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Week 2 - Managing turf under lockdown

Mowing greens

As the government’s lockdown response to the outbreak of Covid 19 continues, so does the STRI trial into effects of reduced intensity turf management – or what has now become known as the ‘Lockdown Trial’!

STRI Research Operations Manager, Dr Christian Spring, reports on the first week’s assessments.

The trial is being conducted on behalf of Syngenta, with support from ICL. The trial was set up at STRI on 17 April. A brief summary of which is as follows.

Reduced intensity management trial after week 1

STRI reduced intensity management trial plots after week 1 - with 5x per week cutting in foreground; 3x per week in middle plots and once per week behind

The trial is designed to determine if optimum turf health can be maintained under lower intensity management regimes.

Treatment programmes

It is separated into three mowing regimes: five days per week, three days per week and once per week.

Within each of these mowing strategies are three programmes of Primo Maxx II (0.4 l/ha), plus an untreated control:

1.           No primo

2.           Primo applied every 7 days

3.           Primo applied every 50 growth degree days

4.           Primo applied every 100 growth degree days

The trial is now into its second week; the second set of Primo Maxx II applications on the seven day programme have been completed. It is early stages to draw any conclusions, however, some interesting results are already apparent.

STRI trial week 1 report video screen

Watch STRI Trials Manager, Mark Ferguson’s video assessment of the trial proceedings to date

Height of cut, measured with a prism gauge has demonstrated that Primo Maxx II is regulating growth and visually improving evenness of cut.

No turf discolouration

The regular application of Primo Maxx II to golf green turf, even under cool conditions and without nitrogen, has not resulted in any turf discolouration.

This has been a question often asked in the industry over the past few weeks. Now we have the answer, but as best practice dictates, always make sure your turf is not under excessive stress when applying plant growth regulators.

Water efficiency

Of note for the trial, Qualibra is being applied to help optimise soil water balance. Sportsmaster WSF SeaMax is also being added with Qualibra, to help with plant health management.

When tank mixed with Qualibra, the plant is responding normally and taking up Primo Maxx II, with good turf safety, no yellowing and growth being regulated as normal. This is not a normal combination, however if time is limiting factor, as is currently often the case, this looks a possible compromise to get both Qualibra and Primo applied in a time efficient manner.  

The Qualibra + SeaMax mix is being applied on a monthly basis and tank mixed with any Primo Maxx II treatments due for application at that timing, so that there is only ever one application of treatments being made per week. This is to replicate current minimised spraying activities on golf courses.

Turf colour & quality

The most obvious visual result is turf quality and turf colour in the one day per week mowing programme. Turf quality and colour assessed 10 days into the trial is better under a lower intensity management programme, compared to trial plots mown five and three days per week; potentially as a result of less mower wear in the low intensity plots.

Watch this space for further updates as they happen in what looks to be a fascinating trial!