Thatch is an organic layer comprising of both dead and living shoots, stems and roots that form because the plant can produce this layer faster than it can be broken down naturally. It becomes a spongy, thick fibrous layer. Although a small layer of thatch has some benefits, if left to build up excessively it can soon lead to some serious issues.
Extensive shallow root development can occur within heavy thatch layers and if warm temperatures or drought was to occur it could soon lead to plant wilt and stress. Equally thatch layers can hold excessive water within its profile which can reduce the amount of oxygen reaching the plants root system. This layer can also harbour insects and disease-causing organisms which could also lead to further problems.
To minimise the thatch build up it is vital to have a program in place to control the thatch levels. Use fertiliser and water adequately enough to maintain density, colour and growth without causing rapid growth and excessive build up. Although these methods will aid the control of thatch it will need to be controlled with practices such as hollow coring and verti-cutting. Hollow coring helps to relieve compaction and allow air movement in the profile promoting microbial activity, thus aiding a faster breakdown of the thatch layer. Both of these practices both physically remove thatch and with regular maintenance can control thatch levels effectively.
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