2018 Course Renovations @ Nikanti Golf Club

The 2nd of April saw the beginning of the annual course renovations for Nikanti Golf Club. The aim of the process was to remove the excess organic matter that has accumulated over the last 12 months, relieve any compaction and present the surfaces in top condition for the clubs biggest event of the year, the BMW Golf Cup which begins on the 10th of May.

We have created a set of Course Quality Objectives for the club which include target ranges for various performance parameters including firmness, green speed, infiltration rate and soil organic matter levels. These parameters are aimed at maintaining a high performing playing surface consistently through the year. 

Renovation practices like what we completed this year and in previous years, allow the club to achieve those goals and target specific areas that have been identified as underperforming. Since incorporating the Course Quality Objectives, the main focus during renovations has been removing the maximum amount of organic matter from the fairways. The fairways are harbouring a dense organic matter layer at their surface which holds excess moisture and results in a softer surface.

Soil organic matter levels in the greens were tested by Loss on Ignition at three different levels. 0-20mm, 20-40mm and 40-60mm. From these results, we could effectively target the problem area for maximum results. The test results showed that the OM levels are still within the target ranges. The decision was then made to use a solid tine rather than a coring tine and focus the verti-cutting on the top 5mm of the soil to remove the OM which had accumulated over the previous 12 months. The club will also incorporate more regular verti-cutting and dusting in their regular program through the year.

A step by step video of the golf course renovation practices at Nikanti Golf Club in 2018

Below is a summary of the program in chronological order for all surfaces including approximate costs. 


  • Vertical mow at -5mm up and back on the same line in 3 directions
  • Double cut at 3mm
  • Aerate with 9.7mm solid tines in a 1.5" x 1.5" pattern
  • Top-dress by hand
  • Level lawn when the sand has dried
  • Double roll
  • Brush with a medium-soft hand broom
  • Apply fertiliser and irrigation. Ammonium sulphate (21-0-0) and Eon 75 (humic acids)

After 4 days...

  • Vertical mow at 0mm
  • Aerate with 6.3mm solid tines in a 1.5" x 1.5" pattern
  • Brush with a medium-sof hand broom
  • Apply fertiliser and irrigation. Mono Ammonium Phosphate (12-60-0), Potassium Nitrate (13.5-0-44) and a retention wetting agent.

Approximate costs (initial 2 days):

  • Sand = US$1238.71 (60m3)
  • Labour = US$1,043.98 (31 staff)
  • Tines = US$1,045.20
  • Fertiliser = US$616.88 (21-0-0 = $36.23 + Humic Acid = $580.65)


  • Vertical mow at -5mm up and back on the same stripe in 3 directions (Triplex)
  • Graden at -5mm in 1 direction (collars and other small areas)
  • Double cut at 9mm
  • Top dress
  • Aerate with 9.7mm solid tines in a 1.5" x 2" pattern
  • Rub in with coconut drag mat
  • Heavy roll
  • Apply fertiliser and irrigation. Ammonium sulphate (21-0-0)

Approximate costs:

  • Sand = US$1,48.39 (75m3)
  • Labour = US$811.69 (25 staff)
  • Tines = US$537.10
  • Fertiliser = US$45.29


  • Circle cut at 7mm
  • Graden in 1 direction at -20mm
  • Drag with a steel mat (after Rak-O-Vac)
  • Cut at 7mm in 1 direction
  • Top dress
  • Rub in sand when dry with a coconut mat
  • Apply fertiliser and irrigation. Ammonium sulphate (21-0-0)

Approximate costs:

  • Sand = US$9,290.32 (450m3)
  • Labour = US$503.05
  • Fertiliser = US$271.74


  • Cut from 40mm to 20mm
  • Top dress and aerate high traffic areas with 16mm coring tines in a 2.5" x 2" pattern
  • Rub in with a steel drag mat when dry
  • Apply fertiliser and irrigation. Ammonium sulphate (21-0-0)

Approximate costs:

  • Sand = US$412.90 (20m3)
  • Labour = US$226.2
  • Fertiliser = US$301.94


Tees were completed two weeks later as part of our regular maintenance routine. The program below is completed on the tees every 4 weeks and has provided fantastic results allowing the club to forgo a major renovation.

  • Cut at 5mm
  • Light top dress
  • Aerate with 6.3mm solid tines in a 1.5" x 2" pattern

Approximate costs

  • Sand = US$495.48 (24m3)
  • Labour = US$78.13 (5 staff @ US$1.56/hour)
  • Tines = US$508.10

A huge thank you to the team at Nikanti, it was a tough week but they did an expert job allowing us to finish on schedule with a fantastic result.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions regarding any of the processes above.

Nikanti Golf Club - Reaping Benefits of Recent Irrigation Upgrade

Nikanti Golf Club in Nakhon Pathom, Thailand, just outside of Bangkok, is reaping the benefits of their recent irrigation upgrade.  Even though the course hadn’t even been officially opened the inadequacies of the original installation showed up quickly.  The limitations included:

  • Undersized mainline and pump station resulting in excessive watering window.
  • Dead end mainline on some holes resulting in limited flow capacity and low pressure in many areas.
  • Excessive and irregular spacing with poor uniformity.
  • Poor sprinkler locations and nozzling with fairway sprinklers throwing well onto green surfaces.
  • Multiple sprinklers paired together (2 – 4) compounding the poor sprinkler spacing and low pressure.
  • Poor green sprinkler layout, locations and uniformity.  Sprinklers from off the greens throwing onto the greens, limited surround sprinklers around and behind many greens and poor green sprinkler locations causing overwatering of the approach and green surfaces.
  • Poor tee and fairway sprinkler layout and excessive spacing.

As a result, the course was suffering from:

  • Wet and dry spots
  • Excessive salt buildup
  • Algae on greens, approaches and fairways
  • Inability to apply adequate irrigation during peak demand
  • Excessive power and water use
  • Poor turf quality
  • Unsatisfactory playability

The golf coursedesign at Nikanti Golf Club is not your typical flat course as many in the Bangkok area are.  The course features significant undulations in the fairways, roughs and even some greens with large runoffs from many of the elevated greens.  The irrigation system in conditions such as these requires an even higher degree of control to have the capability to adapt the application rate to meet the diverse conditions.  The original irrigation system was not designed to meet these challenges.

Significant Undulations In the Fairways, Roughs and Even Some Greens With Large Runoffs From Many of the Elevated Greens Create Many Irrigation Challenges

ATI was initially contacted by Hamish McKendrick (Agronomist) and Brad Revill (Golf Course Superintendent) to perform an Irrigation System Analysis and Long Range Plan.  The purpose of the analysis was to help independently identify the problems and make recommendations to the ownership to remedy the problems. Unfortunately, at the time the system was less than a year old and the course not yet open for play.  Accepting these limitations and significant additional costs was difficult to explain and for the ownership understand initially.

However, after reviewing the findings of the system analysis submitted by ATI and seeing the poor conditions the ownership wisely committed to implement most of the ATI recommendations. J & J, the local Toro distributor, was contracted to implement the upgrade designed by ATI.

ATI prepared an irrigation renovation plan to include the following:

  • Installation of a new Watertronics 681 m3/hr at 8.27 bar (3,000 gpm @ 120 psi) with capacity for a possible future expansion. A significant increase from the original 375 m3/hr at 8.27 bar (1,650 gpm @ 120 psi pump station.
  • Supplemental mainline and increased mainline size in selected areas to increase flow and reduce pressure loss. The additional main provided looping of the previous dead ends as well.
  • Conversion to individual sprinkler control by adding additional decoders. To accomplish the individual control supplemental decoder communication wire was required due to limitations in the capacity of the original wire installed.
  • Installation of complete new green and surround irrigation.

Fortunately, the contractor and golf course working together allowed these significant renovations to be installed with limited disruption to play.

One year after completion of the renovation the results are obvious when you drive into the property not to mention the tremendously improved playing conditions.  The benefits in the investment in the irrigation system include:

  • Healthier turf
  • More consistent and not excessive soil moisture.
  • Greatly improved playability
  • Reduced water useand electrical consumption
  • More uniform greens moisture and no algae on greens, approaches or fairways
  • Reduced salt buildup in the fairways and roughs

Improved Turf and Playing Conditions

The new system has given Brad Revill the tools he needed to dial in the course conditions.  Brad and his staff can now implement much more controlled and precise water applications. They only irrigate what is needed and not until it is needed. This improved water management is accomplished through a combination of the following management practices:

  • Constant visual observation and awareness
  • Soil moisture sensing
  • A disciplined irrigation scheduling regimen
  • Hand watering as needed for small areas

The improved water management was the result of the disciplined management provided by Brad Revill, the golf course superintendent.  Golf courses in Asia in general and Thailand in particular suffer greatly from significant overwatering.  The reason for this general overwating can vary from course to course, but are a result to some degree of the following factors:

  • Fear of brown grass
  • A lack of understanding of playability and golfer happiness
  • Fear of computers combined with a language barrier to operate the software
  • Apathy

In order to overcome the urge to overwater the staff at Nikanti required a change in their mindset.  Brad laid down strict guidelines to not irrigate anything until necessary which required “training them up or kicking some ass,” according to Brad.  He instructed the staff not to panic when they saw a dry spot.  Before, if one fairway had one dry spot, then ALL the fairways would be irrigated and not just the area(s) in need. Brown spots are a good sign, not a bad sign. They show that we are where we want to be and then implement the appropriate action to only that area in need and only the amount needed.  Keeping the course on the edge of dryness rather than excessively wet requires:

  • An understanding of soil moisture levels and their effects on turf
  • Keen attention to the status of the soil moisture and turf condition
  • Discipline to only apply water where it is needed, at the right time and at the right amount
  • Knowledge of the irrigation system to determine the best method of action to replace address dry areas, whether by hose, by a single sprinkler or a group of sprinklers. Start with the smallest option and work your way up.

At Nikanti, the soil moisture sensing begins in the morning with the Spectrum TDR moisture sensing probe to gather the data for the greens.  When they hand water the greens in the mornings from a quick coupler and hose, the minimum soil moisture level is dependent on weather conditions, but generally ranges from around 15% to 17%. A decision is made on this daily.  At midday, a Pogo moisture sensing probe is used to further measure the soil moisture.  If the reading is 10 – 15% or less the dry areas are hand watered again and evening irrigation scheduled.   When they schedule the irrigation at night using the Pogo Cloud GPS mapping they only turn on the sprinklers that directly influence the dry areas.  The Pogo offers the benefit of easily tracking and recording the data in the computer.  The Spectrum TDR is used in the morning since the time required is less than with the Pogo.  The two instruments take measurement at different depths which is helpful with the Spectrum measuring at a deeper level.  As a result the readings are slightly different but both are beneficial.  The use of the soil moisture sensing removes the subjective nature of the process which makes the task much easier for the staff to understand.

Soil Moisture Sensing With Pogo

Hand Watering of Greens When Needed

The improved irrigation on the greens provides much more uniform coverage of the water than before.  Eliminating water from fairway and other sprinklers throwing onto the greens makes the management of the green soil moisture much easier to control.  This coupled with the improved water management has eliminated the algae on the greens.  Additionally, the approaches to the green are much drier than before so the playability of the course has greatly improved.

The weather station is used to track the weather and evapotranspiration rate (ET).  The correct amount of water required is then scheduled for the other areas of the course.  In the dry season the maximum they would apply at peak would be 7 – 9 mm.  A full irrigation cycle can now be applied in dry season from 7:30 pm to 4:00 am to the entire course as a result of the increase pump and mainline capacity.  Before the renovation it wasn’t possible to adequately irrigate the entire course in a single evening during peak demand.

Daily Field Adjustments of Individual Sprinkler Run Times

The upgraded individual sprinkler control now allows the staff to adjust the sprinkler run times up or down on a daily basis as needed for each sprinkler based on their visual observation during the day.  The graphic as-built map added to the computer when it was programmed by ATI is a significant benefit to the operation of the system. After identifying wet and dry spots the use of the graphic as-built map with the IPad makes the task revising the program much quicker and simpler to accomplish.  .

Most of the recommendations from the ATI System Analysis and Long Range Plan were implemented during the initial irrigation renovation.  However, a couple of other improvements are still on the list to be accomplished as soon as the funding becomes available.  The rough areas around the tees are planted with a combination of landscape and native grasses.  This is a great idea to help conserve water, reduce maintenance and provide an attractive contrast to the turf.  Unfortunately, during the initial irrigation installation these areas were irrigated with the same sprinklers as the turf.  Water is now wasted in these areas and the unnecessary water promotes weed growth causing additional and unnecessary work for the staff.  Nikanti plans to upgrade the irrigation in these areas to tee top only irrigation as soon as possible.

The Addition of Tee Top Only Irrigation In the Future Will Further Improve Water Efficiency and Reduce Unnecessary Growth and Weeds

Also, many of the bunkers at Nikanti have steep grass down bunker faces so they dry much quicker than the surrounding turf.  They require constant supplement hand watering to keep them in good condition.  As soon as possible Nikanti intends to start adding supplemental sub-surface drip irrigation to the bunker faces in need.  This can be added by the staff one at a time as time and money becomes available.

The investment in the irrigation system combined with the professional water management provided by Brad and his staff has paid off in improved course conditions, increased play, lower operating costs and improved customer satisfaction.

Uniform Turf and Improved Playability

If your course experiences similar problems or is not at the level of condition you desire a good start is to get a system analysis from ATI performed as soon as possible.  You can then know what is required to give your staff the tools they need to do their job at a high level.

Unfortunately the poor spacing and location of the sprinklers in the fairways and roughs cannot be easily overcome.  Fortunately for Nikanti some of the other mistakes could be repaired but improving poor sprinkler layout requires nearly starting over.  The best answer for golf course, like most important tasks, is to do it right the first time.


Written by James Schumacher, President of Aqua Turf International. Original article can be found at 

MLSN @ Nikanti GC. Reducing Expenses and Inputs Since 2016

Is it possible to reduce fertiliser expenses by 69%? I certainly wouldn't have thought so 2 years ago. I used to dig my heels in a little at monthly P&L meetings when management would ask to reduce our expenses, but once I started to embrace it as a challenge, it was like new motivation! To maintain our surfaces at the same high standard or better, for a fraction of the price. 

In my previous post regarding Phosphorus and our use of the MLSN guidelines, I mentioned that apart from the improvements in turf performance, we have seen some positive results on the bottom line and that is what I would like to share with you now.

While the MLSN Guidelines have played a major role in reducing our expenses, they can't take all the credit. There is another major change we made that shares equal weight with our decision to follow the MLSN and that is to use only soluble fertiliser compounds. We no longer use any liquid or slow release granular fertilisers as part of our normal fertility program across all of our surfaces and in doing so, have seen huge savings. Now, I should clarify and say that we do still use a liquid and granular humic acid product on our greens with great results, but apart from that, everything else is a soluble compound fertiliser.

As this post is mainly about sharing some positive consequences after following the MLSN Guidelines, I will perhaps write another post further expanding on our use of soluble fertilisers. For now, I will leave you with this great article from the team at the Green Section Record titled "Does the Grass Know the Cost?"

Figures shown are for greens only. P and K figures are displayed as elemental P and K and not P2O5 and K2O.

Figures shown are for greens only. P and K figures are displayed as elemental P and K and not P2O5 and K2O.

The above graph illustrates what may be some typical results after following the MLSN guidelines. These figures will vary from course to course depending on what nutrient reserves are currently in the soil but I am sure that anyone who begins following the guidelines will report a reduction in fertiliser application. I do apologise for not having our application figures for 2015 but they were lost during a transition to a new computer, however I do remember that they were only slightly higher than the 2016 figures.

Some of you may comment that the N:K ratio is not correct and we are not supplying enough K, this is due to the fact that we had enough K in the soil reserve at the start of the year and in fact applied zero K for some time. We now apply K regularly as the grass requires in a ratio of 1:0.7 for Bermuda and 1:1 for Paspalum.

My goal when first starting to follow the MLSN Guidelines was to reduce the soil reserve of each element to the MLSN value and observe the results. I have since done so with the elements above except for Calcium, as there is a large soil reserve and Magnesium, as this is ever present in our water supply in high amounts. I have not seen any detrimental results thus far as a direct result of following the MLSN Guidelines. I have only seen positives.

So, is it possible to reduce your fertiliser budget by 69%?

Figures converted to US Dollars from Thai Baht at a rate of 34 Thai Baht to US$1.00

Figures converted to US Dollars from Thai Baht at a rate of 34 Thai Baht to US$1.00

We are still a long way from the minimalists of the world like Jason Haines and the results they are achieving. Check out his writings on his experiences and results following the MLSN Guidelines and the results that can be achieved.

But again, each course and their circumstances are different and I hope this can provide some motivation/inspiration or at the very least, something to think about the next time your preparing your budget, fertility program or being asked to reduce expenses.

How Much Phosphorus Do You Actually Need?

Zero! Except after a scheduled aeration. I exaggerate but that is indeed how much I thought I needed to apply in the early days of my career. Phosphorous is bad, it makes the plant puffy and the leaf soft. (Sigh) Don't really know what I was thinking back then but I am so happy I have now educated myself and know some great people that are so willing to give their time to answer my questions.

So it has been around 8 months since we started following the MLSN guidelines and we have been very happy with the results, not just from a turf performance point of view but from the financial side as well! It is easy to think you are now an expert at this point, growing great turf and saving the club a lot of money which can be spent elsewhere but it is easy to make mistakes as we all know. I will now share with you some of mine, so that you may learn from them as I did.

One particular point I had overlooked with our new approach was the relationship between the MLSN guidelines, soil pH and the testing methods of the laboratory. The particular lab we use for our soil fertility analysis uses the Ammonium Acetate method for the Ca, K, Mg, Na and for Phosphorus they use the Bray method for our Fairways as the pH is below 7.5 (most likely due to the amount of ammonium sulphate we apply) and the Olsen method for our greens and tees as the pH is above 7.5. This is important as in some cases the figures vary greatly which will  impact on your turf performance.

The MLSN Guidelines. Figures are in ppm.

The MLSN Guidelines. Figures are in ppm.

The Mehlich 3 figures are sourced from the latest MLSN Guidelines from 2014 while the Bray and Olsen figures are sourced from the 2012 MLSN update.As for the Ammonium Acetate figures, I will leave it to the always helpful Micah Woods to explain from a recent email conversation below

For K, Ca, and Mg, I expect ammonium acetate is used by the lab for every
pH. So you can make an estimate by using conversion equations such as

I think there may be a little bit of trickiness involved with that,
because those units are lbs per acre, and the MLSN guidelines are in ppm
and we make those recommendations for a 4” (10 cm) soil depth. This is all
understandable once one works through it, I assure you.

From the Cornell equation, for K, it is written as:

(M3-K in ppm * 0.84) x 2 = Ammoniumacetate K in lbs/acre

If you have ammonium acetate K in ppm already, that means the lab already
divided the lbs/acre by 2. So to convert to estimated values of Mehlich 3
K, you take your potassium (K ppm) and divide in by 0.84. That gives you
the estimated K ppm if it was done by Mehlich 3.

And that same process could be done for Ca and Mg.

Another oversight was while I was having no issues with the calculations to determine the amount of an element I needed to apply and the forecasted use of the element by the plant, I could not understand why my forecasted ppm value for P was so far off the actual P quantity in the soil test reports. I then realised my mistake, which some may call amateur but what I realised was that I was using the Phosphorus quantities on the fertiliser bag (P2O5) instead of actual P to make the calculations and once I adjusted the equation, my forecasted figure was less than 1ppm from the actual result of the soil analysis! Read this blog post from Micah for more info regarding the P2O5 conversion.

Now back to the question at hand. How much phosphorus do you actually need? Well it largely depends on the lab testing method and your pH. For me, I only need to stay above 6ppm in my greens and tees and 30ppm in our fairways. Also, you should always remember that the MLSN Guidelines are in fact only guidelines and the figures quoted below are the minimum amount required for the plant, you should always aim to be above that minimum.

Some of you may be asking "What about root growth?". Well I can only tell you from my experience following the MLSN over the past 8 months is that we have seen a steady increase in root depth over the last 12 months which I attribute to suppling sufficient amounts of Phosphorus (no visual P deficiencies observed), our cultural program and our heavy focus on maintaining a consistent daily volumetric water content of between 15 to 22% in our greens. 

Now while these results may not be staggering, they are realistic.

If you are new to the MLSN Guidelines and want to know more or perhaps how to start at your facility, you can see how we started the journey in this previous post and for more information on the calculations check out this post.

MLSN Update and Calculations

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a great time with friends and family. I was lucky enough to travel around Central Europe with my Fiancé, eating a ridiculous amount of food and soaking up some incredible sights like the one below.

Now back in Thailand, we have been experiencing some unusually wet and miserable weather for this time of year. Receiving a little over 46mm the past 5 days when we wouldn't normally see a drop. The turf has reacted with a flush of growth and an unfortunate consequence of a drop in green speeds. 

Spectacular view from our hotel in Austria

Before I left for Europe I published my first ever blog post and was blown away with the amount of feedback and page visits it received. There were a total of 480 visits since I published the article last month, with many people contacting me with questions and positive feedback. 

To start off the new year, I thought I would give a quick update on our fertility program, show the calculations I use to estimate soil ppm values and plan for future applications.

What I didn't mention in my previous post was that we are not only following the guidelines on our greens, but course wide. So I have shared my soil test results for the tees and fairways below so you can see where we stand on all playing surfaces at the start of the trial.

Tees above and Fairways below.

As I've shown in my previous post, the lab targets for Calcium and Magnesium always seem to be unattainable and only lead to frustration and what seems to be an over-application of fertiliser. It is still only early days, but the MLSN guidelines just seem to make sense. Why apply fertiliser if the plant is not showing signs of a deficiency or continue to apply if there is no measurable response from the plant after application?

You can see from the graphs that the Calcium and Magnesium levels in the tees and fairways are more than sufficient and still have quite a ways to go until reaching the MLSN while Sulphur I fear will always be an issue due to the high concentrations in our water supply. We will be starting to apply Potassium to our fairways this month and based on my calculations, we still have sufficient levels in our tees for at least another 2 months. We will also be making an application of Phosphorus to the tees this month which should bring the soil levels above the MLSN and have enough reserve to carry us through to our scheduled aeration in April.

Micah Woods has always been helpful in answering any questions I have had about the MLSN guidelines and I'll share his explanation below from a recent email on how to calculate how many ppm of a certain element you are adding to the soil.

1 gram spread on one square meter is the equivalent of 6.7 ppm if it were to spread evenly through a 10 cm deep rootzone.

You can customize this however you like. For most situations, I like to work with a 10 cm rootzone and a soil bulk density of 1.5 g per cubic centimeter. If you prefer to work with a different rootzone depth, or a different bulk density, then you can make similar calculations as I show here for finding the correct conversion factor.

1 square meter on the surface has an area of 100 cm x 100 cm = 10,000 cm2

The volume of 1 m2 to the depth of 10 cm is 10,000 cm2 x 10 cm = 100,000 cm3 = 100 L

So we have 1 gram of fertilizer to apply across one square meter, and we want to know how much that should change 100 L of soil. Or we don’t apply fertilizer, and we try to predict how much the soil will go down based on the quantity harvested by the grass.

1 gram is mass. 100 L is volume. And ppm is mg per kg. So we need to convert the soil from volume to mass. Sand usually has a bulk density of about 1.5 g/cm3. So 100 L of sand rootzone will have a mass of 150 kg.

Now we have mass into mass. 1 gram at the surface = 1000 mg into 150 kg = 1000/150 = 6.7 ppm.

Based on the above method as well as the calculations in these articles from the USGA and ATC, a more detailed explanation in "A Short Grammar of Greenkeeping" and general ratios of each element in the leaf (table below) you can calculate the amount of each element used by the turf, remediate any deficiencies as well as predict how long the soil reserve will last for.

Element use per 10g of Nitrogen applied per grass species. Based on general leaf tissue ratios.

Element use per 10g of Nitrogen applied per grass species. Based on general leaf tissue ratios.

Hole 4 at Nikanti Golf Club - January 2017

Apart from the temporary reduction in green speed due to the flush of growth from recent rainfall, we have not yet suffered a reduction in turf performance due to the change in our agronomic program.

I will post another update on our use of the MLSN guidelines after we receive the results of our soil tests next month but before that I will share a few thoughts and strategies for managing organic matter. 

All the best for 2017!

The Start of Something New - MLSN!!

I am often found wondering on how to better myself and the techniques we use as turf managers, to obtain the sometimes unrealistic goals we place on ourselves in our endless pursuit of perfection. It is this pursuit however, this passion for turf and the science behind it which keeps me eager to learn and challenge myself, to always improve and develop a better way of how we do things. Whether that is to do with turf management and the environment, or leadership, budgeting and planning, communication, or employee management and education, I will often enjoy reading about new research and articles written about these subjects and look forward to testing them on the course and with my team.

It is these subjects, the trials, my past, present and future experiences in turf management and maybe a little about the life of an international superintendent that I will be attempting to write about in this blog. 

A little about me... I grew up on the South Coast of New South Wales, Australia in a small town called Bermagui where I also started my career in turf management. From there I made my way over to the U.S. for 12 months on the Ohio State program before coming back to Australia. I was then off again to South East Asia where I have been for 5 years with a stint in Brunei on the tropical island of Borneo and currently in Thailand as the Director of Golf Course Maintenance at Nikanti Golf Club, Bangkok. Just over 3 years ago and my second year in Asia, I attended a turf seminar and golf day held at Springfield Country Club in Hua Hin, Thailand where I was lucky to meet (sweep her off her feet) my fiancee Blue. As there are usually not many girls that attend such events, I was very lucky to find her. For which I am very grateful, she has been very supportive of everything I set out to achieve in my career and long story short, we will be married next February!

Over the past year we have conducted several trials with machinery, grass types and agronomic programs which has allowed our course conditioning to improve as well as decreasing the bottom line. Most recently of which is our implementation of the MLSN guidelines.

For years I have been following the recommendations from soil testing laboratories trying to create the "ideal soil" with the correct ratios of nutrients. After each soil test I would follow the recommendations, most of the time adding more and more calcium. After each test my ppm values would increase along with the "target" ppm values which kept getting higher and higher until it seemed I would never reach it. I grew frustrated with the recommendations and after reading article after article and research papers online, I came across the MLSN guidelines produced by Pace Turf and Dr. Micah Woods. If you haven't heard of it before, you can find the article by Pace Turf here and an article by Micah on how to use the guidelines here. Jason Haines has been using MLSN for the past 4 years and has some great data on his blog.

I was immediately attracted to the MLSN approach as it just made so much sense. You only apply the quantity of nutrients that the plant is actually using based on the ratio of nutrients in the leaf, the quantity of Nitrogen applied and clipping yield.

I have started adopting this approach from September 2016 and am currently in my 3rd month and have not applied an application of Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium or trace elements (except foliar Fe) in those 3 months. The graphs show our month by month ppm values and my aim will be to reduce them down to the MLSN guidelines before applying the nutrients as the grass needs them. You can clearly see how different and varied the target recommendations from the lab are (Ca, Mg, K) compared to the MLSN. No wonder I was confused and frustrated.

Typical Irrigation Water Analysis from our site

Typical Irrigation Water Analysis from our site

I should mention that even though we have only applied Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Humic Acids for the past 3 months, the quantity of Magnesium, Calcium and Sulphur in the soil fluctuate due to the high levels in our irrigation water. Our water source is a river which runs adjacent to the course which we have tested monthly as the levels of all elements constantly fluctuate. I suspect this is from the large amount of agricultural areas fronting the river upstream, including rice paddies, shrimp farms and pig farms as well as manufacturing plants.

Greens are still in good shape with 3 months of no K, only applying N and P with a little Mg and Ca from irrigation

Based on our November soil analysis, I am predicting I will have to start re-applying Potassium at the end of this month as the soil ppm drops to the MLSN level. We will be taking more soil samples early in the new year, so we will see how accurate my calculations are.

As I am posting this, we are on our way to Europe for Christmas so I am planning my next blog entry for the new year. Merry Christmas and a happy New Year to all!