Pest prevention mostly revolves around manipulating or catering to the environment and susceptible plant hosts, or desired turfgrass. Preventing or manipulating the local environment in ways to be counterproductive to the potentially present pathogens can be done through various cultural practices, and some 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.
The other key part in reducing and preventing diseases involves selecting turfgrass species, and furthermore, cultivars bred to be tolerant or even resistant to major diseases that pose a risk.
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, which often leads to turf managers saving time and money, fewer pesticide applications, and a more long-term 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.
Finally, manipulation of the pathogen itself rounds out the parts of 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 very well might be likely that the pathogen is readily present in the soil either active or dormant. But what can be done might you ask? 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 irrigating practices to prevent flooding or runoff, regularly cleaning off equipment after use, and collecting or bagging clippings when signals of disease are present.