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Optimising the Rootzone Environment

Step 1 for BioNutrition

20 minute test for microbial biomass

Healthy turfgrass surfaces depend on rootzones that contain the correct balance of physical, chemical and biological content, but how do we measure the microbial population of your rootzone? Results from sending samples to a laboratory can take up to two weeks and, in the meantime, the microbial biomass (MB) will have changed.


SouthWest Agronomy use the microBIOMETER®, a 20-minute on-site soil test to determine microbial biomass and fungal to bacterial (F:B) ratio. This lab grade soil test is simple to perform with rapid results. It’s faster, cheaper and more accurate than sending your soil to labs because microbes start dying once they are removed from the rootzone. The results are reported as µg of microbial carbon per gram of soil and fungal to bacterial ratio as F:B, %Fungi and %Bacteria, and can be used to chart the following:

  • The higher the microbial biomass, the more nutrients available, decreasing or

        eliminating the need for chemical fertilizers

  • If microbial biomass decreases after applying chemical fertilizer, you have used

        too much

  • Microbes, especially fungi, build soil structure which increases water

        percolation and drainage through the rootzone, with air entry through the surface

  • F:B ratio of rhizosome soil will tell you if arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF) have

        colonized your plant making it more resistant to drought and pests

  • An increase in the F:B ratio indicates the green manure you used is optimal.

  • Soil organic carbon is mainly the bodies of dead microbes, so if you are not increasing your microbes you are not building soil health or sequestering carbon (breaking down thatch)

  • A rapid increase in MB indicates the effectiveness of turf management treatments. 

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Results of inadequate turf management practices - saturated surfaces, Black Layer & disease


Plot trial showing effects of mycorrhizae (greener plots) on nutrient availability and plant health.

Beneficial microbes at work in a turf rootzone sample

Step 2 of BioNutrition

Nutrients that feed the Soil & Plant Biology

SouthWest Agronomy advise on fertiliser programmes to achieve desired outcomes, using nutrients that are harvested from sustainable resources and put Sustainable Turfgrass Management into practice.

Precision Guesswork has no place in high quaity turfgrass management!  We provide a quick, on-site assessment using a BRIX refractometer followed by a detailed analysis of rootzone nutrients. Our RZ Analysis supplies the information to ammend the rootzone to provide the grass plant with the best conditions for growth and vigour that help the turfgrass manager prepare high quality playing surfaces.

Many people think that science is exact, but the reality is that interpretation of multiple sources of data is the key to making successful outcomes. We carry out a comprehensive nutrient analysis that uses four different analytical methods and interpretations rather than being slaves to numbers or a particular method. We take a broad view of the nutrient content and match the results to the clients requirements.

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An example of our comprehensive nutrient analysis. 

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Step 3 of BioNutrition

Encourage the interaction between the rootzone and turfgrass plant roots

South West Agronomy, have spent many years investigating the interaction between rootzone microbes and the turfgrass plant root. One subject of study is the Rhizophagy Cycle in which microbes are "farmed" by plant roots, illustrated right:

  1. Microbes enter the plant root carrying nutrients from the soil

  2. Nutrients extracted from the microbes by Reactive Oxygen

  3. Nutrient exhausted microbes stimulate root hair growth and leave the root through the tips

  4. Microbes recharge with nutrients from the rootzone environment.


Giving the plant only soluble fertilisers results in plants not having to work for their nutrition, leading them to not produce root hairs and other processes vital for plant health and growth. Plant derived biostimulants increase root exudates leading to: increased control of plant pathogens; increase in nutrient availability and uptake by the roots; turfgrass plants able to withstand environmental stresses.


Some of the trials and measuring work carried out at the University of Nottingham for a Master of Research degree to assess the effects of plant extracts on turfgrass plants. Left: heat and shade stress. Middle left: measuring the rate of photosynthesis. Middle right: microbes around a turfgrass plant root. Right: a formulation designed to increase microbe populations in turfgrass rootzones.

Figure from Microorganisms 6 (3): 95. (2018).

Contact South West Agronomy to discuss the best solution for your turfgrass surfaces

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