Growth Degree Days help Broadway GC reduce chemicals and improve course condition
Story published at 10:47, Wednesday, February 17th, 2016
Located on the edge of the Vale of Evesham, Broadway Golf Club is considered one of the finest members’ golf clubs in the Cotswolds. Having been at the club for 29 years, and Head Greenkeeper since 2008, Jamie Blake is on a two-pronged mission to switch the club to a preventative maintenance regime to reduce chemical applications, and improve the overall course condition.
The greens at Broadway are mainly Poa annua and were in the past, susceptible to disease. Although Jamie and his team had made good strides in reducing attacks over the years, they were still managing disease reactively which often meant high chemical usage.
A few years ago, Jamie attended a talk by Headland Amenity’s Mark Hunt who discussed the potential benefits of using Growth Degree Days (or GDD’s) as a method of creating a more effective chemical application programme. “The concept sounded interesting so I went away and started recording data such as rainfall, temperature and disease incidence and compared this with observations of the grass conditions.”
In the second year, Jamie was able to use the data to start planning applications of Plant Growth Regulators (PGR’s). “Using the GDD figures and correlated course conditions we worked out that we needed to apply PGR’s every 150 days to maximise efficiency. By taking a more scientific approach to applications and working proactively, we have achieved fantastic results.” Now into the third year of the programme, Jamie is continuing to learn more from the results and is now using the GDD data to plan other maintenance activities such as aeration and topdressing.
This technique has also meant Jamie has achieved his aim of reducing chemical applications. “I try to minimise using chemicals where I can so when I took over I tried to use none, which didn’t work too well!” As part of his foundation degree Jamie investigated different types of disease management, comparing biological and chemical methods. In the preventative test trials Jamie used Headland’s Throttle fungicide. “I followed the instructions of Headland’s Adi Masters to the letter and couldn’t believe the results we achieved, it was amazing! We now use Throttle as part of our preventative programme across the course and we are not having to use any other chemicals. Everybody’s happy – I’m not having to apply a lot of fungicide and the golfers and members can see the course is kept healthy.”
Final word from Jamie, “Being proactive rather than reactive is working well for us and that all comes back to the GDD analysis. If you make observations too late you are only reacting to a problem, but if follow a proactive regime you’ll always be in control and ahead of the game.”
Broadway Golf Club www.broadwaygolfclub.co.uk
Headland Amenity www.headlandamenity.com