STMA Featured Speakers of the Month

STMA’s Conference Education Committee is working hard to put together an exciting and informative education program for the 2022 Conference in Savannah, Georgia! Each month, speakers presenting at the conference will be featured. Don’t miss the networking and educational opportunities offered this year!

Dr. Gregg Munshaw is a director of agronomy for Pratum Seed Companies. He will be presenting “Sports Field Grass Selection to Reduce Inputs.”

Perception has become reality in terms of chemical and fertilizer applications to sports fields across the country. Even if a product is being used properly and in the safest manner possible, the perception still exists that the inputs applied to sports fields are either hurting the environment or are unsafe for our kids to play on. Because of these perceptions, restrictions are being imposed by local governments in the northern U.S. as well as in Canada. There is a strong likelihood that we will continue to see increased chemical and fertilizer limitations across the country in the coming years. This presentation is not to promote reducing inputs in the green industry, rather it’s focus is on how improved genetics in all grass species can help to reduce inputs and help change the perception that sports field management is inherently bad. I will focus on grass options for sports fields and discuss specific cultivars, blends, and mixes that have been shown to thrive in tough environments with little or no chemical assistance.

By attending this session, participants will:

  • Learn how improved cultivars can reduce the need for additional chemicals, fertilizer, and water.
  • Discuss the pros and cons of different grasses as well as a list of cultivars that have been shown to require fewer inputs including their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Learn specific management practices for these improved cultivars including establishment of, or renovation to a new low input cultivar.

Dr. Munshaw will also be presenting “Save the Date! Month-By-Month Management Plans for Parks and Rec” with Brian Winka, CSFM.

Many sports field managers at the park and rec, high school, small college, etc. level can get bogged down in the weeds when it comes to scheduling and being prepared for agronomic tasks on sports fields. Further, as more and more facilities deal with budget cuts and reduced staff, it becomes increasingly important to have a plan in place to maximize your budget and your labor. Not only do sports field managers need to schedule specific agronomic practices throughout the year, they often times must be prepared for these practices months in advance by ordering the necessary products and equipment. This presentation will be a monthly breakdown of specific tasks that should be considered. We will include the challenges of managing both grassed and skinned areas of fields. The recommendations in this presentation will be based on a significant number of years of hands on experience managing parks and rec fields as well as many years of offering advice through consulting and extension activities.

By attending this session, participants will:

  • Learn how to be an efficient manager with agronomics, planning, and staff.
  • Understand best management practices for consistently producing quality and safe fields.
  • Learn how planning ahead can not only benefit your fields but can also maximize your budget.

Dr. Bryan Hopkins is a full professor at Brigham Young University. He will be presenting “Chemicals (e.g., Glyphosate) Exposure for Employees and Players: Health Concern?”

Recent legal actions have resulted in alarming concerns for the general public and for those using pesticides and fertilizers. Most notably, there are serious legal, insurance, etc. concerns with use of glyphosate (Roundup®). Many facilities are banning fertilizers and/or pesticides. Often, these decisions are based on emotion and hysteria rather than facts. What are the real facts about public exposure to chemicals? What precautions need to be taken to minimize risk? What resources are available to help alleviate founded and unfounded concerns?

By attending this session, participants will learn about:

  • Fundamentals of environmental toxicology.
  • Facts on public exposure to pesticides and fertilizers.
  • Resources to educate the public on pesticide and fertilizer safety issues.

Dr. Hopkins will also be presenting “Biostimulants: What are they and how to use them?”

Biostimulants are increasingly being promoted, with a wide variety of products being sold in the turfgrass markets. This is the fastest growing sector among the fertilizer industry. What does adding various biostimulants do for turfgrass and what is just “snake oil” tactics? These questions will be answered showing the results of various research trials, as well as demystifying the science behind this latest promotion.

After attending the session, participants will be able to answer the following questions:

  • What are biostimulants and what are the 7 categories of these products?
  • What are legitimate uses of biostimulants?
  • How to recognize when a biostimulant will not be beneficial in sports field management?