The turf industry is continually evolving with exciting developments in turf research and breeding, along with rapid developments in production technology.
This is great news for consumers with greater flexibility in purchasing and availability, along with the significant benefits of brand-new turf varieties with superior characteristics to those that have come before.
Lawn Solutions Australia (LSA) is leading the charge in Australia and is continually building exclusive partnerships with turf related organisations right across the world. It is through these partnerships that LSA have been able to bring to consumers scientifically exceptional turf varieties like Sir Grange and TifTuf.
Every year LSA team members travel the world researching and analysing newly developed turf practices and breeding techniques and bring this information back home for application to Australian conditions. This work is completed at the Lawn Solutions Australia Research and Development Facility – the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.
What does the future of turf look like in Australia?
There are a lot of impressive things going on right across the world, with particular advancements in turf breeding in the USA, along with industry leading turf production in the UK. LSA has seen this for themselves and there are some exciting developments that may be seen in Australia in the very near future and some of which have already been implemented.
Turf Research and Breeding
Lawn Solutions Australia currently has the largest privately operated Turfgrass R&D facility in Australia, with over 180 different turf varieties under assessment.
Access to the latest turfgrasses in the world is made possible through our exclusive partnerships with researchers, plant breeders and Universities in the United States. Texas A&M, Georgia State – Tifton, The Turfgrass Group, Bladerunner Farms, Dr Brian Schwartz to name a few. Our international relationships are approached long-term and are imperative to the future pipeline of new turfgrass varieties.
Sir Grange Zoysia for example was developed by Texas-based Bladerunner Farms (under the name Zeon Zoysia) who have the largest privately owned zoysia grass research facility in the world.
Two of the biggest projects in the world of golf have chosen to use Sir Grange:
Another example, TifTuf Hybrid Bermuda, is the product of almost 25 years of research and development from one of the world’s leading turf grass breeders, the University of Georgia.
TifTuf was hand selected out of almost 30,000 different Bermuda varieties.
With incredible turf varieties like this coming out of these research facilities, the possibility of new superior turf varieties in the near future is very exciting.
Turf Harvesting and Robotics
Methods for harvesting turf have continually evolved over the years and it is nowhere near the backbreaking work it once was. Automatic harvesters have become the norm in the turf industry and have massively increased efficiencies for growers. These machines are laser guided and utilise robotics to cut, roll and then stack turf on a pallet. These pallets are then dropped off the machine when full and another pallet is placed into position.
Rolawn in the UK is the most futuristic and advanced turf farm found anywhere in the world. The incredible thing about Rolawn is that most of their high-tech equipment is designed and built by the team on sight for their exclusive use.
Rolawn utilise what they call the Pro-Fresh shed, this is a 2-acre cool room, the size of a footy field! Rolawn sells 8 million square metres of turf a year and it all goes in this shed. Turf is loaded 24 pallets at a time into a large pressure vessel, then enters the shed where all the air and gases are sucked out of the pallets of turf. Then cold air and gas is pumped back into the core of the pallet. This reduces the core temperature of the pallet down to 3 degrees Celsius, which immediately brings on dormancy stopping the moisture production of the plant. This increases the shelf life of the turf from 3 days to 7. The facility can treat 2,800m2 of turf every 12 minutes.
The Rolawn Turf Factory is probably the most impressive part of the Rolawn facility, so new and impressive in fact that anyone who visits is not allowed to take photos. Rolawn have built their own state of the art big roll turf harvesters that can cut 200m2 rolls of turf in 4 minutes, these are then loaded onto the truck and taken to the turf factory. This process only requires 2 workers in the turf paddock, rather than multiple harvesters and additional workers that are commonly needed.
When the turf rolls arrive at the factory, they are fed onto a large unrolling production line, speeding along the belt to pass through a final inspection by a series of cameras. These cameras can identify weeds and faults and if required a high-tech mower can adjust the height of the turf. At this point in the process, they can apply colourants and other products as required. A digital bar code is then applied, before it can then be cut into any size roll or slab required. The turf is then sent to the Pro-Fresh Factory for cooling. It is then stacked by a robot onto a pallet, wrapped and labelled and sent on a conveyor belt to the cool room. This machine can process 4000m2 an hour, 24 hours a day – 7 days a week, rain hail or shine.
By now most of us have seen robot vacuums and even robot lawn mowers, but did you know this technology is being introduced on a much larger scale for turf producers?
Whilst the level of automation is currently limited to manned vehicles, turf growers will very soon have the ability to create maps of their paddocks and assign an unmanned robot mower to the paddock with a simple click of a mouse.
The purpose-built software will instinctively create the most efficient route for optimal area coverage of every paddock. The software will communicate with and control each machine, managing its speed, direction, turning radius, obstacle detection, braking and blade height.
The Australian lawn has become an icon in the Australian landscape. Lawn Solutions Australia (LSA) is ensuring that Australians are provided with the most beautiful and low maintenance turf varieties in the country, developed over decades of rigorous scientific testing.
To showcase these turf varieties, in an industry first sponsorship, LSA has proudly embraced the role of presenting partner to the largest and most prestigious horticultural event in the Southern Hemisphere – The Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show.
Well and truly putting the great Australian Lawn back on its pedestal as the centrepiece of all great Aussie backyards!
The Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show is the place where the best of the best strut their stuff and Lawn Solutions Australia, as the leading organisation in the Australian Turf industry is extremely excited to be a part of it.