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Raising the Standards

Posted on June 10, 2013 at 10:30 AM

An article written to accompany a recent educational seminar in Australia this Spring.

Everyone in the turf business knows that the quality of cut is everything.

It seems such a simple statement, but we all know that there are plenty of things that turn the practicality of achieving this in to a nightmare.

Take the weather, which seems to be in a strange and unsettled place at the moment. All round the world, people have experienced odd unpredictable extremes; out-of-season blasts of heat, record rainfalls, bitter temperatures and excessive snowfalls – you name it, we’ve had it all.

Along side that we have water issues. We have all become more aware of the need to preserve this precious commodity and Australia, more than most countries, has experienced severe droughts over the years. There is no getting away from it – turf needs water but we can do things to prevent loss of moisture from the plant.

Then we have disease. Diseases can be treated, but usually by using costly and potentially harmful chemicals. None of us want to be cavalier in their use. We turf carers prefer the ‘preventative’ methods.

SO – what can we all do to raise the standard and quality of turf presentation?

Any agronomist will tell you that cutting grass with a surgically sharp blade will produce healthier grass.

Why?

If your blade is not sharp enough, your cutting machine will tear at the grass leaving uneven and poorly cut blade tips. These ripped and ragged blades of grass will bleed plant moisture and nutrient.  They will also be far more susceptible to disease. It is easy to see for yourself. Very quickly you will find that the grass needs more care – more money spent on it to bring it back to good health, and that is a waste of time, energy and money.

Sharpen your blades regularly and you will find that the grass not only looks healthier but that is becomes denser, greener and has more definition.  Furthermore, the sward will be much more consistent, providing sportsmen with the improved playability that they demand these days.  Quite apart from this, you will be able to inform members that you have managed to reduce the need for dangerous chemicals, that you are using less water and that you are generally doing a lot to protect the environment.

During a recent educational Seminar in Sydney, hosted by Pro Turf, Steve Wilson from Bernhard & Co talked about the benefits of sharpening and machine set-up. Steve, who has always enjoyed teaching said, “I think it’s important to not just talk about the benefits, but to get out there and demonstrate them, so we set up some mowers and cut some grass and had the participants look at the cut through macroscopes.

Many of the attendees have never used macroscopes before and were fascinated to see the difference side by side with torn, ragged tips of the grass cut with blunt blades. It really helps to understand what we are talking about and how easy it is to change the condition and finish of your turf.”