Week Three – Seeing even and effective regulation
Restrictions designed to restrict the spread of Covid 19 are now in Week 6, and the ‘Lockdown Trial’ at STRI has moved into Week 3.
The trial, on behalf of Syngenta, is designed to examine ways of optimising turf health through lower intensity management programmes, reports STRI Research Operations Manager, Dr Christian Spring.
Latest results are following a very similar pattern set last week. Height of cut measurements, made through a prism gauge, along with clipping yield measurements, have demonstrated that Primo Maxx II is regulating growth effectively.
Assessments of evenness of turf regrowth, also made through the prism gauge, have demonstrated that Primo Maxx II has also improved evenness of turf.
Visual assessments of turf quality and turf colour continue to demonstrate that low intensity management, mowing once per week, has improved plant health.
However, this is where a balance must be struck. Plant health is good, but our measurements of evenness have demonstrated that plant health does not equal playing quality.
To achieve good playing quality, management will have to intensify. At the moment, from the trial results, mowing three times per week (above) looks like a good balance.
Growing Degree Days
We have also been monitoring progress of Growing Degree Days (GDD) in Bingley, through the Syngenta GDD Calculator which can be found on the GreenCast website.
The trial is divided into three mowing programmes; five days a week, three days a week and one day a week. Within these mowing blocks are four rates of Primo Maxx II: no treatment, Primo Maxx II applied every seven days, Primo Maxx II applied every 50 GDD, and finally applied every 100 GDD.
On Friday we reached 45 GDD from the trial start and made the decision to apply Primo Maxx II for this treatment programme – 50 GDD was actually achieved on Sunday.
We were slightly early with the application, as the seven day treatments were also being applied and would minimise the number of application operations, which reflects current real practice.
It should be noted that the GDD model is there to help – not to fix specific days for specific applications. Look to apply during a GDD window that is practical and works for you.
At the beginning of last week, lack of water and lack of nutrition meant turf health and quality took a dip.
A low rate application of ICL Sierraform GT Spring Start 16-0-16 was made on 27 April. This is a slow release fertiliser with a proportion of readily available nutrient. This delivered much needed nitrogen to the turf immediately and will release the rest gradually over the course of an eight week period.
We could have chosen different methods of nutrient application, but this product fits in with the ethos of low intensity management for this trial, whilst ensuring the turf is healthy and can be brought into play quickly once restriction ease.
Whilst the immediate future is still unclear, there is a good chance that social golf will be the one of the first sports up and running as restrictions are eased. As this happens, management of golf courses will have to intensify.