Embracing Integrated Turf Management for turf excellence

Turf management is more than just maintaining turf.

4 mins

Integrated Turf Management (ITM) has been shaping the landscape of professional turf management, combining proven practices with the latest advancements in turf products and technologies. Dr. Andy Owen, International Technical Manager at ICL, provides insight into how ITM is more than just maintaining turf. “It’s about creating tailored programs that consider the unique conditions of each area to produce the healthiest and most sustainable turf surfaces.


What is Integrated Turf Management?

Integrated Turf Management (ITM) is not a new concept, but rather a refined method that has been gaining popularity in recent years. Dr. Andy Owen, International Technical Manager Turf & Landscape at ICL, explains the importance and benefits of this comprehensive approach to turf management.

“Integrated Turf Management, or ITM, is essentially a representation of good turf management,” Andy mentions. It combines the best turf products and technologies with optimal management to achieve superior turf surfaces tailored to specific site conditions. It’s the blend of good cultural practices that ensures the best outcome for each turf area.


Dr Andy Owen takes a soil sample at a golf course in the Netherlands.


Adoption of Integrated Turf Management

Most turf managers already incorporate some form of ITM, Andy emphasizes. These are the professionals that design turf programs tailored to their sites, which can include applications of fertilizers, wetting agents, biostimulants, and other necessary treatments. Depending on site-specific needs, additional measures such as overseeding or species modifications might also be incorporated.

ICL’s focus on ITM originates from two primary reasons. Firstly, research conducted by ICL places a strong emphasis on integrated practices, showcasing the best combinations of products. “It’s about synergizing all components for optimal turf results,” Dr. Owen elaborates. In addition to this, there are regulatory motivations.


With plant protection products becoming less accessible, there’s been a notable shift towards a more knowledge-driven, integrated approach to turf management.



Sustainability and ITM

Historically, some turf managers have over-relied on plant protection products, including fungicides and pesticides. However, with these products becoming less accessible, there’s been a notable shift towards a more knowledge-driven, integrated approach to turf management.

Managing turf more sustainably is linked to an ITM approach. “A sustainable golf or sports club manages its surfaces to a required  standard to ensure club success. ITM should enable greenkeepers and groundsmen to continue to deliver the best surfaces both efficiently and sustainably,” says Andy. He emphasizes that being more sustainable includes environmental, economic, and societal considerations, allowing turf managers to work with the club’s long-term strategy, a part of this being responsible with all inputs.


We have already proven that we can manage dollar spot effectively reducing its occurrence and extent of outbreak with the right ITM approach.


The research

ICL’s role in advancing ITM

ICL’s commitment to ITM is evident in their extensive research. Andy: “ICL has been working on ITM approaches for over a decade and we’re continuously testing and combining products and technologies, analyzing past trials, while engaging with sales managers and customers worldwide, and staying updated on industry trends.”

With an ongoing focus on biostimulants and biological solutions, ICL is also looking at other industries for possible solutions, such as exploring the impact of horticultural treatments on turf. A good example of this is ICL’s advanced research and trials on dollar spot disease, which is seeing an uptick in occurrence in Northern Europe. Andy: “We have already proven that we can manage dollar spot effectively reducing its occurrence and extent of outbreak with the right ITM approach.”


Soil sample.


Bio-based products

A closer look at bio-based turf products

As the push for sustainable solutions continues, bio-based products like biostimulants and biofertilizers, have attracted increasing attention in the industry and are thoroughly researched and tested by ICL in possible ITM approaches.

  • Biostimulants improve plant quality by enhancing nutrient uptake or stress tolerance without adding nutrients.
  • Biofertilizers consist of microorganisms that boost nutrient supply to plants.

However, while these bio-based products show promise, Andy emphasizes that they are meant to supplement existing programs. Essential components such as proper nutrition, moisture management, and the use of up-to-date grass cultivars for over-seeding can’t be completely replaced by them.


Bio-based products show promise, but are meant to supplement existing programs that include proper nutrition, moisture management and grass cultivars.


Applying granular fertilizer on a green.



The (sustainable) significance of Integrated Turf Management

While ITM is not a new practice, its importance and benefits are becoming increasingly clear in modern turf management strategies in the golf and sports industries as well as in the landscaping market. As Andy highlights, “ITM allows a turf manager to use available tools to achieve the best possible surface, potentially more sustainably.” Adopting this integrated approach ensures not only the health and quality of the turf but also aligns with sustainable practices beneficial for the environment and society.