Unlock & Play - Results summary sees significant benefits
Summer stresses in the British climate can be extremely variable. We can have severe heat and drought stress, such as the summer of 2018; we can have torrential rain, a regular occurrence; and we can have relatively benign weather conditions with long daily periods of drizzle. Weather conditions, and the stresses they bring to the turf can be difficult to predict.
The principle objective of the Syngenta Unlock & Play trial was to determine if a ‘stress management’ programme could improve turf quality, colour and resilience when compared to standard management, reports STRI Research Manager, Mark Ferguson.
The bespoke ‘stress management’ programme which, in addition to standard management, included fortnightly applications of Ryder, Sportsmaster WSF Seamax and a new bio-stimulant product from Syngenta.
The stresses under assessment included:
Light intensity. This is a stress criterion that is often overlooked. In May, June and July the UK typically receives approximately 16 hours of sunlight per day. This is a significant amount of light stress, which has the knock-on effect of allowing play to start early and finish late and associated extra wear.
Heat stress. Although high temperatures were recorded during the trial period, these were not long enough to induce significant heat stress. See the report on Growing Degree Days and heat stress
Moisture stress. Principally the implications of moisture deficit. No irrigation was applied to the trial area, but sufficient rainfall was received to ensure that any drought conditions experienced were brief. The trial area received monthly applications of Qualibra wetting agent to improve water retention and balance soil moisture content throughout the summer. Find out more of what moisture stress results looked ike
Wear stress. Simulated wear was imposed on the turf throughout the trial, matching the intensity of a busy golf green in summer. See more on wear stress factors
The products used in the stress management programme were designed to combat the various stresses that turf is exposed to during summer. Ryder is a pigment-based product that gives turf additional protection from sun and heat damage and promotes strong turf colour throughout stressful periods. The new bio stimulant product from Syngenta is designed to improve plant health under periods of stress.
All the trials included Qualibra to manage water stress, along with Primo Maxx II growth regulator. Sportsmaster Seamax has been proven to improve turf quality and colour. The trial also included monitoring Growing Degree Days and the chance to assess implications for Primo Maxx II application intervals.
Each product individually made small incremental gains, but added together made a significant difference for a big improvement
Results from the trial demonstrated that significant statistical differences were observed between the two management programmes throughout the trial period.
The stress management programme gave the biggest uplift in turf colour. Turf colour scores were consistently higher in these trial plots, compared to standard management, throughout the trial.
Improvements in turf quality and live grass cover from the stress management programme were more subtle than differences observed in turf colour, but they were still evident, and statistically significant, throughout the trial period.
Results from the trial work demonstrated the continued benefits of using Primo Maxx II. These results followed on from those seen in the previous Lockdown trial where Primo Maxx II regulated growth effectively, compared to turf that received no growth regulator, and improved evenness of turf when assessed using a prism gauge.
In a summer where many of the stresses that we sometimes encounter, such as drought and heat stress, did not manifest for long periods, these results demonstrate good efficacy of the stress management programme compared to standard management.
The ‘Unlock and Play’ trial, along with the previous ‘Lockdown Trial’, have represented a new method of turf research work. Results have been processed quickly and disseminated via regular video updates on social media throughout spring and summer.
Engagement with the greenkeeping community has been fantastic and the trial work has provided a framework for further discussions in what has been a difficult year.
These trials will be discussed at length, along with lots of other interesting trial work, in the Virtual STRI Research days which will be posted throughout October.
Look out for your invitation to Syngenta's presentation at the Virtual STRI Research event