The control of Weeds, Pest and Diseases in the sports turf and amenity industry is an ongoing challenge for most turf professionals / practitioners who throughout the calendar year face the prospect of having to deal with some sort of weed, pest and disease problem in their workplace.
Therefore, it is important that the practitioner has in place an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) strategy to deal with any of these occurring problems.
In the UK, there is a definition of IPM that the Government uses that comes from the Directive on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides (SUDP), which can be seen here.
This Directive establishes a framework to achieve a sustainable use of pesticides by reducing the risks and impacts of pesticide use on human health and the environment and promoting the use of integrated pest management and of alternative approaches or techniques such as non-chemical alternatives to pesticides.
This definition makes it clear that IPM covers all harmful organisms, including weeds, pests, and diseases. It also makes it clear that IPM should encompass a wide range of activities that relate to managing crop protection and plant health from rotation, variety choice, cultivation, genetics, monitoring, mechanical, biological, and chemical control through to record-keeping which tells us that the Government approach to IPM is wide in scope.
The aim of implementing an IPM strategy is to recognise and evaluate the least detrimental way of controlling the problem without the excessive use of pesticides.
The concept of IPM, as stated by Dr Colin Mumford, Envu’s Technical Support Manager is principally there are three distinct areas of management that turf managers and greenkeepers have at their control.
So, the first is the cultural control methods, followed by biological controls and then thirdly, chemical control and it's in that order that they should be carried out.
Essentially an IPM strategy is:
- Recognising the problem.
- Understanding the life cycle and the conditions these pests, weeds and diseases favour.
- Changing the environment.
- Correct cultural practices.
- Correct biological practices.
- Choosing the correct chemical product and applying at the right time.
- Timing of preventative activities (chemical and cultural methods).
- Monitoring and recording data and keeping a record of actions, and outcomes will help improve your knowledge and management of any future pest related problems.
The advantages that it gives to turf managers is that they're not putting all their eggs in one basket as it were. They're spreading the risk, managing the turf through various means that all complement each other, producing a healthier turf that’s better able to withstand attacks from diseases and pests.
It brings many benefits, not only to the facility and end users, but ensures a safer environment for all.
Primarily using sustainable cultural (physical), biological and other non-chemical methods must be preferred to chemical methods if they provide satisfactory pest control. When pesticides are needed, the focus is on selecting ones that are appropriate and most effective.
What does it mean for turf?
IPM has been around for a long time, especially in the horticultural industry but, with increasing environmental concerns and regulatory changes leading to a reduction of available pesticides, there’s been an increased interest in an IPM approach to managing turf.
Maintaining a healthy sward is a key attribute to reducing the incidence of any given turf weed, pest and disease problem while at the same time hopefully reducing the reliance on using a chemical control product.
There are several cultural practices that will help maintain a healthy sward, these come in the form of regular maintenance activities that need to be done throughout the year and particularly during the growing season. These include:
- Regular mowing of the sward
- Fertilising (Soil analysis for nutrient status)
- Supplemental irrigating
- Thatch management
- Dew removal
- Regular decompaction of soil (aeration) at different depths and when conditions allow
- Spring and autumn renovations.
It is important that turf professionals are also well versed and have an understanding of the life cycles of these weeds, pests and diseases. Once in receipt of this information they are better prepared to deal with them at the appropriate time and take the right course of action.
The weather and geographic location will have a bearing on what actions are available to take in terms of carrying out the above cultural practices and the choice and selections of the chemical products at a given time of the year.
Plant Protection Products (Sustainable Use) Regulations 2012 (PPPSUR) sets out the competence requirements for sale and use of PPPs, the use, handling and storage requirements of PPPs and requirements for the inspection of PPP equipment. PPPSUR also set out what enforcement action the authorities can take. Details here.
As modern sports turf management techniques continue to evolve, so do the tools for managing weeds, insects, and disease. There are now more resources and information at hand and a better understanding of soils, weeds, pest and diseases that enable turf professionals to make the best use of resources and mechanical aids to help reduce the incidence of these pest problems.
Envu, bring a 100+ year track record in research and solutions with products to manage weeds, disease and harmful insects and fungi. Their robust portfolio also includes natural solutions, such as biologicals, that use nature’s own defences to protect turf.