The Groundsman

April 2016

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Visit for more information and digital editions TECHNICAL UPDATE 33 the Groundsman April 2016 Oxygen diffuses more slowly into wet, dense soil. This slow rate of diffusion will drop oxygen levels several per cent in just a few hours. When oxygen soil volume is reduced below 12 per cent to 15 per cent most plants suffer. Reduced oxygen also modifies the decay process (organic matter and thatch reduction), as well as the oxidation process of soils. As soil oxygen concentrations become limited, anaerobic microbes take over. This shift in microbial populations, from primarily aerobic to anaerobic organisms, introduces a new set of soil reactions. Some of the new soil reactions are an increase of partially oxidised organic acids, alcohols, ethylene gas and inorganic compounds. These compounds build and become toxic to plants. Iron and sulphur or manganese and sulphur can precipitate which contributes to plugging of soil pores and can lead to the formation of black layer, with an increase in pathogenic bacteria. Nitrogen conversion is slowed and tends to accumulate in the upper root zone with the potential to make the plant more vulnerable to disease pressure. Any fertiliser applied to anaerobic soils will not be effectively broken down and used. They will either leach out or worse still, build up in the organic matter, which can cause a host of problems if not correctly managed. The breakdown of organic matter will be less, which further promotes black layer by blocking drainage and gas exchange. Therefore, when soils become waterlogged, movement of oxygen into soil pores is severely reduced and aerobic soil organisms and grass roots will rapidly use the available oxygen needed for normal aerobic respiration. As oxygen becomes depleted from the soil, conditions change and the population of anaerobic microbes increases, which reduces the efficiency of the whole growing medium, as it has become more anaerobic. Correct use of wetting agents It is also worth noting that oxygen rich soils are far more efficient at controlling thatch build up, and that the correct use of wetting agents can also severely impact the rootzone. The use of penetrating wetting agents after heavy rainfall is a useful tool for the grounds manager as more water in the upper rootzone results in less space for air. Furthermore we can create a food source for the microbial population in our soils, using the Floratine product, EON BIO. This is a combination of humic acid full of beneficial bacteria and mycorrhizal fungi. It is delivered in a prill form which means it is easy to apply with top dressing or granular fertiliser. EON BIO is 100 per cent organic and contains the highest concentrations of soluble humic acids available. These humic acids are the most biologically active and plant stimulatory known. The bio editions into this blend include mycorrhiza I fungi and multiple forms of bacteria, which solubilise phosphates, are rhizo-bacterial, nitrogen fixing bacteria and other beneficial bacteria. These additives are of particular benefit to turf where balanced levels of these biological enhancers are difficult to maintain and yet essential. In summary: we need to balance our soils to get the best performance. This can be achieved with chemical aeration for example Oxy-Rush and physical aeration, a food source for our bacteria and the correct application of wetting agents, being mindful of using a retaining or a penetrant where appropriate. In instances where we are dealing with cold temperatures, water logged soils and compaction we can still use Floratine Foliar feeds by passing the rootzone and providing the plant with all the necessary nutrition. David Snowden is managing director of Agronomics. He comes from five generations of farmers and has spent the last 25 years in the sports turf industry. Tel: 01765 658021 l David says: "We need to balance our soils to get the best performance" Strong green turf roots

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