Global Soil Survey

August 15, 2013 in blog, Promotions

How Low Can You Go?

Join the Global Soil Survey for Sustainable Turf and Find Out

Global Soil SurveyPACE Turf and the Asian Turfgrass Center made headlines last year with the introduction of Minimum Levels for Sustainable Nutrition (MLSN), a new set of guidelines for turf soils that allows turf managers to reduce fertilizer inputs and costs, while still maintaining the desired levels of turf quality and playability. Now, lead scientists Dr. Larry Stowell, Dr. Micah Woods and Dr. Wendy Gelernter have announced the launch of “The Global Soil Survey for Sustainable Turf,” a citizen science-style initiative that invites turf managers from around the world to participate in further refining the MLSN sustainability guidelines. Turf managers who participate in the global soil survey gain invaluable information about their own soil nutritional status and where it fits on the sustainability spectrum, while also taking leadership to help their industry become more sustainable.

But the goal of more sustainable turf management has been a double-edged sword for many. While almost everyone agrees in principle that efforts to reduce energy, fertilizer and pesticide inputs is a good idea, there has been too little concrete information on how exactly one goes about practically applying sustainability concepts. That’s where the Global Soil Survey, and its goal of helping turf managers to fine-tune their nutritional programs, comes in.

“When we introduced the MLSN guidelines in 2012,” PACE Turf’s Dr. Stowell said, “turf managers were surprised to find how low they could go without sacrificing turf quality or playability. We came up with the idea of the Global Soil Survey, because we wanted to expand the use of this low input concept by making it easier and also more fun to implement.”

Participants in the soil survey will receive a kit that contains all of the materials needed to package and ship three soil samples from good performing areas of their facility. The samples will be analyzed by Brookside Laboratories, and the data interpreted by Drs. Woods and Stowell. “Each person will receive a full report on their results, as well as an analysis of where each nutrient falls on the sustainability index,” Dr. Stowell said. “Turf managers have really found the index to be useful, because it gives them a numerical way to monitor where they are now and to track how they are improving over time.”

Besides receiving their own personal report, each participant’s data will be added to the already sizable database assembled by the Asian Turfgrass Center and PACE Turf from turf soils sampled from all over the world, thus helping to refine the MLSN guidelines and make them more and more robust. Available on the Global Soil Survey webpage, the guidelines and methods for implementing them will be updated periodically and will be accessible, free of charge, to the public. “We see the guidelines and the data they are based on as an incredibly powerful resource for turf managers, researchers and students from all regions of the world,” said Asian Turfgrass Center’s Dr. Woods. “We hope that the Global Soil Survey and the soil nutritional guidelines that it helps to produce is just the first in many participatory efforts that focus on the nuts and bolts of implementing sustainable practices.”

“We see the survey going on in perpetuity,” said PACE Turf’s Dr. Gelernter, “and we will constantly be improving the MLSN guidelines based on the data we receive.

“We have both always been impressed by the desire of turf managers to be good stewards of the land that they manage,” she said, “and we’ve also always admired the industry for its emphasis on sharing information for the betterment of all. The Global Soil Survey gives both of those leadership qualities an outlet, and we’re excited to be part of it.”
For more information on the Global Soil Survey for Sustainable Turf or to order the $250 Global Survey Kit, visit the Global Soil Survey webpage or the Global Soil Survey Facebook page.

The Asian Turfgrass Center works with turf facilities throughout Asia to provide expert and unbiased advice on how to best obtain desired turfgrass conditions. Its website at contains turf news and agronomic and research information that is used by turf managers around the world.

PACE Turf is a membership organization that provides breaking research news, information and expert advice on its website. The mission of PACE Turf is to generate and share independent and objective agronomic information for turf professionals, so they may develop management programs that are effective, practical and scientifically sound.