Over 150 of Ireland's leading turf superintendents, groundsmen, agronomists and turf industry professionals attended the annual Turf Science Live event, held this year at the prestigious Carton House Golf Course and leisure facility at Maynooth, 30km west of Dublin.
It was the biggest ever one-day Turf Science Live event - organised by ICL and Syngenta, in association with Campey Turf Care Systems and Toro - and provided turf managers in Ireland with a unique on-course format to see and discuss the latest agronomy and practical techniques.
Colman Warde, ICL Country Manager for Ireland, reported each of the six presentation stations at Carton House had been selected for topics that would directly redress the increasing challenges of difficult weather conditions and budgetary constraints facing turf managers in Ireland, and help with the aim to enhance long-term turf quality and consistent playability on all sports surfaces.
ICL Technical Manager, Henry Bechelet, outlined a series of research trial results and on-course experiences that demonstrated how an Integrated Turf Management approach of ICL speciality fertiliser nutrition, used in conjunction with proactive Syngenta fungicide applications, could effectively create stronger, healthier turf and better levels of disease control.
"The research has clearly shown that better targeting of each individual component of the ITM programme, at the most appropriate timing, can deliver better results for consistent turf quality, and help to make the most cost effective decisions for each agronomy input."
Continuing the theme of integrating turf management agronomy, Daniel Lightfoot of Syngenta and Tom Wood of STRI showed how the use of Qualibra wetting agent could help better manage issues around high rainfall seen in Ireland this year. The work had also shown welcomed techniques to improve the germination and establishment of new seedlings, which could enable faster recovery of better playing surfaces for both golf and sports pitches.
Formulation scientist, Colm Crean, from Syngenta's UK International Research Station, provided a fascinating insight into just how a high quality product is developed. He demonstrated the hugely complicated steps to make fungicide that work consistently and reliably under extreme weather conditions frequently experienced in Ireland, along with the application techniques to help get the best from every application.
The importance of selecting high quality products was also emphasised by Dr Andy Owen, ICL International Technical Manager, who looked at the technical attributes of the company's SeaMax seaweed product and its role in a nutritional programme. "It is important to understand precisely how a product is created and how it works. In the case of seaweeds, for example, there are so many variables and levels of performance that need to be assessed, to check you are getting genuine value for money," he advised.
Andy highlighted his research behind SeaMax had demonstrated the high quality formulation was capable of encouraging stronger rooting, which could in turn have the potential to enhance take up of nutrients and moisture, as well as making plants better able to withstand or recover from disease and pest damage.
Brian O'Shaughnessy Area Manager (Ireland) for Campey Turf Care Systems added: "Turf Science Live events have been very successful, well attended educational days. Through effective education and demo events, Campey Turf Care continue to bring innovative machinery to help professional groundsmen and course superintendents across Europe & USA to produce the best quality surface they can."
At TSL Ireland Brian highlighted that Campey Turf Care Systems has introduced many new products to help improve the quality of greens and fairways, with little or no disturbance to play. The Air 2 G2 is one machine using air to de-compact greens with no disruption to the golfer, whilst the VGR Topchanger uses water to de-compact and inject sand into greens. The Sandcat is another linear sand injector, with the Rotoknife linear slitter and Shockwave for greens & fairway decompaction.
Launching the all new RM3555 / RM3575 Reelmaster three-wheel 24.8HP range of lightweight fairway mowers in Ireland at TSL, Toro/Reesink Senior Manager, Dermot O'Connor, said: "Toro is totally focused on developing environmentally friendly, green machinery by lowering emissions and fuel consumption, while at the same time lessening ground compaction and turf damage around the golf course by using light weight designs.
"Together with the unique Reelmaster RM5010H true Hybrid four-wheel fairway unit, the new machines are only the start of things to come, and we look forward to presenting many more exciting 'green' innovations over the next few seasons," he added.
"Golf courses in Ireland have an enviable reputation, but players' expectations for turf quality is getting ever higher," pointed out Colman Warde. "They repeatedly demand Augusta appearance and speed in April, when this year some courses received 90mm of rain in the three week run-up. Turf Science Live has shown some new ideas to help turf managers meet current challenges more effectively.
"All the companies at TSL would like to extend our thanks to John Plummer, Resort Superintendent and Mark Farragher, Head Greenkeeper, along with all the team at Carton House, in providing the exceptional facilities for such a successful Turf Science Live," he added.