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Thinner cut turf makes for healthier lawns says STRI research

Independent research by the Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI) has underlined the credentials of younger thinner cut turf for its ability to root more quickly and vigorously than the traditional older thicker cut product, allowing faster establishment and a healthier and more attractive lawn.


The research comprised two trials conducted at STRI headquarters in Bingley, West Yorkshire, in Autumn 2017. The outdoor field trial saw the laying of both younger thinner cut Rolawn Medallion turf and older thicker cut Medallion turf side by side for 50 days. After just 20 days the younger thinner cut turf showed deeper, denser and more vigorous rooting compared to the older cut turf. Surface appearance was also better throughout the trial, with its NDVI (Normalised Difference Vegetation Index) score - a measure of turf health and quality - consistently higher throughout the 50 days of being laid.


STRI Research Manager Dr Tom Young commented "initial visual appearance of the younger thinner turf was superior to the older turf, with this effect lasting at least 20 days after laying. Furthermore, in the outdoor trial rooting in the younger turf plots was more vigorous and dense compared to the older turf".


The second trial went on to further confirm the notion of quicker, denser root growth for younger thinner cut turf. Samples of both were put side by side in the STRI's rhizotron, a controlled environmental chamber, to view root growth over time under LED lights. Almost immediately the younger thinner cut turf rooted more quickly and densely and continued to do so consistently throughout the two-week trial. 


The unanimous findings of both STRI trials are also reinforced by several pieces of research going back as far as the sixties, which showed that younger thinner turf displays better rooting capabilities, and that young roots are more likely to regrow after harvesting.


As the UK's leading producer of high quality cultivated grass turf, with sales of over 165 million rolls in its more than 40-year history, Rolawn now has scientific evidence to prove that focusing on a younger thinner cut turf, which is technically superior because of accelerated root establishment, is the future. This enables the turf to have increased adaptability with greater suitability for the wide range of growing conditions found across the UK.


The move to the younger thinner product was prompted by the company's constant consideration for the elements that influence the market. These include the steady withdrawal of certain approved herbicides, pesticides, insecticides and fungicides, the amplified extremes in weather patterns impacting both turf cultivation and the stress put on lawns; the need for customers to have technically superior product and increased consideration for our environment and our impact upon it.


The research results can be seen in a time-lapse video produced by the STRI  the Rolawn website or YouTube channel.

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