An article from Horticulture Week - 20 November 2017, by Sarah Cosgrove.
"A trial of a turf improver with its roots in traditional methods has allowed green-keepers to cut fertiliser by 20% and eliminate fungicide completely on two greens.
One of the trial greens after treatment. Image: Carbon Gold
Okehampton Golf Club, located in Dartmoor National Park, has trialled Carbon Gold’s Enriched Biochar Soil Improver on two areas since this spring. The product is a horticultural form of charcoal blended with fungi, bacteria and trace minerals, and is approved by EU certification bodies for organic growing.
Using the soil improver harks back to common practice of a century ago, when Greenkeepers used charcoal to keep greens porous and firm, and to improve the appearance and colour of turf. Now Greenkeepers have a new incentive to rediscover the old methods, following an EU ruling to withdraw products containing the chemical iprodione, which are used to treat fusarium patch (Microdochium nivale) among other turf diseases.
David Chammings, amenity specialist for Sherrif Amenity, a division of Agrovista UK, has been the chairman of greens at Okehampton Golf Club for the past three years. He approached Carbon Gold with the trial idea. He and course manager Stuart Entwhistle chose two areas of the golf course to be trial areas: the fifth green – a very sandy newly-extended area of the green, which leaches nutrient heavily and the 12th green – the ‘disease indicator’ green, placed in the Ockment Valley. It is surrounded by trees and receives very little winter sunlight.
Greenkeepers applied Enriched Biochar Soil Improver in March 2017. Both greens were 13mm hollow tined to a depth of 100mm. 1kg per m2 of Carbon Gold’s Enriched Biochar Soil Improver was brushed in – in the same way sand is commonly brushed into turf – over an area of 100m2 per green.
Okehampton currently fertilises the greens five times a year. Greenkeepers continued to fertilise the trial areas, at the same rate as the rest of the greens, but found that in the summer the fifth green looked healthier and was holding nutrient a lot more efficiently so decided to miss an application on this area. After three weeks, the fifth green looked as healthy as the rest of the green. An increase in nutrient holding capacity in the sandy rootzones was also noted.
The course also ordinarily gets an application of fungicide twice yearly and up to four times a year to treat fusarium patch (Microdochium nivale). It costs Okehampton £700 to treat the whole course once. But Chammings and Entwhistle found that the trial areas needed no fungicide application all year. The trial areas also stayed dry during this year’s wet summer.
Chammings now plans to extend the trial to cover two entire greens which they will monitor throughout 2018.
He said he would "highly recommend the use of Carbon Gold’s enriched biochar to all Greenkeepers and groundsmen for the wider benefits of the product."
"I believe that Biochar will be used throughout this industry in the not too distant future."