Without doubt it has been a demanding summer for turf managers throughout the UK and Europe. The cold, dry spring was followed by at times record breaking heat in conjunction with continued drought conditions. Maintaining high quality turf surfaces under these environmental pressures has been extremely challenging. Closely monitoring moisture levels and at the same time reducing mechanical stresses has been an effective greens management strategy for many, however as thoughts turn to autumn we need to recognise that turf that has been under higher than usual stresses will be more vulnerable to disease pressures in these next few months.
As we move into autumn so daylight hours reduce, soil temperatures fall, growth slows and all the factors that promote conditions for fusarium patch disease come into play. The impact of summer drought and heat stress on fine turf surfaces mean that this autumn we should be prepared for higher than usual levels of fusarium patch disease activity.
Predicted climatic changes mean that we face hotter, drier conditions more often but also warmer, wetter winter months. These mild, wet winter conditions favour fusarium patch disease activity and so the window of disease pressure for most turf managers has lengthened by at least several weeks compared to a decade or so ago.
At the same time pesticide legislation has tightened and products we previously had at our disposal are no longer available. Consequently, a longer period of high disease pressure combined with fewer fungicides means the chemical approach does not typically give the level of disease control we could previously have expected. We are no longer able to turn to a bottle of fungicide to check and control disease as it occurs.
Integrated turf management (ITM) policies are therefore increasingly important, bringing together several different techniques to reduce the impact of turf problems – unfortunately there is no longer one solution to deal with an outbreak of disease. Increasingly turf managers are looking to adopt a range of preventative strategies that reduce the potential for disease activity, especially in autumn when fusarium patch disease can be aggressive and surface scars can take many months to fully recover.
At Aquatrols we believe that an essential element of any integrated autumn disease management strategy is to harden and strengthen the leaf, stem and root cell walls thereby providing increased plant rigidity, alongside improving overall plant health to assist in the fight against and recovery from any disease outbreaks. To achieve this, research-led product development resulted in the launch of the Tough Turf package. This now well proven autumn and winter turf programme consists of Ferrosol, Premium K and CalSea Xtra; all products from the Aquatrols liquid nutritional range. This package has a reduced nitrogen loading and a reduced salt index to provide a rapid green up and hardening of the turf without excessive top-growth.
Liquid iron is a firm favourite in turf management and Ferrosol has now been in the marketplace for over 30 years. It was the first chelated iron introduced into the UK and its unique iron-nitrogen bonded complex formulation makes it ideal as it provides a rapid green up of turf without blackening. It acidifies the leaf and does not affect soil pH so it has been selected to form a part of this effective package in the fight against fusarium patch disease during these critical autumn and early winter months.
Liquid potassium contains potassium acetate and this unique form of potassium has greater benefits than other potassium sources. It has a superior formulation ensuring that it can be absorbed and translocated by the grass plant up to five times quicker than other conventional sources of K. It has the lowest salt indexed form of potassium available and is therefore the most soil and plant friendly formulation. Applying even at low rates provides relatively large amounts of plant available nutrition.
This low salt indexed calcium formulation has the added benefits of seaweed. This product provides a balanced supply of nitrogen, calcium and magnesium that are proven to build and strengthen cell walls in leaves, stems and roots. The use of calcium in strengthening plants to assist in the fight against disease is well documented and there is no doubt that calcium plays a major part in ensuring plant health is not only maintained, but also enhanced. The synergistic formulation ensures rapid uptake and absorption of nutrients which promotes both root and leaf development whilst also ensuring that micronutrients and applied nitrogen is utilised efficiently. The added benefits of seaweed are also well documented in turf management, with improvements in soil texture, overall plant health, increased and deeper rooting and enhanced photosynthesis.
Tough Turf Package
The Tough Turf Package involves making three to four weekly applications between October and December. Applications should be made as a tank mix with 10 litres each of Ferrosol, Premium K and CalSea Xtra in a minimum of 400 – 600 litres of water per hectare. This provides a balance of N, K, Ca, Mg and Fe and has an overall analysis of 2-0-4 + seaweed (N:P:K). The formulation has an increased synergistic effect that increases mycorrhizal populations and enhances microbial activity. By increasing uptake, absorption and availability of applied nutrients plant health is increased and plant stresses are mitigated.
Improved plant health, better turf resiliency and consequently better playing surface characteristics through autumn and winter, despite the increased potential for fusarium patch disease activity as a result of changing climatic conditions and tightening pesticide legislation.
For more information, please contact your local Aquatrols Account Manager.