Can sand dressing provide a solution to worm casts?

Lucy Nichollsin General Interest

Mansfield Sand has revealed that an increasing number of sports turf mangers are relying on a sand dressing as a solution to earthworm casting.

"After over three decades of greenkeeping and a few years of winter sports turf management, I am fully aware of the frustration caused by worm casts," said Gary Cunningham, Football & Golf Sales Representative for Mansfield Sand.

"Whilst most earthworm activity goes unnoticed and has a role to play in soil management, its activity can have a detrimental impact on managed amenity grass surfaces. Besides being unsightly, it can lead to the deterioration in playing surfaces - allowing weed infestation, less resistance to turf disease and damage to mowing equipment. All of these inevitably also lead to increased management costs."

Historically, surface casting was controlled by various chemical solutions. However, over recent years these options have been withdrawn from the market due to environmental protection concerns. This has left turf managers looking for alternative solutions to an age-old inconvenience.

There are several great articles and studies which have been published, and in each situation, sand dressing is shown to supress casting worm activity to some extent on managed areas.

Whilst this is not a quick fix and does depend on several factors such as local climate, soil temperature and time of year, what is apparent is that a sustained programme of sand dressing problem areas does reduce casting worm activity. In turn, casts become a sandier loam which can be easily dispersed without any smearing. This will also lessen the material build-up and not cause any issues with mowing equipment.

Mansfield Sand provides two well-known grades of silica sand to the sports market, MM35 and MM40 - which are sourced directly from the company's Two Oaks quarry in Mansfield.

"Regular topdressing with MM35 or MM40 can help to manage casting worm activity," continued Gary. "It can certainly help to make it easier once you build up the level of sand in the rootzone. "

"Furthermore, using the right grade of high-quality sand is vital to the overall health and performance of a managed sports surface. Therefore, sports facilities that regularly apply sand dressings as part of their management programme, benefit from improved rootzones leading to better drainage and plant health."

"We may never be able to supress casting earthworm activity completely, but more and more turf managers are significantly reducing them by topdressing with sand."

From winter sports pitches, golf courses, bowling greens and all amenity turf areas - Mansfield Sand has a solution for all, and the products have long been relied upon at stadium and training ground facilities; championship golf courses and world class show jumping arenas.

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