At Plater Bio we manufacture two products which are designed to improve the rate at which organic matter is broken down in the soil; Stubble Digester focuses on arable crops, and Thatch Degrader for sports and amenity turf.
Both products utilize the same intrinsic technology, which we know from our previous laboratory trials to be potent stimulators of saprotrophic fungi. These are the fungi that live in soil and feed off dead plant material. As such, both products would be useful in growing systems where the build-up of organic matter is a challenge. This includes no-till farming where crop residues remaining from the previous season interfere with sowing the next, and fine turf where the over-use of iron sulphate harms soil microbes and leads to the build-up of a ‘thatch’ composed of dead grass blades. This thatch not only looks unsightly, it also impedes water movement and air flow.
Following on from the promising laboratory trials, it was decided to check that these products actually work in the real world! A solution of Thatch Degrader was applied to the right-hand side of a lawn earlier this spring and a water only treatment was applied to the left-hand side as a control. There were no immediate noticeable results but as time passed a large population of common fieldcap (Agrocybe pediades) fruiting bodies appeared on the treated side (see figure below). None of these mushrooms were present on the untreated side. This clearly shows that the activity of the fungi breaking down organic matter is far higher on the treated side.
While this result represents the findings of just one field trial, it certainly gives promise for future trials and treatments; especially as this is one of the most dramatic and visual results of any trial on turf grass I have ever seen.
In the past I have run trials of other microbial products sold for degrading thatch that purport to contain microbial spores/propagules of saprotrophic fungi, however, I never found any improvement in thatch levels or observed any noticeable difference between treated and untreated turf. So the fact that Thatch Degrader has shown real demonstrable effects is really exciting.
If you would like to know more about Thatch Degrader or any other aspect of this trial please get in contact.