All Treat Farms Limited has developed a premium, value-added compost to meet the strict demands of the turf industry for a quality organic soil amendment. The compost is derived from select feedstocks and uniquely processed to ensure consistency in performance. Highly variable and generic materials such as yard wastes have not been used.
The compost conforms to Canadian "Type AA" standards which denotes the highest quality compost available and is characterized by:
High organic matter content (> 50%)
Stability and maturity
The non-presence of harmful pathogens
The non-presence of inert contaminants such as plastic and metal
The non-presence of heavy metals
Low salt level (electrical conductivity)
The compost has undergone extensive testing at the Guelph Turfgrass Institute (GTI) and has proven to be suitable for rootzone, topdressing blends, and divot mixes. The material is screened to the appropriate mesh size (3mm-minus - 6mm-minus) depending upon application and is available in bulk or bag.
Rootz Zone Blend
In the construction of golf greens and tees, peat has been the traditional organic amendment used with sand when blending a growing medium to support turf grass. Peat was incorporated because of it's ability to hold water and nutrients. The utilization of peat for construction applications is currently under scrutiny because of problems associated with medium to long-term performance as well as problems associated with environmental impacts to wetland areas where peat is mined. Peat can be relatively inconsistent and contaminated with the fine silts and clays that can adversely affect and physical and hydraulic dynamics of the rootzone. Sand and peat can become incompatible over time to the point where areas within rootzone become hydrophobic. Localized dry spots that appear on the surface and which require an over-dependence on wetting agents are symptomatic of these hydrophobic conditions.
It is on this basis that All Treat Farms Limited identified the need to be proactive and develop an acceptable compost alternative to peat for greens' construction, an alternative that would provide the same benefits as peat but without the associated problems stated above.
Ideally, a growing medium should possess those physical, chemical and biological properties necessary to support germination, growth and establishment. Current United States Golf Association (USGA) recommendations for the composition of the rootzone has been given more emphasis to the physical/hydraulic criteria as measured by particle size, bulk density, total porosity, air-fillled and capillary porosity, saturated conductivity and volumetric water content. The compost was screened to 3 mm. The 80:20 sand to compost blend used for the rootzone field trails at the Guelf Turfgrass Institute ("GTI") was tested according to these parameters and the analysis indicated that the mix met and in some instances exceeded the USGA recommendations.
Performance data have indicated that compost is a superior alternative to peat when used as the organic amendment in sand-based rootzones. The 80:20 sand to compost mix met and exceeded USGA guidelines and recommendations. In all cases, the compost significantly out-performed the peat-based mix.
The data included:
Turf quality (colour, density, uniformity and cover)
Root systems (depth and mass)
Infiltration rate and water holding capacity
Tissue and soil analysis (N, P, K, micronutrients,
cation exchange capacity)
Disease suppression (dollarspot and take-all patch)
For the turf manager, the addition of compost optimizes those windows of opportunity available for seeding and subsequent turf establishment. Greens and tees constructed with premium compost can be opened for play sooner and healthy turf can be maintained with reduced product (fertilizers, fungicides and herbicides) and labour inputs.
Field trials at the GTI indicated that when compost was applied at regular intervals as a topdressing (both alone and in combination with sand), turf quality (especially colour and cover) and water retention was enhanced. The incidence of moss was also less on those plots treated with compost. There has been no observable incidence of layering to date and this situation will continue to be monitored.
The compost demonstrates a key ability to supplement fertility programs and this is of advantage to the turf manager in terms of product and labour savings.
Field trials were also conducted to evaluate the disease suppressive capability of the premium compost versus dollarspot and snow moulds (pink and grey).
Field trails were also conducted to evaluate the disease suppressive capability of the compost versus dollarspot (Sclerotinia homoeocarpa). Field plots inoculate with dollarspot were topdressed with compost every 3 weeks at 3 rates of application (25, 50 and 100 lbs/1000 sq.ft.). These treatments significantly suppressed dollarspots severity in comparison to untreated controls and were not significantly different from disease severity in plots treated with fungicide standard (chlorothalonil). The results indicate that topdressing with the compost every 3 weeks at rates between 25 to 100 lbs./1000 sq.ft. can suppress DollarSpot at levels comparable to a fungicide and contribute to reduced fungicide use.
In separate trail, a heavy (200 lbs./1000 sq.ft.) dormant application of compost was applied to a green of Owen Brook Golf Club (Bruce McNichol, Supt.) Apsley, Ontario to assess disease suppressive capability versus snow mould, pink (Typhula ishikariensis) and grey(Typhula incarnata). After snow melt the following spring the compost was well integrated into the surface of the green and had a significantly suppressed both snow moulds when compared to untreated parts of the same green. In the treated part of the green where the snow mould lesions did appear, they were significantly less pronounced in size, were self-contained and showed accelerated signs of recovery. In comparison, those lesions on the untreated part of the green were large, had "melted" together and were completely bleached out showing no signs of recovery. The utilization of compost for this application may well offer the turf manager an important insurance policy in lieu of problems associated with traditional measures of winter protection using fungicides and in fact may allow for reduced application rates of such fungicides. In addition to disease suppression, the late dormant application of compost dramatically improved turf quality the following spring. Growth, colour, density, uniformity and cover were all enhanced in the treated portions of the green relative to the untreated areas.
Trails to evaluate divot recovery using different blends were conducted at the Guelph Turfgrass Institute. All Treat Farms Premium Compost with seed ranked #1 in divot repair in terms of speed for complete recovery. In many cases, the use of the compost alone without any seed was shown to accelerate divot recovery.
Achieving quick divot recovery is a fundamental objective for all turf managers. Besides facilitating maintenance and playability, the proper and timely repair of divots demonstrates to the golfer the level of care being provided to the golf course. This result in an increased awareness and appreciation amongst golfers and will motivate them to replace and repair their divots as well as being careful not to create unnecessary divots in the first place.
Given its nutrient content, excellent water holding capacity, microbial activity and dark colour, All Treat Farms Premium Compost has proven to be a superior divot fill.
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