The Groundsman

March 2013

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the Groundsman March 2013 Moss in grass Turf colour response may be good, but the excessive shoot growth that can occur might result in a weak, diseaseprone plant. Nutritional needs When soil temperatures are low, but air temperatures higher, liquids can bypass the roots altogether and provide nutrients directly to the plant via the leaf. Certain nutrient sources like calcium, potassium and iron can be applied in liquid form to harden cells and strengthen leaves, helping to resist effects of stress caused by early season renovations. Products such as Liquid Turf Hardener (Calcium), Vertex NK (potassium) and Seamac ProTurf (iron) have been proven effective in UK trials, providing a strong, healthy spring sward. Ammonium and nitrate forms of nitrogen can be taken directly into the plant without the need for any conversion by soil microbes. As such, they will aid early season growth even in cool soil temperatures. Soluble materials such as Solufeed 15-0-25+Mg provide available nitrogen and potash and can be readily tank mixed with liquid irons such as Seamac Pro Turf and applied as an extremely cost-effective liquid spray. Rates as low as one to two bags per hectare provide a gentle application of nitrogen, and almost twice as much plant hardening potash. Turf saturated by Spring rainfall doesn't easily allow for liquid applications to be made. Saturated soils need to be vented or aerated if possible to input oxygen, which in turn will aid plant health to facilitate nutrient uptake. TECHNICAL UPDATE 27 Always use cool season nitrogen early on in the season and make sure to harden turf against disease, but don't over-apply nutrients, especially when the soil lacks oxygen. An ideal way to establish Spring growth is to use a combination of both foliar and granular nutrition. On the granule front, good levels of phosphorus in the soil will encourage rooting over this period and potassium can be helpful to strengthen grass plants, so a low nitrogen with phosphate and potash fertiliser can be an ideal choice. For fine turf, such as bowling greens and even cricket squares, a homogenous mini granule like Greentec 6-5-18+4Fe+Mg provides all this, plus iron and magnesium for strength and colour. The split of ammonium and nitrate nitrogen ensures response even under cooler temperatures. Application rates can be lowered to achieve gentle but strong, hard growth. Rapid regeneration If moss is a problem then another Greentec formulation, 4-0-4+9Fe Mosskiller Pro, can be helpful. The balanced NK analysis is an ideal spring starter as well as an efficient method of controlling moss. Always apply after cutting to allow the maximum time to treat the moss before re-cutting. Dead moss should be raked out and overseeded where required. The same principles apply on winter sports areas that have been ravaged through the winter and are now in need of rapid regeneration.Controlled release fertilisers, such as Multigreen, are very versatile, its fast start portion offering cool temperature availability of nutrients while the coated portion releases over the coming four to seven months depending on the analysis selected. This once per growing season application can be extremely cost effective and is made more efficient due to Multigreen's unique ability to deal with the British climate. As nutrient release is regulated by soil temperature alone it is unaffected by increased rainfall – avoiding excessive growth during wetter periods when cutting may prove difficult or time-consuming. While there is a lot one can do to bring about a successful Spring recovery, there is nothing better than the effects of a healthy fertiliser programme implemented the previous autumn. If grass swards go into the winter in good condition, building carbohydrate reserves, they will respond more rapidly in terms of growth and colour during the early Spring. On winter sports pitches and other coarse turf areas, the use of a controlled release fertiliser prill such as Multigreen 20-0-32 can provide a 'Spring carryover' of nutrients into this important time. These autumn applied nutrients are present in the soil to be used as soon as the plant needs them, rather than having to rely on the correct timing of supplementary applications in the spring. 20-0-32 releases its nutrients over a six to seven month period according to, and in line with, soil temperature alone.After application an initial 'fast start' portion encourages a strong, healthy sward going into winter. When soil temperatures fall to 6oC release from the remaining coated prill will cease and it will remain intact in the soil, ready for the temperatures to increase again. When this happens release is initially very gentle, matching the growth requirements of the plant and importantly providing low levels of nitrate nitrogen that can rapidly be utilised to stimulate recovery. l Greentec Granule and diagram illustrating Greentec function Eddie Seaward at the AELTC Visit www.iog.org for more information and digital editions

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