Turf Science Lite showcase innovations in turf agronomy

A series of Turf Science Lite events, which showcased the latest research information and technological innovations in turf agronomy was recently held by ICL and Syngenta. The events which which took place at Aston Villa FC’s stadium Villa Park, Slaley Hall Golf Club in Northumberland and Liverpool FC’s Academy facility in Kirkby attracted more than 200 delegates including turf managers, groundsmen, agronomists, greenkeepers and course managers.

Syngenta Technical Manager, Glenn Kirby, kick-started each event with an insightful presentation entitled Life After Propiconazole – an outlook on future diseasemanagement strategies. Within his presentation Glenn explained that good practice of integrated turf management techniques to promote turf health is going to become ever more important with the loss of important fungicide actives. He also revealed that there are exciting new fungicide options in the UK registration system, and that the company’s £1.4bn annual investment in R&D will continue to create new innovations.

“The loss of propiconazole is undoubtedly a serious concern for maintaining turf quality,” warns Glenn. “Adopting new turf technologies alongside fungicide programmes, such as Ryder pigment, Qualibra wetting agent and the potential for bio-stimulants will be key. Furthermore, pioneering innovations, such as sensor technology, predictive modelling and application, does offer a positive future for turf management.” 

Dr Andy Owen, ICL’s International Technical Manager, was next to take to the stage to present The Devil is in the Detail in which he talked about controlled release fertilisers (CRF) and the technology which goes into developing each product. Andy focussed on how to select a CRF in a crowded marketplace and the questions that could be asked about products; for example, ‘What is the % coated material in the bag? How are the claimed longevities calculated?

Also featured in the presentation was the Pearl technology found within two new Sierrablen Plus products and how these can be best used to support sports turf renovation and establishment. 

Following a complimentary lunch, Daniel Lightfoot, Syngenta’s UK and Ireland Business Manager, gave an informative presentation on the Art of Application, explaining how best to get the active ingredient where you want it. According to Daniel, this includes understanding the product being applied, where you want it to end up and then fine tuning the variables of nozzle selection, water volume and sprayer set-up to deliver to the right place at the right time. Daniel also demonstrated how too little water volume may not achieve sufficient coverage, while too much could over wet leaves and run off.

“The sprayer operators’ role is vital to balance all these factors to optimise results,” he says. 

Henry Bechelet, ICL Technical Manager for UK & Ireland and Simon Taylor, ICL Product and Business Development Manager for Turfgrass seeds, were next to provide top tips on how to Improve your Grass Seed Knowledge in which they discussed various topics regarding seed breeding, selection and management. The audience were asked to select from a list of 10 seed topics and then Simon and Henry thrashed out the issues in an entertaining and forthright fashion to get to the nub of each issue.

Tony Sinclair, Manchester United FC Grounds Manager, attended the event which took place at Liverpool FC’s Academy facility.

“I came along today and realised just how important these days are in terms of upgrading your education and learning new things. One thing about the industry we work in is that everything changes so quickly and every day is a new day so it is important to keep up with everything that is going on. There is no question that as things continue to move forward ICL will be a part of that – they are a massive player in educating people around the country,” he says.

Scott Reeves, Course Manager at Leyland Golf Club, adds: “We are at an interesting point within the industry regarding the use of chemicals and there seems to be a lot hearsay and misinformation around. Therefore it is worthwhile coming to an event such as this to get an update and find out exactly where we are.” 

Dr Christian Spring STRI, Research Operations Manager, says: “Today we have been looking at the practical demonstrations and they have been really fascinating because they have focussed on how to get the best out of the products we use and how to get optimum efficiency when we are applying wetting agents, fungicides, liquid nutrition and granular nutrition. It has been incredibly beneficial because it is all about getting the best bang for your buck and looking in details at all the stages we need to focus on in order to get the best possible results.”

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