Community playing fields and other outdoor recreation areas are some of the most important assets local government has the responsibility of managing. There has been a dramatic increase in population on the mid-north coast of New South Wales which is predicted to continue at an accelerated rate over the next 10-15 years. This will place enormous demands on the management of all infrastructure especially areas requiring the provision of water on a large scale to maintain their viability as an acceptable and safe playing surface,
Compaction, erosion and a soil column that is overworked and under nourished adversely affects all plants. These existing conditions have been exacerbated in the last 5 years by a dramatic reduction in rainfall and have rendered some local government reserves unsafe for active recreation..
Many councils have a lack of funding available for restoration of damaged playing fields and their communities suffer a reduction in playing field quality. This may result in a lack of participation in outdoor sport as a result of poor pitches and grounds contributing to player injury from hard surfaces. Watering is often restricted to only the highest profile reserves and is expensive and difficult to justify in these dry times.
AgriSense has developed a system of soil amelioration using a liquid compost and some common place, inexpensive food sources that dramatically mitigates soil column degeneration and improves soil health, water use efficiency and groundwater quality. The use of an actively aerated compost tea (Liquid Compost) on pastures and crops can easily be adapted to a recreational turf environment with dramatic results.
Many of the reactions between key groups of microbes are vital to the ongoing health and well being of our plants and if these microbes are nurtured and bolstered with a few simple techniques there can be a massive increase in plant and soil health. Conversely excessive use of chemicals and reductions in water availability will in time weaken and sterilise the sward and disrupt is natural ability to defend itself from climatic fluctuations, disease and pests.
Microbes are crucial to soil health. Bacteria, fungi. protozoans and beneficial nematodes all combine to create the Soil Foodweb, the critical interaction of life in the soil that nourishes and protects plants while it improves soil structure and reduces erosion..
The main functional groups of soil microbes are as follows:
Bacteria fix nitrogen, attack and consume some fungal diseases, denature toxins, stick microscopic soil particles together and provide food for other important soil and leaf organisms.
Fungi organise soil structure, improve water holding capacity, drainage, reduce soil compaction, consume thatch and dramatically reduce leaching. Fungi also associate with root systems to help with uptake of nutrients and trap and feed on some disease causing organisms
Protozoans feed on bacteria, both harmful and beneficial, leaving plant available nutrients in the root zone after taking the carbon they require.
Beneficial Nematodes feed on bacteria,fungi, and protozoans as well as pathogenic fungi and contribute significantly to nutrient uptake and soil health
Properly introduced and managed, soil; biology is the turf manager’s most potent tool in the constant struggle to maintain soil and turf health. The a healthy soil is at its strongest will:
- Reduce compaction & improve soil structure
- Enhance soil moisture retention
- Reduce gravitational water loss in soil
- Stimulate root growth and size
- Increase nutrient cycling & retention
- Improve drainage
- Breakdown salts & chemical residues
- Reduce foliar & soil disease pressure
- Increase Cation Exchange (CEC) & pH buffering