Saturday, December 30, 2006

Empire zoysia can look great

Empire zoysia turf sod can be used to create a fantastic impression at a new house. The photos say it all........ with the before and after appearance!

After is........well, two months after..... the turf was laid.

This is in a new surburban development in Darwin, and has not had any setbacks since the turf was laid. A sand profile, modified with cocopeat was used as the "soil", over the very poor subsoil base seen above on the left..

Modified sand has both advantages and disadvantages, with the major disadvantage being that initially, it is absolutely devoid of any nutrients, and also has little to allow nutrients to cling to and avoid being flushed through. The addition of cocopeat helps that issue and also provides additional moisture storage. But the advantages far outweigh all those isuses, which are easily controlled.

The big advantage is that almost always, sand is free of use a clean turf and it will stay that way! As well, over time, sand does not compact. That usually means that there will not be root development problems, dry spots, hard bare areas etc. Sand is also very porous, allows rapid infiltration of moisture, holds quite a lot of water in the profile, and over time as roots develop, moisture capacity will improve too, due to the organic matter from roots and decaying plant leaves.

Too often so called topsoil available for purchase contains a lot of fine silt and clay particles. These settle, clump together and the profile is very hard, resistant to the entry of moisture and of low water capacity. Sand will be a better option for the growth of a great turf. Especially all of the zoysia varieties.........sand is the best option!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

NT Now Has Top Quality Fertiliser and Plant Nutrition Support

Agsafe the national registered training organisation for rural industries has recently issued a Fertcare Level C certificate to Mr Peter Harrison of Above Capricorn Technologies, Darwin following his successful completion of the training program and exams for this course.

The Fertcare program is designed to lift the skills and knowledge of all individuals involved in the supply and distribution of fertilizers and to assist in optimising environmental stewardship, occupational health and safety, food safety and agricultural profitability.

Mr Harrison’s training was specifically designed to meet the needs of agricultural advisors and crop and pasture nutrition advisers and consultants who are providing detailed plant nutrition advice based on soil and plant testing to the agricultural and horticultural industries

Using the latest adult learning methods, the Fertcare training received by Peter Harrison delivered leading-edge information, support and practical advice to improve professional competencies for advisors and covers detailed and complex knowledge of:
environmental issues, particularly in relation to fertilisers and fertiliser management;
fertiliser environmental stewardship review methodology (FESR);
food safety issues;
soil and tissue sampling;
the regulatory framework and label requirements; and
an awareness of OH&S and stewardship issues in transport, storage, handling and application of fertilisers.

Fertcare training is underpinned by eco-efficiency principles and informs participants on the proper use of fertilisers and soil ameliorant products to achieve optimum agricultural production together with effective practices for improved environmental outcomes.

The formal training is used together with the assessment and recognition of prior competency which includes the assessment of competency in;
soil, nutrient and fertiliser knowledge; and
systematic development of interpretation and
recommendations based on sound science.

The Fertcare Accreditation Level C is seen as a basic requirement for qualified professionals that provide professional advice and support in plant nutrition and fertiliser use in the rural industries across rural Australia, and has been a sought after qualification in other jurisdictions around Australia. Ask your fertiliser supplier or advisor – are you qualified?

Peter Harrison from Above Capricorn Technologies provides independent advice and can assist in developing a sound program for crops on your property. Contact him by phone 89481894 or e-mail to - .

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Compadre zoysia - the new name for zoysia, variety Companion

The holder of the PVR for Companion zoysia has changed the variety name for this outstanding seed sown zoysia line. The material will now be called cv Compadre.

Same stuff, new name........same great turf.

The variety has done very well in tropical Australia, and is also used in the SW and SE of the US as well in many other tropical areas - Asia and especially S America.

Just remember............Compadre...........your close friend, a great companion lawn on your property!


Patten Seed Company's hybrid zoysiagrass 'Companion' renamed 'Compadre'
Lakeland, GeorgiaJuly 21, 2006
What once was your “Companion” zoysiagrass lawn just became your “Compadre™” lawn. Patten Seed Company, owners of the brand, has announced that the improved hybrid zoysiagrass formerly known as “Companion,” will henceforth be known as Compadre in all marketing and product descriptions.

“Recent investigation by our trademark attorneys revealed that the name ‘Companion’ had been used in commerce prior to our use. That made it necessary for us to change the name,” explained Ben Copeland, president of Patten Seed Company. “We believe ‘Compadre’ keeps the same general meaning and reflects the intent the breeder of this selection. ‘Compadre’ is a variety that was intended to be paired with a cool season grass like tall fescue to create a year round green lawn”

Compadre is a two parent cross of Zoysia japonica selections made by the late Jack Murray at the USDA turfgrass station in Beltsville, MD. It is similar to Meyer zoysia (also a Zoysia japonica) in color, texture and density.

Seed Research of Oregon has been successfully marketing Companion zoysiagrass around the world on an exclusive basis since 2000. The company will continue to market Compadre and to build on the momentum Companion sales have enjoyed worldwide.

According to Copeland, Compadre is ideal for use on golf courses, residential and commercial landscapes, roadsides and other sites that require low maintenance. It will flourish from the northern transition zone of the US south and in similar climates around the world.

“Compadre is a rugged performer, making it one of the more environmentally friendly turf grasses because it requires fewer pesticide applications as well as less water and nutrition than cool season grasses grown in the same climates,” added Copeland.

Peter H

A great zoysia turf by seed?.........YES you can!

Most zoysia lawns are laid with turf sod or sometimes by sprigging or plugs. It can be expensive, and even with plugs, a bit slow. Yes, full turfing gives you an instant lawn , but it still needs a few weeks to develop roots and tie itself into the soil. Many people are put off by the cost, and full turfing is relatively expensive.

There is another option........use seed! Yes.....the excellent zoysia turf variety Compadre is a seeded type that can be sown, as seed. Saves money, and can give you lawn cover in about 12 - 14 weeks. There have now been a few areas sown in the Darwin region and they look great. The photos tell a good story.............

The turf is slow to germinate and establish, and it is VERY important that adequate water is provided in the first few weeks.........and not to excess.

We recommend use of low volume sprinklers eg Challenger Mk2 low pressure sprinklers that deliver a few mm per hour. They are inexpensive and can be set up on a low cost 12 mm pvc line that can then be used as drip line in the garden. Or......use a soaker hose. In hot weather, you might even need to run the system for 6-8 hours per day in the first 2-3 weeks, or use a timer in bursts of 1 hour every two hours, to keep the surface moist. After the first 3 weeks, irrigation can be reduced, but keep the new area moist to about 100mm.

After establishment, the turf needs about one half of daily evaporation, say 3-4 mm per day in 2-3 deep irrigations per week, less in the cooler months.

Using Compadre seed will give a great lawn, that will pay off in less mowing, less fertiliser needs and a beautiful appearance.....and it is shade tolerant too.

Call us for more information and your source of seed.

Peter H

Monday, November 27, 2006

Recycling - myth and reality

As part of our work we often see material on recycling and resource recovery. Planet Ark have recently released a report that tries to show the truth about these issues.

Visit the following site and look for the report: "Recycling Myths: Sorting Fact from Fiction"

Peter H

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Is carpet grass a weed in your lawn?

Often carpet grass is used as a turf - it is well suited to shaded areas, for example. But more commonly, it appears as a weed in high quality turf areas where removal can be difficult.

Nominally, MSMA and DSMA are used for many grasses as post emergence herbicides. But with carpet grass, it seems as if there is relatively little effect, as it quickly regrows from rhizomes. It is worse in the warmer regions as carpet grass can grow quite quickly, even after spraying.

What is your experience? Is there a reasonable solution that can provide cost effective control of both narrow and broad leaved carpet grass?

Comments welcome.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Typical lawn grub damage

The damage was done quickly and very decisively - lawn grubs can do this level of damage in a few days.

The area is now recovering, albeit slowly!

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Improve your turf

Using compost is a great way to help your lawn. It adds organic matter, is suitable for fixing minor imperfections in levels, greatly enhances soil microbiological activity which may reduce plant diseases, and even sequestrates carbon [ and that is being VERY environmentally friendly] and usually the organics come from locally recycled materials. Probably the most important attribute is that the organic mater added to the turf can reduce the need for bag fertiliser, and improve water holding capacity thus reducing water use.

Current evaporation in Darwin is 7 - 10mm per day [November] so storing any rain that falls to reduce that evaporation alone is a great benefit.

Important - do not add too much at once, 5-7 mm is enough, and level it out with a rake and leveller, water into the surface. Use fine screened compost, not the coarse mulch!!

And remember........keeping the lawn slightly longer and allowing it to dry out before re-irrigating will improve water use efficiency during this pre wet season. That applies to ANY lawn.

Your correspondent at work delving the mysteries of science.

Turf Damage in the Pre -wet Season!

Recently we installed a new turf area using Empire zoysia. This is a very good turf, well suited to tropical Australia.

All the normal agronomic practices were carried out and the turf laid, fertiliser added, and all went well for about 4 weeks. Then disaster..........the client freaked out, and when we saw it we did too........The culprit? Army worm and sod web worm damage, and was it massive. Over half the area - 40sq m - seriously damaged in less than a week.

However, a quick investigation found the little grubs, and there were a lot!!!!! Spraying had to be done, to institute rapid control, and yes it all did work out, with the lawn now, a week later, showing good recovery.

It is a while since the damage caused was so great on any area we manage - switching to slow release nitrogen fertiliser is a prudent move to help manage this problem. All our clients have this practice recommended as part of our management protocols supplied with a new turf area. But in this case, readily available nitrogen was used, as part of the starter fertiliser NPK mix. And it seems as if it was part of the problem.

Moral - take care of the turf NOW when lawn grubs can be present; and act quickly to spray them with a suitable insecticide - and remember too with lawn grubs, it is best to spray in the evening when they are active.

This photo was what it looked like before the lawngrubs invaded.

Who we are and what we do

Above Capricorn Technologies
Agricultural & Environmental Consultants
ABN 73 215 304 514
PO Box 736 Nightcliff NT 0814 Australia
Telephone: 61 8 8948 1894 Facsimile: 61 8 8948 3894

Products and Services

· General agricultural and environmental consulting services; crop, seed and pasture agronomy services, agricultural management software / training/ support services and agricultural investment analysis
· Land management – land surface management including stormwater, range management, pastoral land development, weed management and control systems and plans, pasture / livestock / crop management
· Irrigation, water and soil moisture management systems
· Tropical turf development, agronomy and management – sporting ovals, recreational areas, golf courses, sports turf
· Organic waste management and compost production, effluent / biosolids management/ reuse, waste and wastewater management systems and services
· Erosion management and rehabilitation, sediment planning and control
· Soil and water bioengineering, including vetiver grass services / management
· Mine site and disturbed land revegetation and rehabilitation
· Contaminated land assessment and rehabilitation, bioremediation and phytoremediation
· Seed supply [incl native spp], production and technology, seed industry development
· Agricultural development and planning in the tropics

Operating since 1994, we are a Darwin based, growing enterprise focussing on agricultural, turf and environmental related opportunities in the tropics. Recent business includes a US$5m agriculture, turf and land development project in China, a recently completed phase of revegetation and land rehabilitation at a major new mine in Indonesia [for a US company, value >US$1m]. Both of these have been in conjunction with another small Australian company. Existing consultancy activities in the mining and agricultural sectors in the Philippines and Laos, and ongoing agricultural R & D in Thailand. Other recent projects have been bioremediation of pesticides in Kakadu National Park; water and waste management on Australia's offshore islands; greenwaste and organic resource management for compost and as a biomass fuel; crop production R & D.

Activities focus on R & D and consulting in agriculture, horticulture [tropical fruits, dates, grapes], livestock production, turf [including sports turf and golf course development, agronomy and management], soil and water bioengineering, effluent and biosolids management and reuse [particularly for agriculture / horticulture], bioremediation and phytoremediation, organic waste management and composting, erosion control, revegetation and landscape rehabilitation, land management, plant materials utilisation and development incl plant variety registration, seed science and seed industry development, seed production, irrigation. We can also supply innovative technology and products for these sectors including a range of erosion and sediment control products, advanced wastewater and stormwater systems, soil moisture measurement equipment, agrochemicals and turf management products, waste handling [incl medical] and compost systems.

The company has a strong science base and focuses on a holistic approach to problem solving. Our operational focus is northern Australia in both wet and arid areas, and into tropical regions of Africa, Asia and South America. We hold professional indemnity insurance. We have strong alliances with a number of other medium sized operators within Australia.

Registered professional member, Australian Institute of Agricultural Science and Technology
Certified Professional Agriculturist
Member International Erosion Control Association
Certified Professional in Erosion and Sediment Control [pending]

Contact: Peter G Harrison CPAg BScAgr MAIAST MIECA