Tiger Woods just won the US Open, so we’re all thinking about golf. One of the main reasons that communities object to have golf courses built in their areas is that, while they bring valuable tourism to the area, they also bring pesticides, which are needed to keep all that grass green and weed free. This can leach into the water table, but what if you could grow golf course quality grass WITHOUT using pesticides?

Perfectly maintained areas of turfgrass that make the game of golf possible require the constant use of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides, which are often washed into adjacent waterways by rainfall. Researchers have found that certain plants that can be used to create “living filters” at the edge of golf courses to remove harmful pesticides from the environment.

Researcher Guy Lanza says, “Turfgrass chemicals are routinely found in rivers, lakes and reservoirs as well as groundwater supplies. Once in the water, these chemicals affect the health of a wide variety of aquatic organisms, everything from bacteria and algae to fish and frogs. They may also pose a health risk to humans, but this is less certain.”

Researcher John Clark says, “Studies from golf greens have shown that 5 to 10% of the total pesticides applied are lost in runoff. In worst case conditions, this figure can be as high as 30%. We have identified plant species that can reduce the amount of certain pesticides in soil by up to 94%.” One of these is even an attractive FLOWER: Blue flag iris was the clear winner, able to reduce levels of the commonly used insecticide chlorpyriphos by 76% and levels of the widely used fungicide chlorothalonil by 94% in soil after three months of growth.

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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