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By Neville Passmore

 

State Wide Turf Services

Jerrod (Kiwi) Hall has been in the turf care industry in WA for most of the 18 years since arriving from New Zealand. He commenced his own business in 2009 when a number of previous customers urged him to get back to looking after grass because he did it so well. Now 5 years later the business has grown to be one of the largest turf care contractors in WA.

I met Kiwi on the site of a coastal oval, less than one kilometre from the beach, where his team were spreading C-Wise Sports over what can only be described as a sick grass. The oval was heavily invaded by sting nematode, a microscopic pest, that gnaws away at the roots of turf grass leaving it vulnerable to any stress that comes along, particularly a lack of moisture and an excess of heat. As we were coming into late spring the timeline to disaster was pretty short. The grass was patchy and much of it had browned off.

b_156_208_16777215_00_images_existing_pics_number_4_IMG_6339.jpg Nematode affected grass pulled out of the soil by vertimower 

 b_200_150_16777215_00_images_existing_pics_number_4_IMG_6376.jpg Roots destroyed making it easy to pull up turf.

 

I saw areas of bare soil where the lawnmowers had pulled the Kikuyu grass straight out of the ground; the roots were so weak. The finely sieved Sports Blend was propelled out of the 7 cubic metre capacity spreader with spinning fans. I was impressed by the evenness of the spread and that after the first pass which dropped a 2mm thick layer of the mix onto the grass you couldn't see where it had landed, as it was absorbed by the blades of grass.

How does the soil carbon fix the nematode problem? Nematodes are part of the fauna that lives under the soil. These can build up to damaging numbers where conditions are right. Essentially this organism thrives in low nutrient, low carbon soils where it successfully outcompetes other soil organisms to dominate the scene. Adding soil carbon, thats in the Sports Blend, helps create a biodiverse environment where beneficial organisms go to war with the nematodes and drop their numbers to trace levels. At the same time the humus improves the water holding capacity of the soil reducing the need for luxury water application which is typical of nematode affected grass. Fertilisers are more effective also as the soil carbon is able to hold and then redistribute nutrients back to the turf.

Once, when faced with nematode infestation, turf managers used to look to nematicides, highly toxic chemical control measures to bring the pest to heal. The cost of application, not to mention the danger to sprayer staff and players subsequently using the recreation areas, made this a non solution.

Kiwi said that treating affected turf with the organic solution was now well proven and accepted by Local Government Authorities and the race track managers he works with. This was a forerunner of more organic maintenance programs he now sees occurring. While the oval he was treating on the day will get a 10mm thick layer of the C-Wise Sports Blend (this equates to 100 cubic metres per hectare), maintenance applications can vary from 2mm to 5mm thick.

b_227_170_16777215_00_images_existing_pics_number_4_IMG_6344.jpg Balloon tyres allow spreading operations without compacting the grass.

 

 

The equipment to spread at these levels of exactness is key to the success of the business. Kiwi runs a fleet of 14 Kubota tractors, 1 loader, 11 trucks and two agriculture multi spreaders to deliver services throughout the state. I was impressed with the balloon tyres with which all the 'on turf' equipment was fitted, that left not even a track in the grass. Compaction is a real issue for turf and regular thin tyres create drainage problems wherever they travel, particularly with spreaders carrying up to 8 tonne of product.

b_317_238_16777215_00_images_existing_pics_number_4_IMG_6369.jpgFinely screened Sports is evenly spread over a number of passes.

 

Kiwi has found that treating turf with relatively high levels of soil carbon can create drainage issues. As a result he recommends hollow tyne coreing at least once per year after these heavy applications. The business carries out a wide range of turf maintenance and renovation services from verti-draining, verti-mowing, 'Earthquaking', overseeding, pesticide spraying, fertilising and top dressing with both sand and organic carbon.


Kiwi complemented Cecilia Le Roux, C-Wise's Logistics Coordinator for making everything work easily and seamlessly, the product as being consistent and always successful and the trucking service MIM for extraordinary communication when it comes to deliveries. 

 b_303_156_16777215_00_images_existing_pics_number_4_IMG_6396.jpg Loading the blend in the hard paved carpark.