How does the RotoKnife work.
Most sports turf managers suffer the effects of ‘black layer’ and/or ‘thatch’ at some point in time. It is customary to feel the need to take action to remove these from the effected areas. Imants takes a more progressive view and has now proven techniques of reducing both thatch and black layer without the damage and cost of alternative procedures.
This is simply the build-up of organic matter in the upper levels of the rootzone. The thatch is an accumulation of dead plants, damaged tillers, grass clippings, root and wind blown organic matter which has achieved a state of preservation.
In simple terms thatch is sometimes deliberately produced. Farmers often grow grass, cut it, dry it and call it ‘hay’. Others cut it and keep it wet and call it ‘silage’, therefore any plant matter being rapidly produced and kept too wet for long periods or too dry for long periods will tend to build an organic layer as a result.
Thatch build-up starts with a single piece of ‘plant’ which falls to the ground. Immediately the matter touches it creates a difference to the ground directly below it. A mini climate now exists below the matter which can be either cooler or warmer than above it. Also there is a trap for moisture trying to leave the soil or trying to land. The gasses are different both in the soil and immediately above the matter especially if there is a dense population of plants surrounding the matter. All these factors signal a difference in the area of the matter, which changes the conditions in which the local residents such as the bacteria, worms, fungi etc live. In some cases they are excited into action and in others completely switched-off. If another piece of waste plant matter should arrive things change yet again and eventually he matter forms a layer which is an effective barrier to both water and air. Furthermore, the chances of matter, which falls on other matter, meeting the soil and its inhabitants, gets less with every layer. The situation eventually arises that there is now no way the matter can break down without some significant disturbance to the layer.
The layer itself tends to be dry on the surface and damp underneath creating a situation of the top part hay and the lower part silage. In direct sun the thatch can heat severely creating conditions which will severely threaten the grass surrounding it. It can and will provide good conditions for fungus development with thatch fungus, fairy rings and a variety of diseases flourishing. This same layer can turn from a dry surface to a wet slimy surface, particularly in the autumn as slime moulds and algae form on the mat. This creates a near perfect gas seal at the surface which suffocates roots. This leads to a reduction in plant vigour causing a reduction in growth and some yellowing. In this situation the plant becomes prone to disease and if there is new seed about, damping-off will occur, with a near total kill-out.
It is not necessary to remove thatch as it can be simply broken down where it lies. By constantly slitting with the appropriate machine (RotoKnife) the integrity of the thatch is compromised, allowing air and water to pass through. At the same time, the slitting disc inoculates the thatch layer with a smear of soil from the lower levels. This soil contains the basic ingredients for the organic destruction of the thatch. Therefore, constant regular slitting with discs, will completely breakdown thatch without any need for removal, providing the basic drainage needs of the soil is satisfactory.
Conventional soil aeration makes a fundamental mistake of being too localised in action. Hollow coring is local, vertidraining is local, conventional slitting is local, solid tining is also local. These functions only effect the area immediately around the tine whereas the effect of both the earthquake and RotoKnife is to install inter-communicating pathways through the rootzone linking all areas of the rootzone together. This allows the transfer of air and water to work at the optimum throughout the whole rootzone and allowing the uniform spread of the organic agents which can positively promote the healthy development of all the plants occupying the soil treated.
It is best to control thatch with an ongoing thatch control policy than it is to try and remove thatch.
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