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Sports Turf NW is happy to have been assisting Oregon State University’s Department of Horticulture with some recent tests on natural turf (particularly golf course turf). Researcher and graduate student, Clint Mattox, was interested in alternatives to pesticides for golf courses. A common problem with particularly cool season golf courses is a fungi called Microdochium. In layman’s terms, it is referred to as Pink Snow Mold and Microdochium patch. The question posed by Mattox was whether UVC (a form of ultraviolet light used to destroy bacteria on synthetic turf), and the 850 GreenZapr in particular, would be able to eliminate the pesky fungi. With similar interest in the possibility, Sports Turf NW let researchers at Oregon State University borrow the GreenZapr to find out.

What is Microdochium (Pink Snow Mold vs. Microdochium Patch)?

Golf Course Fairy Ring
Golf courses do not want to see these rings appear.

Microdochium seems to affect Bentgrass and Kentucky Bluegrass varietals the most, which also happen to be very popular for golf courses and lawns in the Pacific Northwest. There are two types of Microdochium infections, one referred to as Pink Snow Mold and the other as Microdochium patch. The difference between the two involves weather conditions. According to North Carolina State University Turf Files,

Pink snow mold develops during periods of snow cover, with symptoms of the disease becoming evident as the snow melts. The disease appears in roughly circular patches from 2 inches to 1 foot in diameter that are white or light tan in color. A ring of salmon or pink-colored growth is present on the outer edge of patches when the disease is actively developing. The infected leaves within the patches are usually collapsed and matted down upon themselves.

Microdochium nivale may also infect turfgrasses in the absence of snow cover during periods of cool, wet weather; in these cases, the disease is referred to as Microdochium patch. The symptoms of Microdochium patch are slightly different than pink snow mold. The patches are similar to pink snow mold in size and shape, but are reddish-brown or salmon-colored and greasy in appearance. When the disease is actively developing, the patches may be surrounded by a dark brown or bronze ring.

Can the GreenZapr Be Used To Eliminate Microdochium?

Researchers at Oregon State University were well aware of the GreenZapr’s successful elimination of bacteria on synthetic turf and were curious as to the possibility of using the equipment on natural grass to eliminate Microdochium on golf courses without the need of pesticides.

The GreenZapr at Oregon State University
Testing UVC light at the Lewis-Brown Horticulture Farm

Curious ourselves, we delivered the GreenZapr to help them test the theory.

850 GreenZapr Ready for Testing
This is the area of study on the University of Oregon campus.

Clint Mattox and Alec Kowalewski lead tests with the GreenZapr for over 8 weeks on controlled plots at the OSU horticulture farm.

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The results? Well, trying to eliminate Microdochium using the GreenZapr didn’t exactly work like predicted or hoped. It seems the bulbs in the GreenZapr just weren’t quite strong enough. With stronger UVC bulbs, this is still a feasible solution. UVC is proven to kill fungi, so we will look toward the future of technology and try again when stronger UVC bulbs become available.

If you’d like to read more about UVC or the GreenZapr, the following articles contain more information:

Artificial Turf Manufacturers Need To Come Clean To Schools and Parks

American Ultraviolet and GreensGroomer Worldwide Work Together To Create GreenZapr and MiniZapr

Texas Leads The Nation in Synthetic Turf Football Fields

Oregon State University Emerges as a Leader in Turf Research and Innovation

Penn State has long been considered the leader in turf  and sports surface research, but Oregon State University has begun to creep into the rankings right alongside them. Oregon State has two big advantages. The first is Alec Kowalewski, an expert in turf with published research and both Masters degree and a Doctorate degree in Crop and Soil Sciences from the University of Michigan. The second advantage for the University of Oregon is the mild weather. Because Oregon has significantly less snow than Pennsylvania, researchers at Oregon State have a much longer period of reasonable weather for testing out their latest research. Stay tuned to the happening at the OSU Horticulture Department for the latest in turf research and innovation. Sports Turf NW will be happy to help further the research in the field and can’t wait for the next chance to experiment with just how versatile our synthetic turf maintenance equipment can be.