Thursday, 2 July 2015

Disease...... A New Independent Sprayer and Product Applications

Most people only associate grass diseases with winter, most notably fusarium (Microdochium Nivale). Fusarium can still however develop well into the spring and summer if conditions are suitable. Fusarium however is just one of many grass diseases that can develop throughout the year. One disease that Langley Park also suffers from more than others is Anthracnose. A disease that develops when the grass plant is under stress during the summer period when frequent mowing at low summer heights of cuts combine with other stress related contributing factors. 

Along with fusarium, anthracnose and the potential risk of other disease outbreaks, many products have now been developed to combat against them, by preventing the diseases opportunity from developing in the outset. 

Far more products are applied through a sprayer than ever before. As well as applying fungicides in a curative capacity, we also apply fungicides now in a preventative capacity. Fungicide products are now produced with many different active ingredients and physical and biochemical modes of action. Contacts, systemics, preventatives and curatives are the four main modes of action. Different fungicides also only work efficiently during particular times of the year. So selecting the right fungicide to spray at the right time is key.

There are five stages of fungal development, Spore Germination, Penetration, Mycelial Growth, Blistering and then Sporulation. During this period of fungal development, choosing a preventative, curative, or eradicant fungicide is challenging. The challenge is to know when to apply a preventative, without wastefully applying where there was little or no disease risk - which is where the combination of good local knowledge and disease forecasting can prove so effective.

This might help explain why the sprayer is used and seen far more often than it used to be a decade ago.

Not only is there a vast selection of different fungicides with different modes of action, there are also many other products such as seaweeds and other biostimulant products. These products contain plant growth substances able to enhance the health and vigour of turf-grass, which also helps combat against disease. They also help to supplement nutritional programs, and are just as invaluable in maintaining turf quality throughout the year as fungicides and foliar feeds. Include other products such as wetting agents, which break down surface tension to allow water through the soil profile and you can soon see why applying products and the frequency is very important. 

It is on this basis that we are now purchasing a new independent sprayer. Our current sprayer is 8 years old and sits on a cushman utility vehicle that is now 11 years old. New legislation coming into effect also now requires that spraying machinery has to pass an annual MOT. This is to determine that the equipment is working efficiently and applying products correctly and safely, both for the benefit of the general public, golfers and the sprayer operator.

For the management of fine sports turf surfaces, a sprayer is now arguably the most important piece of equipment in any machinery fleet.

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