A surge in summer temperatures, and several months of below average rainfall for many areas, has put the focus back on water management for sports turf surfaces
Whenever there is a dry spell, media attention spotlights water use on golf courses and sports turf.
Improving turf plant rooting and using an effective wetting agent and water conservation programme could still help make best use of the available resources and maintain improved playing surface quality this season.
Syngenta Business Manager, Daniel Lightfoot, highlighted that the UK's cool season grasses suffer when temperatures exceed 28°C, which has been experienced repeatedly on greens surfaces for the second two weeks of June - and more forecast for July.
"Root mass can seriously decline in hot weather, since plants cannot generate sufficient energy to maintain vegetative growth and draw upon root carbohydrate reserves," he advised. "Furthermore, if there is insufficient soil moisture in the root zone, the root hairs desiccate and die back."
Dan advocated a two-pronged approach of Primo Maxx to regulate turf growth and Qualibra to manage soil moisture, as part of an integrated approach to improve water resource utilisation and enhance turf health.
"Research has shown that Primo Maxx reduces growth by up to 40% and enhances photosynthetic activity of the plant with a greater concentration of chlorophyll in the leaf. That reduces the draw on the root mass, and keeps the turf looking green and healthy for longer over the summer," he said. "Furthermore, retaining a greater root mass makes the plants better able to take up and utilise available water and nutrients," he added. "And that's where Qualibra can prove so beneficial in periods of dry weather."
The unique combination of penetrant and polymer moves water down from the surface, and holds soil moisture in the root zone. That means that any irrigation is less susceptible to evaporation from the surface, and that playing surfaces remain firm for players.
However with more soil moisture held in the root zone, root growth is encouraged. Also, by overcoming issues of hydrophobic dry patch within the soil structure, it ensures better contact of soil moisture along the root length to enhance uptake.
The use of Qualibra could also facilitate a move to more efficient irrigation scheduling - to water less frequently but deliver more water with each application. The rapid movement of water avoids issues of surface softness, whilst the alleviation of Dry Patch symptoms can improve the consistency of playing surfaces.
Dan also pointed out that high summer temperatures frequently triggered thunderstorms, with intense rainfall and the risk of flash flooding. "With Qualibra the initial infiltration rates are fast, so heavy rainfall moves away from the surface and reduces the risk of flooding or water pooling. But holding the soil moisture in the root zone assures you get the optimum benefit from any rainfall, or irrigation," he added.
He highlighted that Primo Maxx and Qualibra should be used as part of a smart integrated approach to managing water resources and maintaining turf health. "Moisture meters and soil water deficit calculators, for example, will help to ensure irrigation scheduling can be targeted more precisely to specific conditions," he advised. "Furthermore, practical measures such as raising the height of cut where practical, or hand watering certain areas, can help to counter the changing climatic conditions."
Turf-specific five day weather forecasts, including soil temperatures, on the Syngenta GreenCast website (www.greencast.co.uk) could also better help greenkeepers and sports turf managers adapt strategies and make best use of available water.
"Furthermore, both Primo Maxx and Qualibra can help to alleviate stress on the turf plant, which makes it better able to withstand the effects of heat and other effects, including summer disease," said Dan. "That's better for turf health and to keep surfaces looking and playing better."
For turf specific information, visit www.greencast.co.uk.