The Groundsman

January 2014

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the Groundsman January 2014 IOG ADVICE 27 Ask The Expert The IOG's panel of experts answers your questions regarding groundsmanship issues, turf care advice, careers guidance or training matters There has been an increase in press reports of nematode activity at sports venues recently. What is a nematode, what does it look like, what conditions does it thrive in and how do you control it? There are in fact many different types of 'nematode' in existence; the phylum 'Nematoda' numbers many thousands of individual species, with many more believed yet undiscovered. So the initial problem is one of identification. If you have a particular pest creating a specific problem you need to determine what that is. While size varies, the majority will require viewing through a microscope to confirm species, but generally you are looking at something resembling a transparent tube inside another transparent tube, rather than a segmented body like an earthworm. Many nematode species are benign in relation to sports turf. There are particular groups that live within soil and within these are both what are known as 'free-living' individuals and parasitic types ie. not free-living as they require a host. Diets can encompass dead organic matter, bacteria, fungi and other nematode species. Plant parasitic types of nematode are clearly the ones of most concern to ourselves with a distinction possible between endoparasitic species (entering plant roots and living with the tissues) and ectoparasitic ones. How they exactly behave depends on the species, some causing the frequently mentioned 'root knots' others leaving 'stubby' roots, similar plant deformities or dieback. Nematode symptoms can vary. Different shades of yellowing of the turf, wilting, thinning, dead patches of grass, these are all signs that could be ascribed to other turf problems such as disease, drought or reduced fertility. It would usually be necessary to analyse the soil of a potentially infected area to determine whether the problem is nematode based or not. They may indeed be present in Sheath feeding an area yet not ultimately be the cause of the issue. As they are a population they will act accordingly with migration and appearance in particular locations, and their numbers will be impacted by environmental factors such as temperature, moisture levels and a particular correlation to sand-based soils. As with disease, an already stressed turf may be especially at risk. Eagle Green Care (EcoSpray) available through Rigby Taylor is a MAPP-approved nematode control for use on managed amenity turf and, as with any integrated pest management strategy, focus should also be on developing a strong and healthy turf, with a root system that could potentially withstand any attack. The use of biostimulants has been shown to be of great benefit to turf that is under nematode stress. Please contact membership@iog.org if you have a personal query or would like to share your views with our readers – we'd love to hear from you

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