SEAWEED-BASED TURF BIO-STIMULATIONMaxicrop and Rigby Taylor is prepared to put its money where its mouth is and has given Pitchcare nearly £500 worth of free product for ten of its readers to try out. In total, we've 10, 10 litre drums of Maxicrop No.1 Triple Seaweed to give away in our competition. That's enough for each winner to treat 3 greens, once a month for six months, or for one application to a regulation size football pitch. All you have to do to win is answer the question below:-
Seaweed extracts are said to produce soils in which plant pathogens are less likely to cause severe disease. This is known as what?
a) Repressive State
b) Suppressive State
c) Super State
Simply e-mail your answer, together with your name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org and the first ten with the correct answer will win 10litres of Maxicrop No.1.
P.S. The article below may help provide you with the correct answer!
Bio-stimulants - natural organic substances that encourage the healthy growth and reproduction of plants and bolster the populations of beneficial microbes - have a long history of use on sports turf. Now there?s a host of products available with a multitude of claims of beneficial effects. However, one group that?s been available for over 50 years ? seaweed extracts - continues to hold a strong market position.
Pitchcare spoke to leading research consultant Professor Geoff Dixon to find out why. In this article he details how recent UK research has confirmed some of the tangible benefits that seaweed extracts provide,
The use of seaweed, in one form or another, dates back to the 16th century. Traditionally, fresh wet seaweed kelp was used directly as manure on farms in coastal regions. Occasionally it was dragged onto coastal golf courses during the winter to act in similar fashion as a fertiliser.This is clearly not now practical or desirable, especially away from the coast. For this reason, in the 1950?s, several manufacturers started making dried and rehydrated seaweed extracts.
The perception, at that time, was that seaweed extracts or meals mainly increased the nutrient supply to plants in readily soluble forms, available through the leaf surfaces. They appeared, in an unexplained but noticeable way, to increase the plant's physiological efficiency. There was an assumption that liquid extracts acted by penetrating the leaves and then being distributed through the plant. But there was very little sound scientific research to back this. Thus, while seaweed extracts soon gained a wide following, the exact mechanism and true benefits were never properly assessed.
It wasn?t until the late 1980?s when the leading manufacturer, Maxicrop International, financed a series of research projects at a range of British universities, that we started to unravel the science behind seaweed extracts.The research teams found that seaweed extracts really do promote healthy plant growth and reproduction, and also they stimulate the activities of benign soil microbes with a number of subsequent beneficial effects to the plant. Indeed, the researchers found that there is a direct relationship between microbial activity and the concentration of Liquid Seaweed Extract applied to soils.
So, seaweed extracts not only stimulate plants, they also improve soil health ? this finding was a major step forward in our understanding as to how seaweed extracts work. As a result, while sprays might well have targeted the leaves in the past, the researchers confirmed that soil penetration is very important. Thus, to maintain healthy turf, sprays, or the use of solid products brushed in to the soil after tining or verti-draining, will be more effective than sprays on their own.
Increasing the activity of benign soil microbes ? especially in relatively sterile sand-constructed pitches, greens and tees ? helps the turnover of dead leaf material, minimising problems of thatch and increasing soil organic matter with the result that healthy root growth is increased. One very noticeable effect of Liquid Seaweed Extracts is increased root bulk and activity.
These same microbes, by either producing acids or directly using chemical elements found in the soil, release nutrients for growth. In so doing, root growth proliferates, providing a depth and stability that can sustain turf, encouraging better fertiliser and soil moisture uptake from a larger root zone. At the same time, the effect of seaweed extracts may encourage a beneficial state within soils that is akin to one found naturally in some areas and labelled as ?suppressive soils?. Here natural bio-control inhibits plant pathogens from causing severe disease.
This suppressive effect takes place close to plant roots i.e. in the root Rhizosphere. This is the zone immediately surrounding the roots and has critically important effects on their efficient growth and functioning. Enhancing the Rhizosphere environment with beneficial microbes decreases the impact of certain pathogens. Liquid seaweed extracts additionally encouraged the pathogens to go dormant by entering the resting chlamydospore stage.
Seaweed extracts thus encourage beneficial micro-organisms in the Rhizosphere to form a biological barrier to plant pathogens. Nowhere is this effect more beneficial than on sand constructed playing surfaces. Here, poor inherent fertility can significantly restrict healthy grass development, and the use of Maxicrop products speed the development of a natural, healthy soil eco-system.
The UK university research teams confirmed that Maxicrop also has a direct effect on the plant, influencing a variety of important growth processes.
At the heart of this is the effect of seaweed extracts on chlorophyll production, boosting the photosynthetic processes, thereby directly stimulating natural plant growth. Research shows that it is a complex mix of betaines ? quarternary ammonium compounds ? found naturally in Maxicrop Seaweed Extract, that provide this effect. Increasing photosynthesis through the stimulation of chlorophyll production encourages the formation of sugars and their transfer to the roots. This results in even stronger turf, by encouraging good tillering and better ground cover.
The complex mix of betaines within liquid seaweed extract also raises the plant's stress thresholds to higher levels. They boost natural defence mechanisms, helping the plant maintain a state that is better able to cope with environmental stresses such as drought or waterlogging, or man-induced pressure from constant wear and tear. Seaweed extracts are most effective when they are used regularly starting during the early growth stages and maintained through the season.
So how exactly do they work? The model we have proposed is that their application firstly affects the soil microflora (essential for microbes to be present), leading to improved plant growth and health, secondly they boost the photosynthetic efficiency increasing the plant's own productivity. These combined effects lead to more robust root and leaf growth and greater support from beneficial microbes.
Laminarin, a carbohydrate, in the seaweed extract stimulates the production of certain types of microbe and plant enzymes. These, as well as degrading the soil organic matter into humus, can degrade fungal cell walls.
While many details of the mode of action of seaweed extracts remain to be understood one thing is certain, through this research work, Maxicrop has become one of a few companies which can market its products based on firm, scientifically-based knowledge produced by independent investigations. This scientific knowledge base confirms that Maxicrop seaweed extracts provide excellent bio-stimulation of healthy plant growth and reproduction, rooted in a biologically active soil environment.
Results are as shown below:-
Improved Soil Health
Research at the University of Strathclyde shows that Maxicrop can produce a 20-times increase in soil bacteria numbers 24 hours after application.
Improved Disease Resistance
Research by the University of Strathclyde confirms that Maxicrop stimulates certain beneficial soil microbes. At the same time the effect encouraged a variety of plant pathogens to become dormant. These included:-
Phytopthera cinnamomi ? ROOT AND COLLAR ROT
Pythium ultimum ? DAMPING OFF
The work demonstrated a reduction in biological activity around the root surface 10-15 days after the pathogen was introduced to Maxicrop treated soils.
Professor Geoff Dixon says that:- ?There is a parallel between Maxicrop and the natural phenomenon known as soil suppressiveness in which abiotic and biotic factors interact to repress pathogens within the soil.?
Increased Root Growth
They conclude that:-
?The ability of Maxicrop to improve root development gives the plant a greater potential to increase nutrient uptake. Similarly, under field conditions, an increased resistance to water stress could be expected from a more extensive root system.?
In a field trial, by the Henry Doubleday Research Association Maxicrop increased root dry weight by 69%, four months after sowing.
At Writtle College Maxicrop Triple had a positive effect on improving root growth of creeping bent cultivars. Fescues and browntop bent also showed positive effects, but these were more limited.
At the University of Wales ? Aberystwyth, Maxicrop Seaweed Extract produced a 50% increase in leaf area, through stimulating more early formed tillers.
And at Writtle College Maxicrop Triple, produced a 150% improvement in shoot weight, largely by increasing the numbers of tillers in creeping bent, from an average of 2.46/plant to 3.3/plant.
Four months after a September sowing, Maxicrop Seaweed Extract significantly improved ryegrass cover at the Henry Doubleday Research Association (see graph)
Additional Formulated Responses
[a] Plus Iron Products
Sports Turf Research Institute
Two applications of Maxicrop No.6 ProGreen the first in mid-August, the second at the beginning of September, helped provide greener turf until the beginning of October.
The effect lasted through the autumn and was statistically significant for up to a six week period.
Five further applications starting in May and ending in September, produced significantly greener turf on most assessment dates during the spring and summer of the following year.
Maxicrop (Plus Iron) improved turf colour just one day after spraying and the effect lasted beyond 4 weeks after spraying in trials at the SAC-Aberdeen.
Three months after spraying, nine out of ten different application rates of Maxicrop No.2 Moss killer and Conditioner gave acceptable moss kill at the Sports Turf Research Institute.
The best rates were at or just below the company?s recommended rates ? 310l/ha.
All treatments took effect 3 days after spraying and effects stared to fade after 4 months.
At Writtle College, Maxicrop No.2 Moss killer and Conditioner provided a 95-100% kill.
Grass growth ? as assessed by clipping weight after a fortnight - was unaffected by treatments. Indeed the added bio-stimulant had helped boost grass growth.
Prof Geoff Dixon is a senior horticultural consultant with GreenGene International & The University of Strathclyde. He has lead research teams studying the effects of seaweed extracts on soil activity and plant growth and is an acknowledged expert in this field.
The author acknowledges the work of UK research teams at:- University of Wales ? Aberystwyth, University of Bristol, University of Portsmouth, University of Plymouth ? Seale Hayne, University of Strathclyde ? SAC Auchincruive.
Maxicrop products are available exclusively on the UK mainland through Rigby Taylor, for more informationgo to http://www.rigbytaylor.com/products/specialities/Maxicrop/Maxicrop.htmlor visit www.maxicrop.co.uk for the latest on its turf care range.