“Soil Tech's program fits our mission statement pretty well. I mean, if you look at any mission statement, you're trying to do it cheaper and more responsible and more renewable and all those keywords. But I think we're actually doing it better than most, for sure,” says Jeff Hoste, superintendent of Village Greens Golf Course in Chicago, IL.
Jeff has been a Superintendent for over 20 years. He says “My GCSAA card says 30 so I was an assistant for seven years before that…”
When he first arrived at Village Greens, the general manager was interested in the idea of using biosolids. “He wanted us to put biosolids out everywhere, which we did for a while. Nasty job, and there's a smell associated with it but I was down with turning my brain onto something kind of new. After 20 years, you have to reinvent yourself a couple of times here and there otherwise you'll go crazy, right? It was just something to sink my brain into, obviously, personally and I believe in it. I think God had this figured out a long time ago, and we have, over the years, messed it up to the point where we need to fix it again.”
“So there's a kind of a push from the top to think about it or investigate it. I think it was always there as kind of a building block, but not as a tool, more of a garnishment, you know what I mean? Like a salt and pepper kind of thing in your spray, it wasn't the focus. It was certainly encouraged. So we did that and we brewed our own compost tea and we did a lot of other crazy things.”
Brewing your own compost tea, Jeff says “gets to the point where it’s difficult… But the problem is, in Chicago, it could rain in the middle of summer with very little notice or something would happen that it was spray day and I was ready to go and it's raining outside cats and dogs, so I had to dump it. And then it got to be a logistical problem. I was doing three tanks and it would throw things off to the point where it was a pain. And then I also got Gray leaf spot. That's when I decided that I'm not going to die on the sword for it. So I'm still going to try it, but I've got to throw some chemical out. It was just easier at that point. I knew what I would be getting.”
That’s when Jeff first heard about Bio-Mega and the idea of just using a single product. “There's so many variables that we ultimately just decided to go with you guys exclusively to see what would happen. It started off with Bio-Mega.”
After a full season, Jeff began applying Bac-Pack to his putting greens. “I was hooked because I wasn't seeing any disease anywhere, anytime. I would put Bio-Mega/Bac-Pack down monthly with a few other things. Nothing that would compete. That went on like eight months. I mean, went on all the way to August without having to spray anything. And that was before I knew about the Fungastop. That worked when we had leaf spot in the fairways. So I don't know. You just keep trying, you just keep playing with stuff. The microbiology is doing the work rather than what we would typically rely on. Again, you're not in the driver's seat, you're just trying to get everyone happy again soil-wise and then problems take care of themselves. That’s how it’s supposed to work at least, right?”
UPDATE: At the time of publishing, Jeff Hoste had been able to maintain Village Greens Golf Course with no conventional fungicides throughout the entire 2022 growing season.