Putting Doesn't Pollute, Research Finds

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Some of the most common chemicals used on golf courses -- fungicides applied to golf greens -- do not pass into surface water runoff or leach into ground water, researchers said today (Wednesday 8/26) at the American Chemical Society meeting in Boston.

Ronald Turco, professor of agronomy and director of Purdue University's Environmental Sciences and Engineering Institute, says that four years of research on fungicides at Purdue have found that fungicides do not present a problem to the environment if they are applied according to the manufacturer's recommendations.

Turco says that it is the unnatural state of the grass on the putting green that creates the need for frequent fungicide application. "Homeowners don't need fungicides," he says. "They're expensive, and the need is not there in taller grass. It's only when you start to cut grass to the short height that putting requires that you have to apply fungicides."

Fungicides make up less than 10 percent of all the pesticides used in the United States. Although they are used on many types of plants, including vegetables and fruits, they most often are used on golf courses. A 1993 study of golf courses in Iowa found that in one season, 54,000 pounds of the active ingredient of a particular fungicide were applied.

"That's what we have to do to get grass to grow at only one-eighth of an inch in height," Turco says. "In most years fungicides are only used on greens and tee boxes. These chemicals aren't cheap. They're much more expensive than herbicides."

Such heavy use in a small area led to concerns that the fungicides might run off into surface water or seep into the ground water. Prompted by these concerns, the U.S. Golf Association asked Purdue researchers to study the fate of fungicides applied to turf, and funded the research.

In a series of experiments, both in the laboratory and out in the field, Turco and colleague Clark Throssell, profe

Contact: Steve Tally
(765) 494-9809
Purdue University

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