The soil food web has become an increasingly popular term in greenkeeping and bowling green management. The problem-solution-problem, or symptoms approach to greenkeeping has been exposed as fundamentally flawed by the diminishing list of available pesticides now available to turf managers. Is there a better way to manage greens...yes. And the extraordinary discovery is that a greenkeeping program that focusses on the green as an eco-system is fully compatible with producing tight, natural turf dominated by the fine perennial Fescue and Bent grasses.
Transitioning your green from Poa annua to bent/fescue is not only critical to achieving a Performance Bowling Green, but is actually a realistic goal. The spongy, soft turf associated with annual meadow grass is less than ideal for bowls. Common wisdom says that this can't be done without major disruption and that even after it is achieved it wont last. This article explains in detail how to undertake the transition of your green from Poa annua to bent/fescue turf and dispels the myths about stressing Poa. This is the way to change your green permanently and without fuss. It will also save your club money on maintenance, so what's not to like?
Compost tea is a specially home brewed spray that will boost the microbe population in your bowling green, allowing you to encourage the finer grasses and combat dry patch, disease and thatch, naturally and effectively.
After studying this subject I can say that compost tea is an essential addition to the Performance Bowling Greens Program. Regular use of compost tea can significantly boost soil microbial activity and helps to make better use of fertiliser inputs. Correct formulation of the mixture during brewing will increase the dominance of the fine perennial grasses in the green sward.
By using compost teas, greenkeepers can reverse decades of damage caused by inorganic fertilisers, pesticides and excessive sand top-dressing.
Mycorrhizal fungi and turf health go hand in hand. The symbiotic relationships that exist between our turf grass plants and soil fungi are critical to producing a high performance, perennial grass dominated sward. Here we look at the benefits of mycorrhizal relationships in turf and the techniques greenkeepers can employ to encourage them.
The Role of Microorganisms in Soil Health is vast and in many cases misunderstood. For decades we have been obsessed with the potential harm that just a few pathogenic microbes can cause, instead of learning to think of the soil as an eco-system. We've learned the hard way about that approach and now that pesticide availability is being reduced we need to start taking this seriously. Excellent article here from Christopher Johns, Research Manager, Northern Australia and Land Care Research Programme
Understanding that the ecology of greens exists and what that means is more important for greenkeepers than understanding how that ecology works or indeed any of the scientific components of ecology in isolation. Stepping back and letting nature do its stuff can yield remarkable results.
In this article you'll discover how some commonly applied greenkeeping techniques are actually rather blunt instruments that can result in more harm than good. Top-dressing, applying lawn sand and fungicides are routinely applied to greens in an effort to treat the symptoms of common problems in the soil.
A beautifully made film that explains how our turf grasses can interact with soil bacteria and fungi to build the perfect, disease free bowling green eco-system if only we’d let them.
So how can you make 2021 the year you finally make a start on this process at your green?
- Read Performance Bowling Greens and take advantage of the half price offer on Soil Analysis I’ll send you.
- Join my email list for access to regular updates, tips and newsletters
- Join the Bowls Central Academy
- Take advantage of the member only pricing on soil analysis and I’ll send you a report written specifically for your green.
- Start following the program I will detail for you and allow me to guide you through the process.
What will the results look like?
- Your green will improve in surface performance (faster, smoother and truer) year after year .
- Your green keeping costs will reduce.
- Your green will behave more consistently and problems like disease, moss and dry patch will disappear.
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Compost Tea is a home made spray that is applied to fine turf to increase the micro life in the soil. It reintroduces missing microbes and boosts the populations of all of the main beneficial microbe groups such as bacteria, protozoa and the all important Fungi. Some of these help to degrade thatch, turning it into valuable humus, giving life and body to the depleted and often excessively sandy soil in many bowling greens.
The Sweet Spot in greenkeeping is when your green's Physical, Chemical and Biological components come into line to deliver results you couldn't previously have imagined were possible. Hitting that sweet spot is a lot simpler than you might imagine too, as focus on the soil's biology will naturally correct some of the worst Chemical problems and compensate for some of the worst Physical ones. There should be no problem "selling" this idea to your club either as first of all it saves money and secondly it massively improves green performance and consistency.
Managing turf disease effectively, cheaply and permanently is well within the grasp of every greenkeeper. The soil in our greens already holds all of the answers to this, or at least it should do. Some of the routine work we do on greens is more damaging than beneficial. The need to manage turf disease more effectively gives us the perfect excuse to start returning our soils and grass plants to their natural disease resistant selves, much to the benefit of our members and clubs. John explains how to manage turf disease outbreaks simply and with reference to vegetarian sausages :-)...may contain nuts!