I'm writing from sunny Bangkok, where it is Friday morning. Thank you for signing up to the MLSN newsletter. I'm sending this out to recipients in 27 different countries. I receive many inquiries about this topic, the recent seminar at the Golf Industry Show about MLSN was fully subscribed, and of the various topics I write about at the Viridescent blog, those concerning fertilizer consistently get the most views. Because there seems to be plenty of interest, I started this newsletter to serve as another source of information about MLSN.
First, a few links.
1. To read more about MLSN, these are some good places to start:
2. The slides from the MLSN Guidelines and Growth Potential seminar at the Golf Industry Show, and coming up at the Canadian Golf Course Management Conference, are now available for viewing on Slideshare.
For the handouts and other information about the seminar, see the PACE Turf Super Journal post on MLSN and GP at the 2017 GIS.
And I know lots of places are using MLSN and getting great results, but are not writing blog posts about it. I've got a request. If you know of any blog posts or articles by turfgrass managers, about their experiences using MLSN, please let me know. I'd like to compile a list of these, so that I can refer people to these tutorials or reports that have been written by turfgrass managers.
4. If you are really into the details, and also want to see the raw data behind the MLSN guidelines, and the equations and code used to calculate the guidelines, please see our preprint on Minimum soil nutrient guidelines for turfgrass developed from Mehlich 3 soil test results, and see the files in the associated Github folder.
Now for a little story about the very start of the MLSN guidelines. It was five years ago this month, in February 2012, that we came up with the MLSN name. We had been working on this for a while. Larry was preparing for the Bouyoucos Conference to be held in Philadelphia in May 2012, and he would present the first MLSN guidelines there.
Larry and I had been in discussion about soil testing and fertilizer recommendations since I was in graduate school. I was not comfortable with existing guidelines. And I thought the PACE Turf guidelines were too high. At the time I was looking at K to be 50 ppm or higher, P to be 35 ppm or higher, but I had not systematically tried to make a new set of guidelines. I didn't like the existing ones, I was using my own idiosyncratic method, and then Larry hit on the idea that became MLSN.
PACE Turf had thousands of samples (soil test data) from good-performing turf from their soil testing business. ATC had thousands of samples from good-performing turf from our soil testing business. All the samples were from Brookside Labs, and all used the same method. Could we make use of these data somehow to find new nutrient guidelines? So we started looking at the data, and making lots of calculations (described here), and that became the MLSN guidelines. But, we needed a name.
The best I could think of was "Turf Performance Requirement." I was always focused on how much we need to have good turf. I guess that would have been the TPR guidelines. Larry came up with the "Minimum Levels for Sustainable Nutrition," to emphasize that that this is a minimum amount. "We know higher levels are fine," he wrote to me in February 2012, and "reducing inputs is really the only reason" to have lower recommendations. We were both fine with MLSN as a name, so that's what we went with, although we have always kept a slightly different focus. I've focused on supplying just what the grass uses, and the MLSN approach does that, while making sense for the type of soils (sandy ones!) that grasses are grown in today. PACE Turf has that approach together with an emphasis on reduced inputs and costs compared to conventional guidelines. This collaborative approach on the MLSN guidelines has worked well, and has made sense to turfgrass managers all over the world.
But we did not necessarily think it would be this way. Larry signed off that e-mail from five years ago with this: "Thanks for working on this. I think we are going to make a valuable contribution, but, I have low hopes of widespread adoption." From those low hopes we started with, I am happy to see so many people around the world making use of, and getting the desired results, with the MLSN guidelines. I am happy to see a section on MLSN in the 5th Edition of Fundamentals of Turfgrass Management. A sold out seminar at the Golf Industry Show. People sharing excellent results with the #MLSN hashtag on Twitter. And what I expect the long term result will be, which is getting the same or better turf conditions, with less cost, fewer inputs, and less mental effort focused on turfgrass nutrition. That frees a bit of one's mind to focus on other matters, and I hope, makes the job easier.
That's all for this first MLSN newsletter. I plan to send these a few times a year to share updates, stories, and developments related to the MSLN guidelines and their use. If you want more info from me about turfgrass management in general, you can sign up for the ATC newsletter here.
Asian Turfgrass Center