Tag Archive for: Biology

Soil Biology Brings Rewards

Soil Biology Brings Rewards: A greens team has seen its maintenance budget double and recruitment increase having introduced a range of soil biology methods across the course.

Harpenden Common Golf Club swept aside its existing greens renovation programme in favour of a less intrusive, environmental one based on applying compost teas, fertilisers, trace elements and zeolites.

Soil Biology Brings Rewards

“The old system of digging up our waterlogged greens twice a year to try to improve drainage had failed,” reports head greenkeeper Sean Brocklehurst, “so we invited an agronomist specialising in soil biology to take a look at the problem.”

Soil Biology Ltd’s Hillery Murphy recommended an extensive programme of boosting the microbial count across the 18-hole private members parkland course in a bid to reduce thatch and strengthen the rootzone.

Now in its fourth year of the soil biology strategy, Harpenden Common is reaping the benefits inside and outside the clubhouse, states Sean. “Poor drainage on the greens made them unplayable sometimes, forcing us to close the course and risking loss of members. Playing surfaces have improved so much that we can stay open year-round, which is great news for everyone here.”

General manager Terry Crump said: “Our key priority is to deliver the best possible course conditions and clubhouse facilities for our members. They will go elsewhere if we cannot provide golf whenever they want it.

“It’s no exaggeration to state that the club might have struggled if we had persisted with our existing maintenance strategy, which relied heavily on chemical and physical treatments.”

Year-round course playability has helped the club double the greens team’s maintenance budget, allowing it to introduce improvements across the site.

Soil Biology Brings Rewards

“We are raising standards off course as well as on to boost presentation around the playing areas,” says Sean, “and we have been able to recruit an apprentice greenkeeper to increase the team to seven. “

Harpenden Common applies Soil Biology products right across the course to raise quality throughout. “The zeolites add structural integrity to the turf and retain then release nutrients over time,” Sean explains, “also encouraging a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria in the rootzone. Members agree the state of the course is the best it has ever been.”

Hillery Murphy says: “Harpenden Common is a great testimony to soil biology.  Zeolites deliver more consistent results, creating a honeycomb in which beneficial microbes can thrive and metabolise nutrients for the grass plant to take up. This is the future for course maintenance practices.”

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2020 Vision On Soil Biology

2020 Vision On Soil Biology: A new generation of greenkeepers are promoting the huge benefits that soil biology can bring to course management.

That was a key message soil specialist Joel Williams delivered to course managers, head greenkeepers and grounds professionals attending Soil Biology Ltd’s seminar ‘Getting Ready for 2020’ at Harpenden Common Golf Club on 14 November.

2020 Vision On Soil Biology

For too long, greenkeepers had focused on the chemical and physical dynamics of turfcare, he stressed, in some cases without sufficiently considering the third key element – biology.

It is now clear that by nurturing relationships between grass plants, bacteria, mycorrhizae and other soil life such as nematodes, greenkeepers can dramatically improve course conditions year-round, he argued.

By adopting a soil biology approach, clubs can attract greater usage and more members, while enabling greenkeepers to deliver course maintenance more efficiently – a message chiming with young greenkeepers rising through the ranks.

“We are beginning a transition from a mainly mechanical approach to soil and turf health to a balanced focus as part of an integrated system that includes biological processes and systems,” Joel stated.

Mounting pressure on greenkeepers to find alternative applications amid tougher EU controls on applied chemicals had moved soil biology up the agenda, Joel told the audience.

Harpenden Common head greenkeeper Sean Brocklehurst, who sits on BIGGA’s Young Greenkeepers Committee, revealed how soil biology practices and processes using applied products such as zeolites, had transformed “extremely wet, unplayable greens” into golfing surfaces sustaining year-round playability.

“The club has attracted more business because of the improved playing conditions, which in turn allowed us to invest further in improving aesthetic appearance right across the course,” he said.

The greens team works closely with a consultant from Soil Biology Ltd, who visits the club regularly to ensure the strategy is working optimally.

Attending the seminar in his role as course manager at The Richmond Golf Club, BIGGA Chairman Les Howkins added: “No longer is soil biology on the edge of course management as perhaps it was 20 years ago.

“Soil biology has always been vital to turf health but what is critical now is greenkeepers’ understanding of it, enabling them to manipulate it for the benefit of course conditions.”

Outlining the principles of soil biology, Joel discussed the functions, roles and interactions of soil life in golf greens – introducing key groups of organisms in the soil ecosystem.

Delegates learned how to advance soil biology and leverage the most from turf soils by understanding total, exchangeable and soluble nutrient pools, including the biological link to foliar-applied inputs.

Integrated pest management concluded Joel’s overview as he peered into the frontiers of soil biology, turf health and sustainable, resilient golf greens.

Sponsored and developed by Soil Biology Ltd, `Getting Ready for 2020` also included overviews of the products and programmes the company provide for sportsturf maintenance.

Email Paul Adams at paul@soil-biology.co.uk or phone Hillery Murphy on 07342 640650 to learn more about how to introduce soil biology into a course management strategy.

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