ICL integral to fairways recovery

Lucy Nichollsin Chemicals & Fertilisers

Ian Cambridge, Course Manager at Saffron Walden Golf Club in Cambridge, has revealed how the correct advice, seed, and nutritional products from ICL have been integral in helping the fairways recover from drought.

The infamous drought of 2018 proved to be problematic for greenkeepers and course managers throughout the UK and Ian Cambridge was no exception.

"Back in the summer of 2018, like most golf courses, we lost a high proportion of our grass sward on the fairways due to the drought," he said. "We had overseeded in the spring of 2019 without great success and the fairways were quite poor through the early part of the season."

Looking for a solution, Ian contacted ICL and Andrew Pledger (Technical Area Sales Manager) visited the East Anglian club. He and Ian walked around the course looking at the conditions and probed into the soil to see what could be done. It was at this point that Andrew suggested a programmed approach which centred around ICL's recently launched Vitalnova Links bio-stimulant.

Vitalnova Links consists of a unique combination of concentrated seaweed extract Vitalnova SeaMax and the proven biostimulant Vitalnova Blade. In turn, the formulation brings together and accentuates the benefits of both products.

Vitalnova Links was combined with a wetting agent and 8kg of a water soluble 35-0-5 fertilizer.

Andrew also advised, that due to not having any irrigation capacity, Ian should not overseed again until the autumn. This time, however, Andrew recommended that Ian use a multi-blend mixture consisting of rye, fescue and SSMG (Smooth Stalk Meadow Grass).

"The grass species that we lost the most of was the fescue and we were unsure of what we should do," said Ian. "However, Andrew explained that by using a blend of three different species we would be spreading our bets a bit more with any future drought.

"The nutritional and wetting agent programme had actually helped with some natural ingress of our existing sward. This helped lower the amount of seed that we needed to use in our overseeding that autumn and it was a great help with lowering the costs. The seed mix we chose was the ICL ProSelect 2 Tees/Fairways mix and we had great germination success."

ProSelect 2 Tees/Fairways is proving to be an extremely popular choice with golf courses throughout the UK and beyond. The mixture is a blend of fine fescues and perennial ryegrass which creates a turf surface that can recover strongly from divoting.

The blend contains Traction smooth-stalked meadow grass and Torsion TRT perennial ryegrass to provide rhizomatous and Turf Repairing Tiller (TRT) growth for extra durability and recovery from divots. It is renowned for providing great colour, all-round disease tolerance and close mowing tolerance.

The new nutritional programme and seed were put to the test in 2020 when the drought inevitably returned.

"In the spring of 2020, the fairways were filling in very nicely, however, the conditions became very droughty once again," said Ian. "The difference this time was that we were already on a wetting agent and nutritional programme, and yes the turf browned off but when the rain returned in August the sward came straight back.

"Our over-seeding requirements were reduced, we believe, due to the choice of the quality seed and the advice from Andrew on our nutritional programme."

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