Stop, not another drop! – Moisture management

It's been wet, very wet. And seeing surface water is unlikely to make you start thinking about keeping moisture in the soil ... right now you want it gone!

But the unfortunate and fickle thing about water is it tends to be boom and bust.

We have so much right now that it’s hard to imagine a time when turf health will be struggling due to not enough water in the near future, but it almost certainly will, it’s just a question of when.

Soil moisture is an area of the turf industry where we’re becoming a lot more data focused.

Yes some are logging clipping yields daily, and most will be looking at performance metrics (pace and firmness) at key times, but soil moisture figures are quickly becoming a mainstay for responsibly managing turf grass.

The more of this kind of data we capture, and sit along side how the surfaces are doing, the more it starts to mean. Each grass species or cultivar will have a moisture range where is happy and healthy, it will be able to persist outside of this range for a time. Depending on root depth/mass and plant health going into that stress period.

But outside of these anomalies, where you are stretching the plants capacities, hopefully only ever for a short period. It’s good practice to keep the root zone in that ideal moisture zone, so the plant is more resilient to pest activity, disease infection and ware.

So at the risk of being heckled in the street, as it’s so wet and conserving water sounds fully out of touch:

You can see in the graph above the breakdown of ET in mm over the year for three locations in the different colours.

April is the month when the rate of ET (Evapotranspiration) – the amount of moisture lost from the surface (measured in mm – like the polar opposite of rainfall records) really starts to jack up.

A good exercise would be to think about when you’ll need water this year?

When did you first irrigate last year?

Soil can only hold so much water, so even it it has water pooling on top of it, once the ET levels start to pick up you’ll be surprised how rapidly things start to dry down.

The Turf Advisor app has a dedicated module on ET which is ideal for turf managers to use to monitor the situation as we move into the warm season, if you haven’t already tried give it a go.

It’s a number to get to know, which the great and the good of turf management are already leveraging to allow them to deliver optimised surfaces, and it can be in your pocket for free.

I’ll do some more blogs on ET as the season progresses, as moisture management is only going to become more important in coming years.

In the mean time, download the Turf Advisor App by clicking the image below. It’s free for both Apple and Android.

Download the Turf Advisor App from Syngenta here

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