Laboratory and glasshouse trials are perfect for demonstrating and indicating what effect a product may have when used in the real world. However, these results have little value unless the products can be shown to provide the same benefits in field conditions when a much greater range of factors are at play that could influence their performance. These factors include changeable weather conditions, different soil types and different management programmes.
In Spring 2020, a comprehensive field trial was set up to assess how the surfactants will perform on an actual golf course. The trial incorporates all the bio- and organic products that we believe have strong potential, along with synthetic and already available organic products for comparisons. The trial area will be managed in the same way as the rest of the golf course in terms of cutting and feeding in order to simulate real-world conditions, but water will be largely withheld. This is so that the primary function of surfactants (alleviating dry patch and soil water repellency) can be assessed over the summer months. We hope to also assess any impacts the products may have on the different grass species that make up a typical golf green sward.
The trial uses standard metre squared plots (which can be seen marked out below). 60 plots in total certainly made for a long day of spraying! We have tested the products at a range of application rates so we can determine what rate provides the best performance. We will of course also be checking for any negative effects the products could have on the quality of the surface.
After one treatment application and even without consistent dry conditions, we can already see some differences between treatments – some are certainly performing better than others! Some dew dispersal effects were also noticeable on a crisp morning in March (see photo below). We are excited to see how the trial progresses with further treatment applications and what is expected to be a hot and dry summer.
Early spring results have certainly been positive with several treatments attracting our attention, even after only a single application. We will be continuing our investigations and shall return to the trial for more in-depth studies once we can all get back to normal.
In the meantime, stay safe everyone!