Week 5 - Lockdown unlocks to reveal new results
As the Lockdown Trial enters Week 5, signs are that the country is beginning to unlock, reports STRI Research Operations Manager, Dr Christian Spring.
Golf courses opened in England and Wales last week, and the good weather meant that tee times were booked up from dawn til dusk!
A quick re-cap on the trial itself: it is situated at STRI’s trial ground, at Bigley in Yorkshire and is being run on behalf of Syngenta with support from ICL.
The trial is designed to examine lower intensity management strategies at a time when golf courses have been closed and only low intensity management is possible. It is now aiming to adapt and reflect changing management practices as courses start to reopen, but often still with reduced staff availability and cost constraints.
The trial is split into three mowing programmes: five days a week; three days a week and one day a week. Within this we have four frequencies of Primo Maxx II applications, all at 0.4 l/ha:
- No Primo Maxx II
- Primo Maxx II at 7-day interval
- Primo Maxx II at 50 GDD intervals
- Primo Maxx II at 100 GDD intervals
Mowing height was originally set at 5 mm, to reflect reduced mowing opportunity and the need to maintain good plant health. However, this has been reduced to 4 mm in response to the resumption of play in England.
The trial was four weeks old on Friday 15 May. That triggered a second scheduled monthly application of Qualibra and Seamax. That supplied a small amount of nutrient, alongside a wetting agent which is proving invaluable during this dry spell.
Growing degree day accumulation hit the mid-forties and mid-nineties for two of our treatments on Friday, 50 and 100 GDD, triggering the decision to make these applications, in combination with the Qualibra and Seamax. This fits in with the low intensity policy of tank-mixing where possible, to reduce the number spray applications required.
It should also be noted that GDD should be used as a guide for spray applications. The experience from the trial is to target applications to fall within a range, such as 45 – 55 GDD, and apply when convenient and appropriate - taking into account weather forecasts, weekends, staff availability etc.
Results from the trial continue to demonstrate efficacy of Primo for regulating growth and, based on assessments using a prism gauge, it is having a positive effect on evenness of turf.
Plant health continues to flourish in plots mown once per week, even with the shock of cutting height reduction. However, assessments of evenness demonstrate that playing quality is not where it should be in these plots. Mowing 3 times per week is striking a good balance between plant health and playing quality and is achievable within a low intensity management programme.