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TECHNICAL


Renovation - Scarifying - September 2018


Even before Carbendazim lost its licence approval, we


were already moving towards other control methods, and since then we’ve avoided the temptation to use other products off-label to stimulate a side-effect solution


such as Iprodione - the plants got sick, and we gave it the antibiotic to make it better. The problem we have now is that the antibiotics have gone, so we have to think differently. Preventative fungicides are very different to the curatives we used to have. Where the curatives we had in the past could be applied reactively, we now have to be proactive in our approach to disease management. In that sense, the preventative fungicides we now have are more like vaccines. This means we’re now in a situation where we have to vaccinate our plants before they get sick - a little bit like going to get your winter flu jab before flu season begins.


On paper, this sounds great; if the plant doesn’t get sick in the first place, then there will never be any disease outbreak in the first place. The problem, of course, is that our preventative fungicides only work for a limited time-frame, much like some vaccinations which need topping up. The


challenge then is to identify periods of disease pressure and make applications before outbreaks occur.


This is easier said than done; applying too often will lead to wasted money on unnecessary chemical applications, whilst not applying often enough (or at the right times more specifically) will allow disease outbreaks to occur - and with no curative fungicides to then treat the outbreak, as turf managers, we’re still stuck!


So, how does all of this impact us at Edgbaston Priory? Well, for us, it has necessitated a change in mind-set with our approach to managing our eight championship grass tennis courts. Perhaps the biggest piece of work we undertook was back in 2017, when our Senior Groundsperson, Sue Lawrence, was tasked with carrying out an audit of all the chemicals we had applied in recent years, as well as anything we had in our chemical cabinet. The key thing we wanted to understand was what we were trying to achieve with each chemical we used, and to begin to try and come up with alternative ways to achieve our goals, should the chemicals go off the market.


In reality, this is a process that we had been implementing in the long term anyway on an ongoing basis. For example, anyone who has read our articles on dealing with casting worms will know that we’d been investigating alternative avenues to Carbendazim long before it was taken off the market. However, with the changing climate in relation to chemical usage and the sudden rush of chemical withdrawals, we felt it would be prudent to carry out a full audit of our processes.


Spraying - Centre Court - March 2019 128 PC April/May 2019


The bottom line is that we just do not know how long each active ingredient will be around for, and so we wanted to try and put ourselves in a position whereby, if we suddenly, for example, lost all fungicides, we would already have a plan in place to deal with such a scenario. We should stress that this doesn’t mean that we are going to stop using fungicides, but rather we’re trying to reduce our reliance on using fungicides to as





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