Conservation Matters June 2014

The Texas Land, Water and Wildlife Connection

Keeping landscapes in shape: There’s an app for that

Keeping landscapes in shape: There’s an app for that

Many tools are available for turf managers to help monitor soil or weather conditions, diagnose turf problems or even take the guesswork out of selecting the best-suited grass type for the shade environment, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Research turf expert.

Dr. Ben Wherley, an assistant professor for turfgrass science/ecology with AgriLife Research and the Texas A&M University Soil and Crop Science Department in College Station, demonstrated some of the new tools and technologies available to attendees of the turf and landscape industry at the recent Turf, Landscape and Irrigation Expo at the Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Dallas.

Whether it is shade, pH, salinity, soil compaction, air circulation, soil type, spray application, lawn size or soil moisture, Wherley said there are an increasing number of helpful apps and tools available for professionals, such as landscapers, golf course superintendents and athletic field managers, as well as homeowners, since most of the devices are reasonably priced.

Some iPhone or iPad apps that are handy, he said, are:

  • Sunseeker app allows a person to enter any date and determine the exact trajectory of the sun for that date, helpful in determining how many hours of direct sunlight will reach a given area.
  • Planimeter app allows a landscaper to pull up a GPS map of a client’s home and drop pins on the corners of their property to get a quick, accurate estimate of the size of their lawn.
  • Landscape and Garden Calculator app helps the landscaper or do-it-yourselfer calculate the quantity of materials, such as fertilizer and mulch needed for any given area, as well as fence lengths, spaces between items and angles if needed.
  • Turfgrass Management app is designed for the southern U.S. and has pictures and information for all types of insects, pests and diseases.
  • SoilWeb app allows anyone to access the GPS-based system, identify their location and determine what soil type is there.

The tools or devices Wherley demonstrated include a wind meter, daily light integral or DLI meters, quantum light sensor, soil profile sampler, soil moisture meters or soil probes, turf thermometer and electrical conductivity meter.

“These are just a handful of some of the latest tools and technologies that have enhanced the capacity of today’s turfgrass professional to more effectively diagnose issues and better manage high quality greenscapes,” Wherley said.

For more information, read the full AgriLife TODAY article.

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