Monday, August 23, 2010

Turfgrass Mathematics Around the World

Some of the best parts of my internship experiences are actually learning how to use what I have learned in school. Being able to fully begin to realize the application of my years of schooling and hours of studying for tests makes me truly appreciate my education.

Learning turfgrass identification, and how to read soil tests all seemed like I was just studying while in school. Now that I have begun to work with various types of grasses, my ability to identify different species has become very handy. I have also worked with the superintendents here on interpreting soil tests and learning how they make fertility adjustments. But what I believe to be one of the greatest skills I learned in school is all the calculations used in managing turfgrass.

Calibrating a sprayer or fertilizer spreader was a skill I really got to practice a lot while on my internships and it was a great way for me to apply what I had learned in school, and finally get some hands on experience with performing the calibrations. Ever since I took Dr. Christians Hort 351 Fundamentals of Turfgrass Management I, and was introduced to his book, I have not gone to any internship without taking the book along.

While I have been in Hong Kong, I have also had to adapt to using the International System of Units (SI) or Metric System. When I first came here it was unusual for me to think of temperatures being 32 C degrees as hot (89.6 F) or to be able to think of our mower heights in millimeters. I now have to think more about if a 12mm mower should be used for tees, green surrounds, fairway step-cut, par-3 fairways, or tee banks (0.4724 inches, used for green surrounds.)

I would encourage all superintendents who have interns, to ask them to perform chemical calibrations and calculations, and work with students on learning how to do it properly. Not only does this help the intern be able to learn a great skill, but also it teaches them about responsible chemical application.

For those interested, here are some useful conversions and measurements I have become familiar with while using the SI system:

It may be a great teaching tool to challenge interns to perform calibrations in both United States Customary Units and in International System of Units. If you are interested in more conversions, here are some great sites I have found: (this is by far my favorite math/conversion related site)

For those of you with Windows Vista or Windows 7, there are also many Gadgets available for download that make conversions on your desktop incredibly easy.

Damian Richardson

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