The Lockdown Trials – The Low-down

Hopefully you will have heard by now about our trials for ‘managing turf under a lockdown’. They seem to have become known as The Lockdown Trials. Well. Here’s the low-down on the lockdown.

Just a note. I’ve split this blog into two sections 1) My Views and 2) The Data. The latter being for those who really want to get into the nitty gritty of cut evenness, sward heights and clipping yields.

The Lockdown Trials – My Views

So it’s early days in the Lockdown Trials at STRI – what are the take home points so far?

It’s too early to pick any major changes out but already we can see the difference between using a GDD model and a calendar based model from an operational perspective. The GDD model is moving us pretty close to a 14 day application window where as the 7 day application was applied at around 23 GDD.

Reduced intensity management trial after week 1

The Primo label permits 7 days between applications and a max rate of 0.4l/ha on greens. What we are doing by using the calendar method is layering the effect of Primo early on in the season whilst we have poor growing conditions but as the GDD figures draw out the layering effect will reduce. The program based on GDD should give a more consistent level of regulation but the calendar based program will allow us to apply the highest rate possible as stated on the label.

One of the key things that is already coming out of this trial is the difference between managing turf for health and managing a high quality putting surface. The plots that have less maintenance are already showing a healthier sward. The turf in this trial is pretty weak on the back of a very wet winter and a dry Spring. Soon we’ll need to start thinking about our feeding regime. The challenge with a fertility program in this situation is the range of turf conditions we already have – the less maintenance, the less stress and does that mean less feed? So already we’re seeing the impact on the turf of some pretty basic variations of maintenance.

Check out the full story at Greencast …

The Lockdown Trials – The Data

Turf Quality

Treatment17th April24th April27th April
No Primo Maxx II, mown 1x/week6.06.07.0
No Primo Maxx II, mown 3x/week6.06.06.0
No Primo Maxx II, mown 5x/week6.06.06.0
Primo Maxx II @ 7 day interval, mown 1x/week6.06.07.0
Primo Maxx II @ 7 day interval, mown 3x/week6.06.06.0
Primo Maxx II @ 7 day interval, mown 5x/week6.06.06.0
Primo Maxx II @ 50 GDD, mown 1x/week6.06.07.0
Primo Maxx II @ 50 GDD, mown 3x/week6.06.06.0
Primo Maxx II @ 50 GDD, mown 5x/week6.06.06.0
Primo Maxx II @ 100 GDD, mown 1x/week6.06.07.0
Primo Maxx II @ 100 GDD, mown 3x/week6.06.06.0
Primo Maxx II @ 100 GDD, mown 5x/week6.06.06.0

The above table shows very little as we’re still only 10 days into the trial, the obvious trend though is that all plots on a significantly reduced cutting program are showing higher quality turf. That makes sense – more mowing = more wear – couple that with low levels of growth, it will have an impact.

In a “normal” situation what would we be doing to create a surface right now? Brushing, verticutting, rolling … Too early to draw any conclusions but a good reminder that chasing a putting surface has an impact on turf health.

Evenness of cut

This is an assessment of:

  • Quality of cut
  • Length of cut
  • Missed blades
  • Variance in turf length
  • etc….

All assessed under a prism then scored on a 1-10 scale (1 = low quality, 10 = high quality).

Cut evenness would have an impact on the quality of the putting surface.

Again, it’s early in proceedings but the more cuts the better the quality. At this stage the evenness of cut is improved in every case where Primo is used, in fact currently the 1 cut a week plot with Primo is showing better evenness of cut than 5 cuts a week with no Primo (Surely that won’t last???).

Sward heights

The plots are all cut on a Friday and left until Monday, on Monday the sward is assessed, after that the cutting regime recommences. When the sward is assessed the Sward height is measured. All the plots have received at least one application of Primo now at 0.4l/Ha with the 7 day plots received 2 apps. As expected the Primo Applications are reducing growth during that weekend period – in this case around 1mm.

This will be interesting to watch to see not only how different intervals impact this but will more regular cutting have an impact on the plants growth patterns?

Clipping yields

Using a growth regulator we can reduce clipping yield, no dose response rate visible yet from the extra application but it’s early days but we have seen a 22% reduction in clipping yield which correlates perfectly with the cut evenness figures we’ve seen too.

Please bear in mind this is early in the trial but, for me there is some nice conclusions and questions here:

  • Less maintenance in periods of slow growth = healthier turf?
  • Less maintenance = lower quality putting surfaces?
  • Primo so far is allowing us to reduce maintenance and hold quality

I’ll be blogging and sharing ‘My Opinions’ and ‘The Data’ from the Lockdown Trials regularly – so stay tuned for more findings just as soon as they become available. They’ll be on Twitter to @SyngentaTurfUK.

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