Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ascophyllum nodosum

Or for those that don't know...quite simply Seaweed or "compost of the sea". Yes here at The Minikahda Club we apply seaweed or more specifically seaweed extract to our finer turf species. We have only been making these applications for the past five years. For some reason seaweed extract is not a widely used product in our industry, only over the past few years have I seen interest grow towards the use of this product. Oh sure seaweed extract can be found in a combination of products that include a multitude of other ingredients, but it's almost rare to find a Superintendent making sure that seaweed extract is specifically being applied on a bi-weekly basis to their finer sward of grasses. What makes it so suprising is that more than a century ago this was common practice of greenkeepers in the British Ilses. These guys would cover greens in rotting seaweed for weeks before it was removed and then stacked on a pile of sand for later use to be used as topdressing. Somewhere through the years this practice was almost all but forgotten. Now as many work towards implementing a more organic based fertilizer program, seaweed extract is making its way into many Superintendents programs.

So what are the benefits of seaweed extract and why do we choose to use this natural product? Well to begin with seaweed extract is just that, a natural product that provides a whole host of benefits. Not considered as a fertilizer, as it does not stimulate top growth, it is usually referred to as a biostimulant (a term used for different compounds that help plants with stress). Seaweed is loaded with Antioxidants (which also means it contains vitamins A, C and E) and contains a wealth of trace minerals vital to plant functions and microbial balance in the soils.


There are also two other key components to seaweed extract and they are both natural growth hormones, cytokinins and auxins. The hormone cytokinin helps to boost the plants antioxidant pool to help fight damage by free radicals. Cytokinin also helps the plant to produce more antioxidants. Thus helping the plant to fight the stresses that are continually placed on it. One of the great benefits of auxins, these are the hormones that tell the plant to product more roots. Which is extremely benefical during the most stressful times of the summer and is one of the main reasons why seaweed extract is added to so many products and is one of the main reasons why I love using the product.

Increased drought tolerance, stress tolerance, heat tolerance and cold tolerance as well as increased rooting are all benefits of applying seaweed extract to our finer turf sward. The product which we apply is extremely ecomonical and for the benefits the plants receive in exchange it is well worth every dollar spent.

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