Bradford Telegraph and ArgusTips for gardeners from sports turf experts (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)

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Research body launches soil-test website for the green-fingered

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Ruth Mann Ruth Mann

Gardeners are being given access to expertise at a world-renowned research body which advises some of the world’s top sporting venues to help their patch bloom better.

Green-fingered enthusiasts are being given access to the science behind the pitches at the FIFA World Cup, the championship courts at Wimbledon and the greens and fairways of St Andrews following the launch of an innovative new soil-testing website by the Bingley-based Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI).

The leading turfgrass consultancy is offering gardeners expert opinion through the new STRI Soil Test website soil-test.org, which provides information on how to send in a soil sample and get a comprehensive report showing soil health, highlights problem areas and helps to assess the best course of action.

STRI is offering three types of laboratory tests which measure soil pH value, seven separate elements, including phosphorous and potassium, six different metals, such as zinc and lead as well as measuring the Cation Exchange Capacity value which shows how well the soil is holding nutrients. Gardeners can send their soil samples by free-post to STRI’s experts.

Samples will be analysed by scientists at STRI’s internationally-accredited laboratories at the St Ives estate, Harden, where tests for some of the world’s biggest sporting events are carried out, including soil analysis and turf research for the imminent 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, Wimbledon and The Open 2014 at Royal Liverpool Golf Club.

STRI points out that soil imbalances can reduce plant health and strength and leave them susceptible to damage from drought, disease and insects. Through testing and analysing the soil, gardeners can understand and improve soil conditions and ensure the best growing conditions for plants and flowers.

Ruth Mann, STRI head of research, said: “STRI is the world’s leading consultancy for the design, research and management of natural turf and as a leading authority in this field we offer effective solutions and independent advice to thousands of clients across the globe. Thanks to this new service we are now able to provide valuable and expert analysis to gardeners of all abilities and we can do this quickly, and accurately.

“A full understanding of the nutritional values of soil is essential so that healthy grass, flowers, plants, vegetables and fruit can be produced and grown. It is also vital to know the causes behind any sort of problems gardeners are facing, such as discolouration of grasses, yellowing of foliage or flowers drooping or dying. The STRI soil test and website allows gardeners of all abilities to gain valuable insight and information to ensure their soils are in prime condition.”

The website launch follows STRI’s appointment by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as turf consultant, providing advisory, research and event support during the First World War centenary commemorations.

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