Biostimulants are substances and microorganisms applied to plants and rootzones to enhance plant growth, and rootzone microbial activity. Historically the diversity of biostimulant products available was limited but in recent years a plethora of new products have come to the market in response to an increase in demand and interest. The value of the global market has grown annually by over 10% each year for the last decade, and more and more products are marketed as biostimulants. In this increasingly crowded marketplace the Turf Manager needs to carefully consider the products selected to form part of their turf maintenance programme.
Whilst biostimulants can never replace macronutrients there are many reasons why a Turf Manager would include them to support their annual nutritional programme. In recent years, the Turf Industry has taken a greater interest in soil biology and the benefits a healthy soil can have for the overall health of turf. The focus of many professionals has changed from ‘turf growth’ to overall ‘turf health’ with the aim of achieving greater levels of surface consistency, establishing better control of playing qualities and reducing disease occurrence.
With claims of improving rooting, encouraging microbial activity, increasing organic-matter breakdown, improved disease and drought resistance, amongst other things, biostimulants appear to be the ‘silver bullet’ supplement that modern professionals need. However, whilst it has been generally perceived that biostimulants have beneficial effects on turf health, evidence has often been anecdotal. There are a few well-researched products available, which have the advantage of having ‘proven’ themselves and have supporting independent evidence of how they work and the benefits they can provide. These products will provide the most consistent and reliable turf response.
Vitalnova Blade is a carefully formulated biostimulant for turf developed by ICL to boost microbial activity and encourage better rooting, amongst other things. It is a product that combines seaweed and carbohydrates to provide a readily available source of carbon together with a range of micronutrients, amino acids and bioactive molecules. Consequently, regular applications of Vitalnova Blade through the growing season have been independently proven to stimulate soil biology and plant growth to enhance the benefits of a conventional fertiliser programme.
Independent research for Vitalnova Blade has demonstrated an increase in soil borne microorganisms as well as improved rooting. Plots treated with Vitalnova Blade showed a doubling of indigenous mycorrhiza levels as well as up to a 50% increase in beneficial bacteria levels when compared with untreated control plots. Such increases in fungal and bacterial activity increase soil nutrient re-cycling to help release ‘locked-up’ nutrients and enhance growth.
Furthermore, the same trials showed a 40% increase in rootmass compared with the untreated control plots. With a greater rootmass the turf’s ability to take up nutrients and water is increased to give a stronger, healthier plant and minimise stress which leads to better pest and disease resistance. The small quantity of macronutrients included within Vitalnova Blade (5-6.5-3.5) also help to enhance the benefits of routine fertiliser inputs by supplying a direct source of readily available nutrients to support overall plant health.
Dr Andy Owen ICL International Technical Manager says: ‘Vitalnova Blade is a well-researched biostimulant for turf surfaces. The components have been carefully formulated for the best results. We have independent trials data that shows it can improve turf rooting and mycorrhizal association. In my opinion it is a great product for feeding your soil biology and all round turf health’.
Formulated for use on golf course greens, tees, fairways and sports fields, Vitalnova Blade is designed to be used during the growing season (April – September) with the first application being made once consistent growth has been achieved. It is best applied monthly at between 20-30 l/ha and makes the perfect tank-mix partner for Greenmaster liquid fertilizers and Seamax Seaweed where the aim is to optimise turf health and recovery and maintain a natural colour. It can also be tank-mixed safely with Primo Maxx where a growth regulator is required although the application rate may need to be altered depending upon the frequency of Primo Maxx application.
When used regularly on sand-based surfaces, whether fine turf or sports field turf, the significant improvement Vitalnova Blade offers in microbial activity and the associated increase in nutrient recycling, coupled with the improvement in rooting most users see really does amplify the benefits which can be gained.
On sports fields where the time available for renovation is short and the pressure to regain sward cover is high, apply Vitalnova Blade alone or in conjunction with a good wetting agent to increase the rate of establishment and speed up canopy closure. Apply at 30 l/ha once the seed has popped and germination has started. Further applications can be made once the second leaf stage has been reached and then it is recommended that these continue on a monthly basis and in conjunction with Greenmaster Liquid and Seamax to optimise turf health.
Designed to boost microbial activity, improve root growth and manage stress Vitalnova Blade is a biostimulant that will enhance your routine fertilizer programme. It is available now from ICL-Specialty Fertilizers.