Look After your Grass
Sports turf is particularly susceptible to pests and diseases due to the stress of close mowing, improper use of fertilisers, compaction, thatch and extreme wear
Avoiding these issues are a key partof disease and pest management. Although the range of pests and diseases are limited in the UK, if they aren’t managed properly then irrevocabledamage to the turf can occur.
Being able to identify pests and diseases and knowing how to produce conditions that minimise the potential for them to attack, as well as reducing the potentialfor them to spread, are fundamental issues that a turf manager should be aware of.
Turf grass diseases and identification
Fungi are the main causes of turf disease.Fungi are spread through the release of microscopic spores, transmitted by air or water, that germinate into hyphae, thread-like structures that make up the body of a multi-cellular fungus. Appropriate environmental conditions then allow them to develop and spread - for example, favourable temperatures, adequate moisture, limited light, air movement and pH levels appropriate to the disease. Disease control: Integrated disease management that combines cultural, biological and chemical controls is the modern approach to disease control.
Cultural controls refer to a good maintenance regime that will reduce the conditions favourable to the onset of diseases: it will mitigate where possible the cause of attacks listed in the table.Operations and practices that will assist with this include:
Biological control is increasingly considered as part of an integrated approach for a number of reasons, including augmenting fungicide use, reduction of non-target effects and increased microbial diversity in soil, as well as enhancement of root and foliar turf growth. The most common approaches for implementing biological control strategies in turf grass management involve either the use of microbial inoculants or compost amendments to encourage the activities of native soil and plant-associated micro organisms suppressive to diseases.
With chemical controls, or fungicides (systemic or contact) a preventative application often provides better management of the disease than a curative one.Also, curative rates tend to be higher than preventative ones.Correctly timed preventative application of the right product for the target disease will result in more effective control and less product used.Persistent use may result in the disease becoming resistant to the pesticide.
Best practice in the use of fungicides dictates that chemical controls should be a part (and usually last resort) of an integrated programme.When applied they should be done so with care, adhering to maximum recommended dosage rates and applications, and alternating between chemicals and chemical groups will prevent resistance.
- Brushing or switching to reduce moisture
- Good air movement
- Regular scarifying and/or verti-cutting to remove thatch
- Limited applications of nitrogen in cool conditions and lime (e.g. water and topdressings)
- Choice of cultivars – some are more susceptible than others to certain diseases
- Use of quality loams and topdressings.