Turf Australia’s NxGen Forum for 2017 was a roaring success with young industry professionals from across Australia attending en masse.
One of the key addresses from the NxGen Forum 2017 was a consideration about how the industry can better tackle turf disease and improve the viability of turf during growth. Read what speaker Michelle Dickinson had to say on the issues below.
According to Michelle Dickinson, of the Sports Turf Research Institute, having a beneficial understanding of turf diseases and how to avoid them through good soil management can go a long way to ensuring growers produce clean turf.
Michelle presented at NxGen on diseases in turf and highlighted to turf farmers the changing nature of these diseases and how being aware of which diseases exist in the industry, how to identify, avoid, and treat them would benefit their own businesses and the industry as a whole.
The above image shows the variety of diseases that can affect turf in Australia
Michelle explained to growers, that a number of issues were impacting the rise of disease in turf.
First, changes in the climatic seasons across Australia have seen diseases which were usually only prevalent when the turf was dormant are now active when turf is growing.
Second, when trying to identify turf diseases, visual inspections may no longer be good enough or accurate.
“Many diseases look very different under a microscope compared to using the naked eye, so growers need to take the time, in particular during summer, to have diseases cultured and identified under a microscope. While this process may take two weeks, this is not too long to wait when a disease is known to return annually” said Michelle.
Turf farmers should know and nurture their soil microbiology so that the crop works effectively and therefore increases its disease resistance.
Michelle explained the known factors to influence turf disease development included:
- Electrical conductivity (EC)
- Organic Matter
- Carbon: Nitrogen (C:N)
- Soil Structure
- Nutrition – soil and plant
- Temperature - soil and air
- Soil Microbiology
From an agronomic point of view, Michelle said the best way to manage disease was by managing and balancing cations, nutrients and soil biology.
This required a comprehensive soil analysis to determine:
- Cations: - Ca, Mg, K, Na and H
- pH, EC, TSS, CEC, Ca:Mg
- Nutrition: - N, P, K, S, Fe, Mn, Mo, Zn, Cu, B
- Organic Matter, Organic Carbon, C:N
- Biology: - Total Active Fungi
- Lactic Acid Bacteria
- Photosynthetic Bacteria
Michelle finished the address by reminding growers that “Not all soil tests were the same and a non-comprehensive analysis had the potential to reduce your ability to manage your soil and turf health.”