The State of Connecticut has passed new laws banning the use of pesticides on school grounds including athletic fields up to the eighth grade. The new pesticide ban will have a direct effect on all current maintenance practices being performed on Deland Field and alternative methods of turf management will have to be implemented. One alternative method is to implement good cultural practices along with using organic fertilizer sources in conjunction with biological pest controls.
This past February twelve towns applied to the State of Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection to host the Organic Land Care Pilot Project and Watertown learned last week that it had been chosen. In a cooperative effort with the State of Connecticut DEP Pollution Control Division and their consultant, the Connecticut Northeast Organic Fanning Association (NOFA), the Town has decided to only use organic materials on Deland Field starting this 2008 season. The organic lawn care project is an extremely viable alternative to using synthetic products but the appropriate organic nutrients and biological controls will require a few years to build up in the soil to realize the full benefit.
In the meantime, some facts that must be known are that organic lawn care methods are usually more costly to implement initially. There will be some weed infestation due to wear and other environmental factors instead of applying a herbicide. If an insect infestation occurs, reseeding and or sod installation of the affected area will have to be performed instead of applying an insecticide. If a disease outbreak occurs, the law and order of natural selection will influence the survival of the specific turf grass host instead of applying a fungicide. Turf grass mowing heights and mowing frequency will also be changed when certain environmental stresses are placed on the turfgrass.
The organic lawn care pilot project will be partially funded through a $5,000 grant received by the United States Department of Environmental Protection and will help the State of Connecticut DEP and Town of Watertown develop a model plan for all towns to transition to a more environmentally-friendly and beneficial way to manage turf.