ICL tank-mix on target at Temple Golf Club

Lucy Nichollsin Chemicals & Fertilisers

A fortnightly greens tank-mix consisting of Vitalnova Stressbuster, Greenmaster Liquid, Primo Maxx II and Ryder turf pigment, has proved to be a valuable base feed which has helped to reduce the use of fungicides according to Ben Kebby, Course Manager at Temple Golf Club in Berkshire.

Built on land once owned by The Knights Templar, The Temple Links, as the course was first known, was designed in 1909 by Willie Park Junior. The Club recently celebrated its 110th year anniversary and its membership base is thriving - seeing an increase from 250 to 750 in just five years.

Perhaps it is no coincidence that Ben also started at the Club five years ago but the modest Course Manager refuses to take credit for the rise in membership. It is however evident that he has implemented a number of positive changes at the Club but when asked about his success Ben instead prefers to talk about his love for Temple.

"From the very start I was as ambitious as anyone but that has changed now," he said. "As with most people, when you start in greenkeeping you want to be in charge at the world's best course overseeing the sport's most prestigious tournaments. However, since arriving at Temple I have come to the conclusion that lifestyle and happiness trumps ambition. The members here are fantastic, my boss Keith is superb and the area I live in is amazing. I am close to family and it ticks every box for me."

Ben crossed the channel where he was working as an Assistant Superintendent at a course in the West of Paris to take the position at Temple Golf Club and felt that it was a vital chapter in his greenkeeping journey. His days as an apprentice at Berkshire Golf Club may seem a lifetime ago but Ben has risen rapidly up the career ladder and claims that choosing the correct products is key, especially when it comes to the greens.

"We live and die by the standard of our greens and we are only as good as the day before," he said. "Last year we were hit quite badly with disease on the greens and I sprayed more fungicide than ever before and I just felt like I was chasing my tail - so that was one reason I went with this new tank-mix.

"The other reason for using the mix was because we had an ICL seminar here in spring last year with Andy Owen (ICL International Technical Manager) and he revealed the results of a trial he carried out in which he didn't use a fungicide application throughout the autumn to see if he could achieve acceptable standards of greens performance. By using the right technologies, an example being Vitalnova Stressbuster, and getting timing of applications correct, he was able to achieve his goal and significantly reduce disease outbreaks to an acceptable level, this prompted me to examine my own approach."

Inspired by Andy Owen's trial work and after discussing it in more detail with Matt Nutter (ICL Area Sales Manager), Ben decided to push ahead with a tank-mix which consisted of Vitalnova Stressbuster (10 L/ha), Primo Maxx II (0.3 L/ha) Greenmaster Liquid 25-0-0 (10/20 L/ha) and Ryder (1 L/ha).

"I've been using it for approximately five months now and have seen some notable improvements. For starters, drought resistance is better - I was usually putting down about 2mm a night of water as a minimum whereas this year I can run on 1mm. The moisture is now far easier to control and before using this tank-mix I had to over-water just to control it.

"Another remarkable improvement is that the disease pressure has significantly reduced, in fact so-much-so that I have not sprayed a fungicide since February. In recent weeks we have had some heavy rain and high temperatures and we've had no disease outbreak whatsoever.

In this sense my thoughts go towards Ryder and Vitalnova Stressbuster with that little bit of iron mixed into it. The foliar grouping works together really well as a preventative, and was inspired by Andy's presentation."

While Ben continues to see consistently good results from his tank-mix, he believes that ICL's continuous product research, trial work and data are essential in helping the industry to move forward.

"The trials, the studies and the explanation of data are incredibly important to me. Anyone can say they have run a trial but I am so much more comfortable going with a product which has some clear data and research behind it.

"It helps greenkeepers to move forward and to overcome obstacles. For example, I can sit here and know that if fungicides were withdrawn tomorrow, I can use the example set by ICL's trial work presented by Andy and I have the confidence to design a programme to allow the greens to perform well throughout the whole season. It is a nice position to be in."