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Managing summer stress - Wear and tear of heavy play

Player wear on greens

In the latest of the series of trial reports seeking ways to better manage stress this summer, STRI and Syngenta specialist look at how effects of wear from heavy play can stress turf.

The Syngenta Unlock and Play trial is examining integrated turf management techniques and their impact on summer stresses such as simulated golf wear, drought, heat and light stress. The trial will run throughout the summer months when play on golf courses will be at its peak.

The Syngenta Unlock and Play trial has not been subject to any drought or heat stress so far, reports Dr Christian Spring, STRI Research Operations Manager. After the warm dry spring, normal summer weather conditions have resumed in Yorkshire - and the typical mild, wet weather has been ideal for healthy turf growth!

Unlock and Play overview

However, as trial managers, we are still in control of the amount of wear that we can impose on the trial. Simulated golf wear will be increased this week, using the STRI wear machine, to reflect the fact that golf courses are very busy at the moment.

Wear, particularly on entrances and exits to greens and around pin positions can be heavy and damaging at this time of year – especially in wet weather.

STRI wear machine in action

Simulated player traffic will be increased from two passes per week with the wear machine, to four passes per week. To give this some context we estimate that one pass of simulated golf wear is equal to one day’s traffic on the entry/exit of a golf green.

The stress imposed by the simulated wear, and the damage that causes to the turf, will be assessed and subsequently increase the wear further, maintain current levels or reduce wear as appropriate.

Find out how to use some of the results of the Unlock and Play trial to manage your turf this summer

The forecast for the next week is good, with temperatures picking up and no rain in the immediate forecast.

If the current weather pattern continues it may be that the trial will begin to dry out and we will start to see signs of drought stress.

For now, results have been positive. Primo Maxx II continues to regulate growth and evenness of turf effectively. The summer stress management programme has increased turf colour and turf quality across the whole trial is good.

For the Unlock and Play Trial, a summer stress management programme is being applied plots in combination with standard management and compared to standard management alone.

  • Standard management: Qualibra applied monthly @ 20 l/ha and ICL Greenmaster Liquid 25.0.0 applied at low rates 19 l/ha every fortnight.
  • Summer stress management programme: As above, plus Syngenta bio-stimulant @10 l/ha, ICL Sportsmaster WSF Seamax @ 1 kg/ha and Ryder @ 0.5 l/ha.

Additionally, the Primo Maxx II programme, as used in the Lockdown Trial continues, with application intervals governed by time or Growing Degree Days (GDD), calculated by GreenCast:

  1. No Primo
  2. Primo applied @ 0.4 l/ha every 7 days
  3. Primo applied @ 0.4 l/ha every 50 Growth degree days
  4. Primo applied @ 0.4 l/ha every 100 Growth degree days

The products in the summer stress management programme have been chosen because they are able to improve turf health and wear tolerance without applying an excess of nutrient to turf.

No irrigation will be applied to the trial area, but it will be left uncovered to the elements. Simulated golf wear will be applied weekly to simulate a busy golf course.

Visual assessments of turf quality, colour, live grass cover and evenness are being made weekly along with measurements of sward height, NDVI and light intensity.

Video updates are being produced every two weeks and will look at the different stresses imposed upon the trial.

Read more on managing light stress - Find out how Ryder can help

Watch this space for further updates.