Pest prevention mostly revolves around manipulating or catering to the environment and susceptible plant hosts, or desired turfgrass. Preventing or manipulating the local environment to be counterproductive to pathogen development can be done through various cultural practices, some of which are more easily controlled than others. The most common environmental factors that favor diseases in turfgrass are temperature, moisture, light, and wind. An example of manipulating one of these factors would be improving soil structure through turfgrass cultural practices to better drain water, thus preventing excessive moisture, which is often a condition that is required or accelerates disease progression. Combining cultural practices to alter environmental conditions can effectively deter known regional pathogens for the turfgrass species present and is the backbone behind IPM strategies.
Another key part in reducing and preventing diseases involves selecting turfgrass species and specific cultivars bred to be tolerant or even resistant to major diseases.
Finally, manipulation of the pathogen itself completes the pest triangle. In terms of actual manipulation of the pathogens, there is very little to be done in most cases. Depending on the region and pathogen in question, it is likely that the pathogen is already present in the soil, either active or dormant. So, what can be done? For pathogens that aren’t uniformly widespread, turfgrass managers can take precautionary measures to prevent or at least limit the spread of pathogens. Some practices may involve adapting irrigation practices to prevent flooding or runoff, regularly cleaning off equipment after use, and collecting or bagging clippings when signals of disease are present.
As a seed company that invests heavily into research and development, it is one of our goals to provide our customers with products that can better withstand diseases. Less disease often leads to turf managers saving time and money, fewer pesticide applications, and a more sustainable turfgrass surface. By managing older varieties of turfgrass that aren’t as suited for today’s increased environmental stresses and disease pressures, turf managers will often have to invest more in pesticides or cultural practices to achieve the same level of turf quality. For those managers that already cover all their bases in the other parts of the pest triangle, these advanced genetics often push their turf quality to new levels. Having a strong and competitive turfgrass will better stand up to disease, and greatly reduce stress levels of a turfgrass manager.