Reaseheath College horticulture students have joined experts in a research trial to improve the condition of the college's golf course.
The students have been regularly recording the playing quality and soil makeup of the greens. The results are compared against differing levels of maintenance, feeding and ground conditions.
It is hoped that the research will enable greens staff at the Nantwich College to draw up a management plan which will cut down on the unnecessary use of fertilizer and water by improving the soil and encouraging the growth of disease and drought resistant grasses. Ultimately it is hoped that the nine hole commercial golf course and its surrounds will be more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
The data is being collaborated by the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI) as a useful example of independent research comparing the use of biological management with physical management to overcome modern turf related problems. Two leading technical companies which specialise in sports turf plant health, Symbio and Amenity Land Solutions (ALS), are partnering the college in the trial.
Level 3 Diploma in Horticulture students who study sports turf as part of their course spend time with ecological advisors from each company learning about golf course management techniques and the importance of careful identification and selection of grasses. The condition of the four greens in the trial are assessed weekly.
Said Head Green keeper James Grundy: "This comparative trial has given our students a great opportunity to become involved in research.
"Sustainability is at the core of our greens management programme. We are aiming to encourage more native grass species which have a naturally higher tolerance to low nutrition and water shortage and a greater immunity to fungal disease. This will enable us to manage our resources more effectively and efficiently in an increasingly competitive market. At the same time it will help us to provide a better, more durable playing surface for members and a good example of best practice for the students.
"We are also focusing on improving the health of the soil so we can cut down on fertilisers. Eventually we should be managing our greens and the surrounding landscape more effectively and lessening our impact on the environment."
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Pictures :-Ecological advisor John Handley from Amenity Land Solutions takes a close look at turf roots with some of Reaseheath horticulture students.
Paul Lowe and Graham O'Connor of Symbio explain the complexities of Golf Green Health