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Compost Tea for Sports Turf

Thatch, disease, compaction, chemical accumulation resulting in black layer and iron bands, poor rooting and poa annua infestation are all to a greater or lesser extent caused by poor quality rootzones devoid of soil life.

Compost Tea for Sports Turf

When you get fungal dominance in the thatch layer you start to outcompete the basidiomycetes that cause fairy rings which cannot access the organic matter to release nitrogen to form the green rings or release hydrophobic substances over the soil particles creating fungal smelling dry patch.

Disease resistance is also improved because you have stronger plants with a beneficial microbial barrier around the root system helping to keep fungal pathogens at bay.

Application

Sadly most sports turf rootzones are relatively low in the organic matter needed to support microbial life even though a lot of microbial food leaks from the roots during photosynthesis so fairly regular applications are needed. In an 80/20 rootzone you will need about 100 litres of compost tea per application.

Frequency of application depends upon what you want to achieve. To clean a chemically compromised rootzone with iron bands, black layer, barriers of fines and root breaks will need up to 10 applications per year starting in spring. If you have a relatively healthy rootzone and want to get good early growth, help manage dry patch and strengthen the grass in autumn five or six applications appropriately timed may suffice.

In summary compost teas are a simple inexpensive way (less than £100 per hectare) of getting soil biology, chemistry and physics to work in harmony for healthy sustainable fine grass growth.

Why do we need living soil

Typical sports turf root zones that have been used as a receptacle for chemicals over the years are effectively dead see picture of typical dead rootzone, these rootzones contain the limited biology suitable for poa annua, a grass that survives because of constant seeding and high nutrient water and pesticide inputs.

All plants rely on relationships with soil microbes that promote healthy growth. These symbiotic plant microbe systems, in which grasses, except poa annua, apply about 20% of its energy to root formation and leaks about 30 per cent of the energy they produce through their roots to feed the microbes forming the soil food web, have evolved over millions of years. In return the microbes convert the proteins and carbohydrates that leak out of the root back into plant food available at the right time for optimum plant growth.

Soil microbes have a range of mechanisms to protect the grass against pathogen attack, aid in the decomposition of toxins, and produce plant growth hormones. The net result of this is that grass grown in a healthy food web is stronger, needs less inorganic fertiliser and water, suffers less from disease, fairy rings and dry patch and tends towards perennial grasses not poa annua.

Compost tea allows you to match the correct biology to your grass from the day the seed germinates, so exceptional growth can occur.

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