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Seaweed extract for turf resilience - Is it all hype?
Looking at what’s currently available on the market, there are seaweed products a-plenty.
But if you’re a turf professional, what should you look for? Don’t all seaweed products do pretty much the same job?
Given that there are different methods for collecting and extracting seaweed’s beneficial components and an array of products to choose from, the simple answer to that question is no; seaweed products are not all the same and produce very different responses in turf.
For any professional, it’s worth looking beyond the marketing hype and weighing up the evidence from product trials that demonstrate how seaweed extract actually improves the condition of the turf. What is also important is the percentage of active seaweed content in products, the tank mix compatibility, and, of course, value for money.
Ascophyllum nodosum seaweed (rockweed) is a marine plant of the northern Atlantic ocean and common on the north-western coast of Europe including east Greenland and the north-eastern coast of North America. Growing in cold, clean intertidal zone conditions, this plant can survive very demanding conditions. At high tide it’s immersed in cold, salty water and at low tide suffers dehydration and exposure in freezing temperatures, the very qualities that make seaweed effective and an ideal conditioning product for turf.
While there seems to be a general agreement in the sportsturf industry that that applying a seaweed product can have a positive effect as a tonic, the supporting evidence has been either anecdotal or based on crop trials rather than tested on turf. Yet, recent independent trials on turf with a new seaweed extract have produced convincing results.
ICL-Specialty Fertilizers has recently developed SeaMax, a new, premium, soluble, high density Atlantic Ascophyllum nodosum seaweed extract and the latest innovation as part of the Sportsmaster WSF range. SeaMax contains 75% active, high quality, high density seaweed extract, a significantly higher percentage compared to many seaweed products on the market. It is also, importantly, harvested from sustainable, renewable sources.
What independent trials found was that SeaMax helped the plant produce longer roots, a greater root mass and improved the quality of growth (shoot weight), compared to competitor products or control conditions, using no seaweed extract. Under drought conditions, the quality and colour of the turf improved noticeably when treated with SeaMax.
Seaweed extract appears to work by modifying the types and levels of microbes of the rhizosphere, acting like a pre-biotic to enhance the microbes and their interactions with roots. It is thought that there’s an effect on the plasticy and elasticity of cells which triggers the plant to respond and control water more efficiently through its stomata, which in turn improves root growth and plant vigour. This is why turf treated with seaweed extract is better able to resist stresses in periods of drought and extremes of weather.
A quality seaweed extract for turf is a complicated product containing a range of plant available micronutrients, amino acids, carbohydrates and bioactive molecules. How these interact within the turf plant is also a complex process at the cellular level, which science has yet to fathom. That said, independent tests again provide useful information about inputs required to gain maximum effect on turf. Tests show that low input rates of 1kg per hectare provide the most effective results.
Designed and developed for use on golf course greens, tees, fairways and on sports fields, SeaMax is soluble so is an ideal tank mix partner for liquid and foliar nutrition or to complement a granular fertilizer programme. A low input rate of 1kg per hectare makes SeaMax a perfect supplement to a turf nutritional programme, providing cost-effective support and efficient conditioning for the plant to help combat the season’s stresses.
Designed to enhance turf quality, colour and root growth, SeaMax can be used all year round and is available now from ICL-Specialty Fertilizers. For more information please contact your local technical adviser or visit www.icl-sf.com