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With this week being grounds week, where we all take a step back and celebrate the role of our professional grounds staff, volunteers, and the turf sector play in making sport possible.  We wanted to share with everyone our most recent research project that looks to tackle a hot topic in the industry.

Sustainability and what that really means for turf managers is a question I often ponder. How can we truly manage turf is a sustainable way, environmentally, socially and economically? We all too often think of sustainability as green, this is not the case. The most environmentally “green” way to manage turf is to not mow it and allow nature to take over… not much fun for the sport, or the business, I hope you’ll agree! So, assuming we are all still striving to present high quality turf surfaces we turn our attention to the topic of fertilisation. Specifically, can using a more sustainable nutrition source be an effective way of maintaining turf quality on a sports pitch?

Synthetic fertiliser will always have its place in the world. We simply cannot achieve the same levels of nutrition without it. However, in a situation where high nitrogen levels are not always required, can using 100% organic fertilisers give results? Sustane is the worlds leading organic fertiliser. Produced using aerobically composted turkey litter, a by product itself, it is the combined with plant nutrients and soil amending ingredients in a homogeneous granule fertiliser that provides high quality turf nutrition. A truly sustainable (REMEMBER: environmentally, socially and economically) fertiliser. Unsurprisingly, the nutritional value of a high organic fertiliser is lower than of its synthetic counterpart. However, if we tailor our maintenance practices, we can supply similar nutritional values. Here’s the plan:

In collaboration with Loughborough University, AGS have commissioned the following study:

To determine if organic based turf nutrition can provide similar pitch performance to synthetic nutrition whilst increasing the overall sustainability at Loughbourough University.

A mouthful, I know… This is the basic idea:

In March 2022, three pitches of similar construction and geography at Loughborough University are to be Koro’ed off and sown with Barenbrug low Nitrogen requirement grass seed (separate data available).

That is where the similarities end. Each pitch will now be grown in and maintained for the next 24 months using very different nutritional inputs.

Pitch 1: Fully Synthetic (Maintained using synthetic fertilisers only)

Pitch 2: Hybrid (Maintained using both synthetic and organic fertilisers)

Pitch 3: Fully Organic (Yes, this will be maintained using only organic nutritional sources!)

The nutrition (including nitrogen) supplied will be as similar as possible when dealing with differing analyses. And, of course, the pitches will be played on, a lot! It is always difficult to reduce variables in large scale trials such as this, but it will no doubt point out what can be achieved using organic and synthetic fertilisers in a tough winter sport environment.

Data will collected, alongside our partners, ProPitch. This allows us to monitor the pitch and log the results in their dedicated app. It also allows us to make independent objective measurements at regular intervals and provide you with periodic updates.

I hope that gives you a taste of what is to come. Trials start in March 2022 and last 2 years. Keep an eye out for update events and webinars. If you want anymore information on AGS products or services, please contact us today!

AGS – Supply, Consult, Support

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