PACE Turf, the turf management information service, offers five suggestions for recession-proofing your turf maintenance budget.

Five things to recession-proof your turf-maintenance budget

5. Reduce fertilizer costs by keeping track of nitrogen levels in the soil. Larry Stowell, Ph.D., co-founder of PACE Turf, suggests that you request analysis of total soil nitrogen and ammonium when you conduct your twice-a-year soil tests. Target a minimum of 3 ppm and a maximum of 20 ppm for total nitrogen, and a maximum of 7 ppm for ammonium nitrogen, he says, pointing out that soil guidelines and related recommendations are available at, the PACE Turf website.

4. Further reduce your fertilizer needs by accounting for the amount of “free” nitrogen you already have in your system. This includes soil organic matter, which can release significant amounts of nitrogen (particularly during warm weather). Based on the PACE Turf soil database, the average nitrogen release per year from organic matter is 1.5 lb. N/1000 sq. ft. on greens and 3.8 lb. N/1000 sq. ft. for fairways. Wendy Gelernter, Ph.D., also co-founder of PACE Turf, says, “If your organic matter levels are high—above 5 percent on fairways—then even more nitrogen can be released.”

3. Focus on fairways and roughs for the biggest cost reductions. Since fairway/rough acreage is typically more than 95 percent of the turf on a golf course, Gelernter says that “Even very small reductions in water use, fertilizers or pesticides can make a big impact on the financial bottom line.”

2. Decrease water and maintenance costs by reducing the turf acreage in out-of-play or under-utilized rough areas. Stowell says, “We’re finding that in some drought-stricken areas, superintendents have begun to remove turf from non-landing areas in fairways and roughs. Of course, the support of greens committees, members and management was obtained, in writing, before these steps were taken.”

And the top suggestion from PACE Turf to recession-proof your budget and maintenance plan this year is to become an eMember of PACE Turf. Just in time for this recessionary year, Stowell and Gelernter announce a new, paperless eMembership priced at $275/year, a $50 savings over regular membership. PACE Turf eMembers receive all the benefits of regular membership, but with all services available exclusively online or via email. These include 24/7 access to the PACE Turf state-of-the-art member website, emailed Weather Alerts and Updates, online management guidelines, archives, photo gallery and forums—all services designed to help you better manage your turf while maintaining your budgets. To become an eMember of PACE Turf, visit and check “eMembership” on the online membership form.

PACE Turf is a membership organization that provides research, education and information services to the turf management community. Founded in 1993 by Wendy Gelernter, Ph.D. and Larry Stowell, Ph.D., the PACE Turf mission is to provide expert, science-based advice to turf managers so they may develop management programs that are effective, economical and agronomically sound.