AS SEEN IN NC Turfgrass Journal, June 2014: Written by Industry Expert Brad Harris, Forestry Biologist & Aquatic Specialist
There are many similarities when managing terrestrial and aquatic sites for pest control. And as turf professionals and golf course superintendents, you are familiar with turf Integrated Pest Management (IPM) programs for your respective properties and courses. Turf and ecological research has come a long way in past decades and simply treating a pest with an appropriate pesticide is no longer considered a sound practice, both for the turf, and for the environment. Research has shown many pest outbreaks can be controlled, reduced, or prevented altogether using techniques other than just chemical applications. An effective IPM program does not exclude pesticide use, but rather utilizes as many cultural, mechanical/physical, and biological control methods in combination with chemical control techniques to control a specific pest population.
The goal of IPM is to prevent or reduce pest population outbreaks using all control methods possible, which in theory should reduce the amount of pesticides needed to control the target pest population. Continued pesticide applications repeated over and over, without implementing other IPM methods, can lead to long term economic and environmental impacts that are not yet fully understood. Implementing an effective IPM program will typically reduce the amount of chemical applications and rates required to control a certain pest, thus reducing the likelihood of the target pest developing resistance. Reducing resistance of a pest to a pesticide should also result in a long term cost savings and less environmental impacts to the target areas.
An effective, site specific IPM program should be considered not only for your turf areas, but for your ponds as well. In fact, depending on which state you live in, implementing an IPM plan may be a requirement as part of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System-Pesticide General Permit (NPDES-PGP) that went into effect in late 2011. Some states require that an IPM plan be implemented or considered for each water body and that the pond or lake owner can be held responsible for any adverse effects created by the owner’s actions, as well as any contractors’ actions hired by the pond or lake owner to work on the site. Therefore, it is imperative that a pond or lake owner and any hired lake management company be familiar with this permit.
One of the biggest cultural turf IPM trends that was implemented lately is the switch from bentgrass to bermudagrass greens. The more heat tolerant bermudagrass is replacing the cool season bentgrass on many courses in the southeast. Planting genetically improved plants has not made it to the forefront of the aquatic industry and may never, but planting or introducing native vegetation and fish to a pond can help keep exotic and invasive vegetation from becoming established and can aid in keeping the pond balanced. Having an aquatic vegetative buffer around the perimeter of the pond can reduce erosion and sedimentation issues, as well as help the uptake of excess nutrients that would otherwise enter the water column, which can lead to potentially severe aquatic weed and algae issues.
Adding physical or mechanical IPM methods to your water body are very similar to adding mechanical or physical turf IPM strategies to your course or properties. There are many physical and mechanical IPM methods that can be added to your pond. These include aeration, pond dye, ultrasonic algae control systems, mechanical harvesting, and water level management, among others. Choosing which of these that will be best suited for your pond and budget will be specific to each site.
Adding a form of aeration to your lake or pond may be a good solution for a waterbody that has a high nutrient load, similar to adding a fan to a bentgrass green that has poor air circulation. Another physical IPM method turf professionals may implement to their course or property is adding a drainage system to an area that is known to hold water and requires repeated fungal treatments. Similarly, if a pond is having issues with floating weeds, the pond owner and lake management company may alter the existing outlet structure to reduce the amount of herbicide applications needed for adequate control of that weed.
Just as keeping the microorganisms in the soil healthy and balanced is essential for maintaining a healthy stand of turf, the same applies for maintaining the water quality in a pond. Adding beneficial bacteria to a pond will help metabolize excess nutrients and reduce the likelihood of severe algae blooms and aquatic weed infestations. This, in turn, will reduce the amount of algaecides and aquatic herbicides needed to combat these issues.
Contact the experts at 888-480-LAKE (5253) for all of your lake, pond and fisheries management needs.Brad Harris is a Forestry Biologist and Aquatic Specialist serving as SOLitude’s Regional Manager for southwest Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina. He studied at Paul Smith's College in New York and at NC State University. After college, Brad worked his way from a laborer to managing a multimillion dollar landscape maintenance division. Brad's passion for working outdoors and respect for the environment brought him to SOLitude Lake Management. He became a licensed aquatic pesticide applicator in seven states and a Certified Compliance Inspector of Stormwater (CCIS) as he turned his focus to sustainable methods of improving water quality. Brad’s field and technical experience combined with his management and business acumen helped him develop custom management plans for HOAs, commercial properties, golf courses, private landowners, and municipalities to help improve the ecological balance of their ponds.