When Mike Greene, GCS first came to the Downriver Golf Course in Spokane WA in early 2016, it was the year that the golf course turned 100 years old. (See a video of Mike describing his experience with Bac-Pack, or just keep reading to learn more.)
“This is a really old poa golf course," he says. "Lots of trees, lots of shade, and we came into really constant Fusarium pressure almost 12 months a year. We threw all the tools we had at it the first year and when we got all done and when I looked back and reflecting on how the first year went, I looked back and we’d had 18 fungicide applications to finish the season and I just wasn’t happy. I just thought, 'What are we doing here? What are we doing wrong that was making that many necessary? What are we not doing to the soil that’s not allowing it to be healthy?'
"I started weighing some comparisons here and one of the things was that I just didn’t think we were doing much to support the biology of the soil. So we started initially going from your classic inorganic nutrients, the ammonium sulfates and urea’s and things like that, then going to some more vegetable-based and manure-based organic fertilizers to feed the microbes. Then we started making some compost tea initially and then we started with the Soil Tech product Bac-Pack to see if we could get some disease-suppression on this golf course. What we started seeing, was after we started using those 2 products in combination, we went from 7.8 pH to 7.2. So we definitely saw that there were things going on, again….soil!
"And we also started seeing when we used Bac-Pack, those windows when you could actually visually watch the fungicides in the past, wear off anywhere from 10-17 days, and see that disease pressure coming, it became 3, 4, or 5 weeks that you’d get between fungicide applications and then it would be, “Well, I don’t have disease on every green, I only have it on the corner of #17 and the right side of #2, not a global, down to the dirt disease epidemic like we were getting in the past. So, it was lengthening our spray windows, and then we started using it as a drench for Rhizoctonia for Waitea Patch and we actually saw, just all by itself, not just suppression but disease control. It would just visually disappear.
"So then we really incorporated it into our Waitea Patch program. It’s worked as well as any fungicide I’ve used, it’s less money per application than any fungicide I’ve used for Rhizoctonia and I’m just really optimistic and happy about the fact that we’ve probably saved….I think we’ve cut our greens fungicides about 65%, right about 2/3 for this year compared to last. Even though this year, weather-wise, should have been a higher disease-pressure year.
"So, those are the changes that I think I’ve attributed to seeing that reduction in disease pressure, and I’m really hoping that it’s going to continue, and we’re really making it a cornerstone of our agronomic program to really see what we can do first, plant health and soil heath-wise, before we get into that pesticide thing. Because I don’t…., I’m not anti-pesticide, I’ll use them if I have to in the right circumstances, but I feel a lot better about doing the things that we can control first. And, lo and behold, we saved $5,000-$6,000 by June this year, on fungicides that we were able to invest in other things on the course."