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Turf Grass: A Million Dollar Industry

Post by on Monday, August 2, 2021

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The turf grass and lawn care industry is growing rapidly due to huge demand in residential as well as in commercial sectors for environmental and aesthetic benefits. 
Growing demand for turf grasses for sports, landscape, commercial, residential, athletic facilities and home gardening has given a boost to the turf industry. Global turf  market is valued at $11,777.10 million in the year 2019 and is expected to grow at an annual growth rate  of 5.5% up to year  2023. Out of more than 255 golf courses in India, Delhi NCR  records 25, Gujarat 9, Chandigarh 6, Bangalore 8, Pune 8, Mumbai 7, Srinagar 3 and  boutique golf courses 30 in North Eastern India. The Royal Calcutta Golf Club was established in 1829. As far as international sports fields are concerned 50 stadiums exist in India whereas domestic sports stadiums  are around 520.This indicates the scope of turf grass industry in India at state  as well as national level.
According to data available in India, the turf grass industry occupies around 30,000 acres and some 400 acres are under commercial cultivation of high valued turf grasses. The rates for turf grasses varies from species to species ranging from Rs 20 per square feet to Rs 120 per square feet including establishing charges. This indicates that out of 500m2 one can earn around 1.5 lakhs profit.
Potential of turf industry
1)          Sports grounds
2)          Landscaping of highways
3)          Landscaping of offices
4)          Landscaping of public parks
5)          Landscaping of private parks
6)      Landscaping of schools and other educational institutions
7)          Landscaping of airports
8)          Landscaping of railway stations
9)          Landscaping of Hydroelectric projects
Selection of grasses for Lawns:
Cool season grasses start growth at 5 C0 and optimum  temperatures for proper growth and development is  between 10 0C  and 25 0C. They retain their color in extreme cold, grow densely and retain greenery for 12 months.
•       Bluegrass (Poa sp.)
•       Bent grass (Agrostis sp.)
•       Rye grass (Lolium sp.)
•       Fescues (Festuca sp., cultivars and hybrids)
•       Tufted hair grass (Deschampsia sp.)
Optimum temperatures for proper growth and development is  between 25 0C  and 35 0C. These often go dormant in cool seasons.
•       Zoysia grass (Zoysia sp.)
•       Bermuda grass (Cynodon sp.)
•       Bahia grass (Paspalum)
•       Centipede grass (Eremachloa)
•       Buffalo grass  
                                  Hardy to even 450C
Grama grass               
        Methods of raising Turf Grasses
In this method about 30 kg of seed is required to plant one hectare. Soil should be finely tilled and a light rolling is given and  divided into small fragments. Seeds are mixed with double the quantity of finely sieved sand and vermicompost and to be rolled again followed by sufficiently watered for 4 to 5 weeks. Germination of seeds takes place in four to five weeks. Rate per kg of seeds ranges from 4 thousand to 15 thousand and this is the cheapest method of raising turf grass.
Patches of earth with compact grasses on them are cut from  a place where grasses are short.Site is prepared for turf placement. Soil finely leveled and tilled followed by  filling  the gaps in between so that root formation is favored and extra water gets absorbed. This  method is a ready made lawn system but it costs Rs 1.5 to 4.00 lakhs per 500 m2 depending upon a particular grass species.
Grass is procured,5-7cm bits chopped properly and garden soil is mixed with twice the quantity of chopped grass followed by leveling and proper wetting of site.This mixture is spread to a thickness of at least 2.5 cm and watered again. Rolling is done the next day and  shoots appear in two to three weeks.
This is slow but one of the cheapest methods. Ground is leveled and when the ground is wet small pieces of grass roots are dibbled 10-15 cm in lines or channels made across the lawn. In about six months the grass grows underground and roots spread. The lawn is then frequently mown, rolled and watered in order to make a compact lawn.Proper weeding should be done and gaps should be filled with soil and grass roots.
It means a synthetic turf that is commonly used in roof gardens and playgrounds in developed countries. Main advantage of this type of lawn is that it does  not require maintenance operations used for natural grasses. It is easy to manage and hence time saving. It needs constant sprinkling of water in order to bind the fibers to provide a carpet like look. First generation synthetic turfs were made of nylon. The second generation turfs were made of polypropylene. Fibers are longer than 55mm and  first generation synthetic soccer field was installed in the Netherlands in 1996.
It is the use of sprigs and cut stolons or rhizomes in a slurry of fertilizers, mulch and  binding agent and sprayed with a hose over a target area. This can be effective in areas susceptible to erosion , hillsides , slopes of varying steepness or in diversion canals.
1.  Prepare a plan by measuring the area which will help to  determine the quantity seed or dibbles or turf pieces ,manures and  fertilizer required.
2.  Soil testing to be ensured.
3.  Weeds should be controlled by first weeding, using pre and post emergence  herbicides before planting operation.
4.  Physical injury to soil should be taken care of and working on wet soil to be avoided.
5.  Raking, leveling and removing debris before planting.
        Water in the early morning or midday is good practice but in the evening  but this may encourage disease development. Sprinkler or drip irrigation can be adopted for larger areas and sufficient amount of moisture should be ensured at  entire root zone
         Tulip grass requires at least 16 nutrients for normal growth and development. Some nutrients are needed in large amounts, other nutrients only in minute quantities. Nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium are important among major elements and  micro nutrients iron ,manganese ,boron, zinc, copper, molybdenum, & chlorine are required only in minute amounts.
Organic fertilizers release nutrients more effectively when soils are warm & moist. Compost manure like well rotten FYM and Vermicompost are important as it Strengthens root system, Increases shoot density, improves physical properties of soil and increases stress tolerance.
Mechanical aeration provides an excellent means of correcting soil compaction which may be quite serious on many lawn areas. Aerating machines remove plugs from the turf area there by creating an artificial system of large or non capillary pores by which moisture and plant nutrients can be taken into the soil. They also provide a breathing system through which carbon dioxide can escape & oxygen enter into the soil. Springs are the best time to aerate.                                                                                                                                                                                 
   Rolling a new lawn after seeding  or  after sodding is very important. Established lawns can be   rolled during spring when grass is  just coming  out  of dormancy & the roots are in active growth . 
Type Ist  inhibitors are primarily absorbed through the foliage and  interfere in vegetative growth & seed head development whereas Type 2nd are generally root absorbed & suppress growth through interference of gibberellic acid , a hormone responsible for cell elongation. This helps in reducing the mowing operations.
            The height at which a given perennial grass can be cut & still survive for extended periods is directly related to its ability  to produce enough leaf surface and it varies from species to species. But the first  three  mowing should be done at a higher level so that roots are not disturbed. Frequency of mowing is also an important consideration in the maintenance program. Removal of larger grass will result in a physiological shock to the plants , causing excessive graying or browning of the leaf tips so careful mowing is prerequisite whether done by Electric cordless rotary mowers or Reel mowers.
1. Adding organic matter.
2. Use mulches.
3. Aerate lawn
5. Avoid compactness of  soils.  
          Weeds are the plants out of their place .A plant may be desirable in one situation & a weed in another e.g  creeping bent grass plants can invade  a Kentucky blue grass lawn & cause unsightly patches.
The cultural control may include raising or lowering the mowing heights , changing the frequency of mowing  , lengthening or shortening the periods between irrigation, increasing or decreasing the application of fertilizers , hand pulling, hand raking. A combination of proper cultural practices  plus prudent use of chemicals is sometimes necessary to control weeds.
                    Pre-emergence  herbicides affect germinating seeds. To be effective , the herbicides should be applied 2-3 weeks before weed seed germination . Consequently , pre emergence herbicides are most effective against annual weeds
                    These are used to kill weeds after the weed plants are up & growing. To be effective, most post-emergence herbicides must be absorbed through the leaves , consequently , liquid sprays generally work better than dry , granular materials. Application spring (May- June), (Aug- Oct) e,g  2,4-D, Round-UP.
Major problem in most of the lawns which can be observed by devastation of grass. Use of insecticides like chlorpyriphos is recommended to control.
Rust ,red thread, fairy ring ,gray leaf spot and brown patch  are the diseases associated with turf grasses which can be controlled through use of  suitable fungicides.

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