microbes right on course
concerns are leading many greenkeepers to cut back as much as possible on chemical
use. This seems to make sense as some chemicals have been banned over the years
- and the ones remaining often seem less effective.
Wood, head greenkeeper at Hadden Hill Golf Club, near Didcot in Oxfordshire, was
as concerned as any. "Once a month we were applying fungicides and had to use
special masks and equipment to carry it out," says Mick. "I wanted to get away
from all that and follow a more environmental route." Two years ago he opted to
use Biotal’s ‘Restore the Balance’ programme on his course. "So far it has been
very promising and there has been an improvement in the quality and health of
the sward. Initially I was just going to trial but because of the amount I was
spending on chemicals and the considerable reduction I would make in my costs,
I went straight into using the micro-balance programme in April 2000," he says.
"If it did not work I was never going to use it again. "We noticed a difference
on the greens side quite quickly," says Mick. "We used to have black layer, which
I partly put down to the chemicals we used, but since adopting the programme it
has reduced. The layer has gone down to ½ to ¼ inch from the previous level of
1 to 1½ inches. In some places it has been totally eradicated."
there are around 20 other courses within 20 miles of Hadden Hill, Mick has to
keep-up high standards. "There is still anthracnose on the course," he says, "so
we put chemicals down once a year and I will be doing that now at the end of the
long rough, which are set aside areas to encourage wildlife, we do not spray at
all for weeds." "Biotal is straightforward to apply," says Mick. "UK microbes
are used, not American, so it is designed for all UK soil types, which was an
important factor to me. If greenkeepers are nervous about using this biological
system I suggest they trial two to three greens, their worst ones. It does not
cost a fortune and they can evaluate the improvement for themselves." "We have
good drainage on the greens but as we have a clay soil we aerate the course to
open it up. On the fairways we verti-drain and slit once every six weeks through
the winter period. Good maintenance practices are still vital," says Mick, "and
we now have a really good rooting system."