Institutional turf is a growing end use for makers of pesticides and fertilizers, but our research shows that turf farms have been contracting.
“These segments combine to account for nearly $300 million in sales,” says director of Kline’s Agrochemicals segment Laura Mahecha, who notes that institutional turf includes K-12 schools/college campuses and athletic fields, public parks/fields, and cemeteries. “And while institutional turf’s purchases of pesticides and fertilizer are up by a compound annual average rate of over 3% over the past eight years, sales to turf farms fell by an average annual rate of 3.5% over the same time period.”
According to Mahecha, institutional turf had an estimated 7.8 million acres maintained in 2021, with a variety of pesticides and fertilizers used at schools to maintain athletic fields and recreation areas, lawns, and ornamental plantings.
“Educational facilities consume large quantities of fertilizers and herbicides and lesser amounts of insecticides, fungicides, and plant growth regulators,” she says. “Significant quantities of fertilizers and pesticides are used by public parks for their grounds maintenance operations to support high-visibility areas and recreation areas, such as softball, football, and soccer fields. Small quantities of fertilizers are purchased by cemeteries and memorial gardens, park lawns and curbing, ornamental gardens and fence lines, border zones around buildings, and parking lots for maintenance of turf and ornamental plantings.”
Turf farms have been established to supply cultured turf for planting on residential, sports, commercial, industrial, and public property throughout the United States. Acre treatments in 2021 are estimated at 1.8 million. Since turf grass species adapt to different climatic regions, turf farms provide and supply species that are best suited to local conditions. The main reason that the majority of turf farms are close to relatively large population areas is the rapid turnaround time needed from the time of sale to harvest or delivery. The number and acreage of turf farms correlate to the increase or decrease in residential demand, along with the requirement for high-quality turf on golf courses, sports areas, and recreational and commercial areas.
“In order to ensure the high quality of turf and survive the competition in the turf industry, producers are obliged to utilize the best management practices,” Mahecha says. “This requires attention to fertilization, pest control, and disease control. Throughout the growing season, most turf farms use carefully blended fertilizers to optimize growth and development. Some producers certify the turf to meet state requirements and provide customers with turf of the highest purity and uniformity. In most cases, herbicides are necessary to ensure freedom from noxious, invasive, and other kinds of weeds to meet certification requirements. A number of states also issue certificates to indicate ‘apparent freedom’ from insects, diseases, and other pests.”
More key market information and insights can be found in Kline’s Professional Turf & Ornamental Market for Pesticides and Fertilizer. The 585-page study provides a tremendous amount of detail regarding demographics including acres treated for each end use, along with prices, application rate, and cost per acre. Sales are split by region, product type, brand, and target pest/weed, enabling subscribers to analyze supplier shares from every vantage point. Kline’s product analysis provides active ingredient volumes for each end use. Coverage includes both chemical and biologically based products, and the market is segmented into landscape contractors, horticultural nurseries and greenhouses, lawn care, institutional/sports turf, turf farms, and golf courses. The report, based on hundreds of structured surveys, will be published this month. For more details about the study and how our Agrochemicals practice can help inform your business decisions, contact us.