the University of Aarhus in Denmark, knows all about the enduring appeal for journalists, politicians and the public of environmental doomsday tales, having swallowed more than a few himself. In 1997, Lomborg - a self-described left-winger and former Greenpeace member - came across an article in Wired magazine about Julian Simon, a University of Maryland economist. Simon claimed that the "litany" of the Green movement - its fears about overpopulation, animal species dying by the hour, deforestation was hysterical nonsense, and that the quality of life on the planet was radically improving. Lomborg was shocked by this, and he returned to Denmark to set about doing the research that would refute Simon.

He and his team of academicians discovered something sobering and cheering:

In every one of his claims, Simon was correct. Moreover, Lomborg found on close analysis that the factual foundation on which the environmental doomsayers stood was deeply flawed: exaggeration, prevarications, white lies and even convenient typographical errors had been absorbed unchallenged into the folklore of environmental disaster scenarios.

Lomborg still feels at one with the basic sentiments that underlie the Green movement: that we should strive toward a cleaner, healthier world for everyone, including animals (heís a vegetarian with ethical objections to eating flesh). But his aim in this new catalogue of environmental issues is to counter the gloom with a clear, scientifically based picture of the true state of the Earth and to take a rational view of what we can expect in the next century.

In a massive, meticulously presented argument that extends over 500 pages, supported by nearly 3,000 footnotes and 182 tables and diagrams, Lomborg revisits a number of heartening breakthroughs in the recent life of the planet. Chief among these is the decline of poverty and starvation across the world. Starvation still exists, but there is less of it than ever, as our capacity to produce abundant quantities of food continues to improve. Likewise with other dire scenarios of resource depletion: We are emphatically not running out of energy and mineral resources, the population bomb is fizzling, and, far from killing us, pesticides and chemicals are improving longevity and the quality of life. Neither need we fear anything from the genetic modification of organisms.

Golf courses and sports turf will benefit from this book on the enviornment that dispells myths.For a factual encyclopedia, the book has immense entertainment value, particularly in the way Lomborg traces the urban legends of the Green movement back to their sources. Consider the oft-repeated claim that 40,000 species go extinct every year. Such an annual loss of species, Lomborg points out, would be disaster for the future of life on earth, amounting perhaps to a loss of 25 to 50 percent of all species in the next half century. He manages, however, to locate the source of the story-an off-hand and completely unfounded guess made by a scientist in 1979. Itís been repeated endlessly ever since-and in 1981 was increased by arch-doomsayer Paul Ehrlich to 250,000 species per year. (Ehrlich also predicted that half the planetís species would be extinct by 2000.)

Lomborg brings these unhinged forecasts back down to Earth by reminding us that the only actual scientific documentation for species loss is in United Nations figures, which show an actual loss of between a tenth of a percent and 1 percent of all species for all of the next 50 years. This includes beetles, ants, flies, worms, bacteria and fungi, which make up 99 percent of all species, plus a small but unknown number of mammals and birds. Extinction, Lomborg argues, is a problem to be realistically faced and solved, not a catastrophe to be bewailed.

Or consider deforestation. Itís been claimed that the world has lost two-thirds of its forests since the dawn of agriculture. The real figure, Lomborg shows, is around 20 percent, and this figure has hardly changed since World War II. Tropical forests are declining at a small annual rate of 0.46 percent, but this is offset by growth in commercial plantations, which should be encouraged, as their products take the pressure off the tropical forests. In fact, the worldís wood and paper needs could be permanently satisfied by tree plantations amounting to just 5 percent of the worldís forest cover.

Then thereís waste disposal. Are we really running out of landfill space for our garbage? Lomborg shows how the entire trash-dumping requirements for the United States through the whole of the coming century (assuming the country doubles in population) could be met by a single landfill that measures 100 feet high and 18 miles square. Thatís a lot of trash, but as the total leavings of the increasing U.S. population over a hundred years, it is certainly not unmanageable, and if itís properly dealt with, it need pose no serious pollution threat to air or water.

Speaking of trash, Lomborg favors recycling, but only when it makes sense, and he gives a hilarious analysis of a scheme from Environment magazine to mail used toothbrushes to a plant where they could be recycled as outdoor furniture. This would cost $4 billion to implement for the U.S. population, and thatís without taking into account the costs of the postal system handling a billion packages of new and used toothbrushes annually. The recycling cure can be worse than the consumption disease (though I can imagine the U. S. Postal Service might see this idea as a revenue opportunity).

Many well-intentioned environmental policies can have surprising outcomes:

Suppose minute pesticide residues have the potential to cause cancer in a tiny number of cases - one estimate would have it around 20 cases per annum in the United States (not very many in a country where 300 people drown in bathtubs every year). So we ban the pesticides. This in turn, Lomborg points out, would sharply drive up the price of cancer preventing fruits and vegetables. By reducing consumption, especially among the poor, the pesticide ban in the end would cause more cancer (perhaps 26,000 cases annually) than the pesticides would have caused in the first place. Sometimes, as with toothbrushes, the best thing to do about a "problem" is exactly nothing.

Lomborg enjoys placing what look to be serious environmental issues in a comparative context, which can often cause them to diminish considerably in scale. The Exxon Valdez oil spill was portrayed as a disaster of unparalleled magnitude: For example, it killed 250,000 birds. He shows how the long-term effects of the spill were far less damaging than environmentalists predicted, and also puts the avian mortality claim in perspective: Some 300,000 birds are killed by mammals, mostly cats, in Great Britain every 48 hours, and 250,000 birds die from striking plate glass in homes and offices in the United States every 24 hours. How could he know that? I wondered myself, so here as elsewhere, I followed Lomborgís claims back through the footnotes, traced the sources for myself, and found them to be sound. In fact, since The Skeptical Environmentalist was published last month in Britain, an army of angry environmentalists has been crawling all over the book, trying to refute it. Lomborgís claims have withstood the attack.

The bookís longest, most detailed chapter is on global warming and the Kyoto Treaty. Lomborg agrees that a warming trend is real but says that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change exaggerates the possible threats and present-day proportions of global warming, while neglecting the benefits of more carbon dioxide in the air and warmer nighttime temperatures. These changes would improve agricultural output in the U.S. and China, and make for vast increases in crop production for Canada and Russia. In any event, Lomborg is promoter of solar energy, which he believes will take over from oil as our major energy source in the next 50 years.

His most stunning conclusion: Even if the Kyoto treaty were fully implemented, it would stave off warming by only about six years- postponing it from 2100 to 2106. So what is the cost to the world economy of this almost invisible benefit we are to bestow on our great-great grandchildren? Anywhere from $80 to $350 billion per annum. Lomborg is very disturbed by these figures, since he sees health improvements as the greatest challenge now facing the human race-especially the enormous gains against disease and poverty that will come from increasing the supply of clean drinking water and the quality of sanitation in the developing world.

The costs of Kyoto for one year could give clean water and sanitation to the whole of the developing world, saving 2 million lives, and keeping half a billion people from serious illness. For future, unknown and perhaps nonexistent benefits, Kyoto would squander money that should be applied right now to real, life-and-death human problems!

Lomborgís calculations are meticulous, his argument compelling: Implementation of the Kyoto Treaty would be an unforgivable mistake.

Lomborgís original inspiration, the radical Julian Simon, was just a bit too far ahead of his time. This bald, vaguely right-wing economist was on the money, but in the late 20th century, with Green mythology ascendant, no one wanted to know. Paul Ehrlich, as reward for being wrong in all his scary predictions about population and the environment, was showered with prizes, including a MacArthur "genius" fellowship. As Simon cheerfully remarked, "I canít even get a McDonaldís." This irrepressible scholar did, however, provoke a young Dane into trying to disprove his claims-a process that led to questioning the factual foundations of the environmental movement itself. Unlike Simon, Lomborg has the correct cultural aura: a young, left-wing European with the looks of a movie star. Simon, who died suddenly in 1998, would have loved to see how things are turning out.

Bjorn Lomborgís good news about the environment is bad news for Green ideologues. His richly informative, lucid book is now the place from which environmental policy decisions must be argued. In fact, The Skeptical Environmentalist is the most significant work on the environment since the appearance of its polar opposite, Rachel Carsonís Silent Spring, in 1962. Itís a magnificent achievement.

Denis Dutton is a professor of philosophy who lectures on the dangers of pseudoscience at the science faculties of the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. He is also editor of the website Arts Letters Daily.

Divots and you.

Compost divot mix heals turf in a hurry

Written by F. Dan Dinelli, CGCS

Fixing fairway divots is a necessary golf course chore that shouldn't have to be done in the first place. It keeps maintenance crews away from more important work for one thing. It also would hardly be a bother if not for the fact that far too many golfers who cause divots fail to replace them.

But at North Shore Country Club in Glenview, Ill., we've come upon a method of repairing divots that benefits both the golf course and the golfing conscience. We now fill divots in our fairways with a compost/seed mix instead of a sand/peat mix.

Obviously, the compost/seed mix helps the turf heal itself much more quickly. But at first I was hesitant because the material is so dark-colored that it makes the divot wounds very visible out on the course. That, however, turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

The dark color created awareness among the golfers, who began to pay attention to the fact that we were spending a lot of time fixing the damage they left behind. It changed their attitudes, and many began being more careful about gouging the turf, as well as replacing and patching the divots they caused. At the same time, our maintenance load lessened.

We were encouraged to try the compost/seed mix method of fixing divots by a golf-oriented compost producer, GreenCycle Inc. of nearby Northfield, Ill., which has composting plants in Illinois and Connecticut. We had been using the company's compost from recycled yard waste as a topdressing after fairway aerating.

There's no doubt the compost is superior to a sand-based divot fill because the compost contains both the necessary nutrients and holds moisture. Even the dark color I disliked so much at first is advantageous because it absorbs the sun's heat better and thus speeds germination during cool weather.

We fix our divots just like before, with workers carrying buckets of the mix (finely screened compost and Providence bentgrass), shoveling it into divots and tamping it down by foot. We're careful to more or less mix as we go because the moisture in the compost can germinate the seed prematurely if a mixed batch is stored more than a week. Also, we've learned to be patient with our mowing in the areas where divots have just been repaired because fresh compost sticks to mower rollers and causes tracking.

The concessions are very slight, really. The bottom line is that we're presenting a better golf course with lower costs for material and labor.

Dan Dinelli is a 12-year member of GCSAA.

Irrigation system monitoring audit - A step by step guide.

Since irrigation monitoring is such a hot topic, and water quality and use is on the forefront of everyone's mind, I decided to give you a quick step by step method of how to perform your own irrigation system monitoring audit.

All these tests should be performed when no rainfall has occurred within the past 48 hours to remove the variable of the soil being artificially high in water. In addition, rainfall will affect the capillary action of the soil causing it to infiltrate slower in native soil or clay content soils or quicker in high sand content soils.

The first step is to determine how much water your irrigation system is delivering and also how uniform is this delivery. Set up a set of Precipitation Uniformity Gauges spaced every two to four feet between heads and run your irrigation cycle for fifteen minutes. Record how much Turf-Tec Precipitation and Uniformity Gauges come in a set of 20 calibrated gauges for irrigation audits.water has been applied and also how uniform the coverage is. If you determine that any gauges have more water in them then others, then you need to look at the problem further in terms of PSI at the head and uniform nozzle size. On many occasions, if part circle heads are on the same zone as full circle heads, without proper nozzle modifications; this often leads to irregularities in uniformity.

After uniformity is confirmed, the next step is determining soil infiltration. The Infiltrometer should be positioned on the same turfgrass area that the uniformity was tested and a 15-minute infiltration test should be performed. Match this number with the amount of water applied in the same 15 minute window and you can see if there is more water being applied then the soil and infiltrate in the same amount of time.

If the infiltration readings are lower then the amount of water that has been applied in any given time period it may be helpful to break up the irrigation time by watering for 10 minutes, switch zones and then re-water the initial zone perhaps one half hour to one hour later. This will allow the irrigation to seep into the soil before more is applied.

The next step involves taking a soil sample with the Mascaro Profile Sampler; this will give you an undisturbed view of your rootzone. Slowly dissect the rootzone and determine the depth of your roots. If the majority of your roots are in the three inch layer, this is the depth you want to be watering.

The final step in the water-monitoring audit involves the Moisture Sensor. Set the moisture sensor at the same depth the majority of roots are located and lock the adjustable probe into position. Next take moisture readings at the root depth before irrigation, immediately after irrigation and again in one hour, twelve hours and twenty four hour increments. Again, record your findings. This will determine how long it takes irrigation to get down to the rootzone. In addition it will tell you how long it takes for the rootzone to dry out.

The Moisture Sensor determines the percentage of water that is in the pore spaces of the soil. Typically you do no want to apply more water then 75% in the root zone or all the air space will be occupied by water. If the moisture reading is above 75%, monitor how long it remains in that range. Prolonged exposure to inadequate air supply will cause roots to become shallow and unhealthy.

In addition, when readings are below 25% in the rootzone, this is the time to apply irrigation. Any reading below 25% means that the capillary pull of the soil is equal to that of the grass roots and stress conditions will become visually apparent.

Keep in mind when monitoring, the soil characteristics will change from month to month as compaction and wear settle soils and aerification loosens them again. Compaction should be monitored and factored into your water monitoring program. In addition, precipitation and uniformity evaluations should be performed on a yearly basis; however infiltration should be monitored on a monthly basis. Soil sampling should be done on a weekly basis and moisture sensing should be kept up with on a daily basis or any time before irrigation is performed.

Looking back.

The best way for you to look back at our history is to attend the GCSAA conference and show in Orlando, Florida February 4th through the 9th, 2002. This year's show will feature a culmination of the 75th anniversary of GCSAA and there will be many events about our industries past. The historical equipment display will be located on the trade show floor. In addition, I will be on the program to speak on Wednesday, February 6th, 2002 in the "Reflecting on the The "History of Turfgrass Equipment by John Mascaro".  See the history section to see more photo's like these.Past - Looking to the Future" session at 3:30 - 5:30 pm. I will be speaking on "The History of Turfgrass Maintenance" at 3:30 pm. I will show over 100 years of historical equipment in picture form.

Also, if you do get to the show, please look me up in booth # 1408. I would love to meet everyone on my newsletter list, and in the case that I do know you personally; it would be nice to put a face with an email address!

To see all the information on the GCSAA show go to: http://www.gcsaa.org .

Contributions to this publication.

I also want to invite all of you recipients of this newsletter that if you wish to contribute any information that you find interesting or exciting, please send it to me and I will include it along with crediting its source.

Also, if you know another Golf Course Superintendent or Sports Turf Manager that would like to receive the Turf-Tec Digest, have them forward their email address along to me. In addition, I get most of my new product ideas from Golf Course Superintendents and Sports Turf Managers who see a need in the industry that has not been filled. Be sure to look at the new product section on my web site for new additions. http://www.turf-tec.com/Map.html

Privacy policies.

If you received this newsletter directly from john@turf-tec.com, donít worry. I personally acquired your name by researching each golf course and sports facility individually. In addition Turf-Tec does not buy, sell, trade or share their mailing list with anyone. We also have taken security measures to insure that your name will not be passed along to other people. If, however you still do not want to receive this newsletter, simply respond to this email with the words "remove" in the subject line and your name will be permanently deleted from our list.

Cover of the New 2002 Turf-Tec Catalog with over 44 Diagnostic Toosd and Instruments.If you have not received your new free 2002 Turf-Tec Catalog call us.

Our toll free (800) 258-7477 or email me at john@turf-tec.com or fill out the online form at http://www.turf-tec.com/form.html

Click here to search Turf-Tec Intrenational Site

Home / Search Site / Catalog / Online Ordering / Map of site / Newsletter / On line consult / Contact us
History / Web Designs / Request Catalog / Search Engines

*Copyright 2002