Sports turf grass health struggling to keep pace

Sports turf grass health struggling to keep pace: FairWay Awards has been monitoring the health of sport turf up and down the country using a satellite-based system that reads the amount and wavelength of light being emitted from vegetation.

The ratio of different light wavelengths from vegetation gives an indication of the vigour or distress of the grass canopy: more red light is emitted when grass is under stress. Below is an example comparing a fairway in spring (left) and winter (right).

Sports turf grass health struggling to keep pace

Sports turf grass health struggling to keep pace

Having analysed satellite data from 50 golf courses across Great Britain from 2018, Mike Heisig from FairWay Awards comments on recent findings: “We have been looking at the health of grass by tracking exactly the same areas of sports turf from 2018 to today. This gives good insight into actual changes on the ground. What we have seen at the end of March 2021 is that grass health is gradually lagging further and further behind the levels that we saw at the end of March in 2020. Historic data shows that normally in March we should expect to see a major up lift in grass health as it comes out of the winter period.”

“This year however, much of that did not happen and UK grass health slipped back around 5% lower in March 2021 compared with March 2020. Much of this downturn can be attributed to the South East, which seems to be struggling more with grass health levels than any other part the country.”

“Looking ahead at this time of year we expect to see increasing grass health through March and April, leading to a peak in May. It remains to be seen how far grass will recover through the year and what the knock on effect will be for autumn grass management”

The good news is that there is plenty of time for greenkeepers to fine-tune the agronomy to help close the gap. Satellite grass health data is easily accessible and simple to use with huge benefits for turf management.

2021 may be the ideal year to join the Precision Sports Turf Revolution.

Regular updates on grass health through 2021 at or follow @FairwayAwards on twitter

Join the Sports Turf Revolution contact Mike Heisig:

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