SMX: a New Seaweed Product for Sports Turf

Seaweed extracts feature in many turf managers’ annual programs and looking at what’s currently available there are plenty of seaweed products you can choose from.

February 14, 2022
3 mins

Seaweed extracts feature in many turf managers’ annual programs and looking at what’s currently available there are plenty of seaweed products you can choose from. But what should turf professionals look for? Don’t all seaweed products do pretty much the same job? The simple answer to that question is no. There are distinctly different seaweed species, a number of methods and approaches for harvesting, collecting, and extracting seaweed’s beneficial components. Seaweed products are not all the same, so different products will produce very different responses in turf.

For any professional, it’s worth looking beyond the marketing hype. Weigh up the evidence from product trials that demonstrate how seaweed extract actually improves the condition of turf. Other important factors to look for are the percentage of active seaweed content in products, tank-mix compatibility, and, of course, value for money.

Why seaweed is beneficial for turf

Ascophyllum nodosum seaweed (rockweed) is a marine plant of the northern Atlantic Ocean and common on the northwestern coast of Europe, east Greenland, and the northeastern coast of North America. Growing in cold, clean intertidal zone conditions, this is a plant that can survive very demanding conditions. At high tide it is immersed in cold, salty water and at low tide it suffers dehydration and exposure in freezing temperatures—the very qualities that make seaweed effective and an ideal conditioning product for turf.

While there seems to be general agreement in the sports turf industry that applying a seaweed product can have a positive effect as a tonic, supporting evidence has been either anecdotal or based on crop trials rather than being tested on turf. Yet, recent independent trials on turf with a new seaweed extract have produced convincing results.


SMX: the latest seaweed innovation

ICL has recently developed SMX, a new, premium, water-soluble, and high-density Atlantic Ascophyllum nodosum seaweed powder. This is the latest innovation in the Sportsmaster WSF range and contains 75% active, high-quality, high-density seaweed extract, a significantly higher percentage compared to many seaweed products on the market. It is also, importantly, harvested from sustainable, renewable sources.


Research and trials

Independent trials showed that SMX helped the plant produce longer roots and a greater root mass, and improved the quality of growth (shoot weight) compared to competitor products or control conditions using no seaweed extract. Under drought conditions, the turf quality and color improved noticeably when treated with SMX and, when included in an annual nutritional program, turf quality remained significantly higher throughout the fall and in the lead-up to winter.

A quality seaweed extract for turf is a complicated product containing a range of plant-available micronutrients, amino acids, carbohydrates, and bioactive molecules. How these interact within the turf plant is also a complex process at a cellular level, and one that is slowly being uncovered through in-depth and focused research.


Dr. Andy Owen, ICL International Technical Manager, explains:

“The mode of action of seaweed extracts within the turfgrass system is fascinating. Undoubtedly seaweed extracts will modify the numbers, types, and activity of microbes in the rhizosphere and enhance interaction with roots. Certain seaweeds can generate a hormone response in the plant, and contain compounds that affect both the plasticity and elasticity of cells. This triggers the plant to respond and control water more efficiently through its stomata, which in turn improves root growth and plant vigor, which is probably why turf treated with seaweed extract is better able to resist stresses in periods of drought and extremes of weather.”

Formulated for use on golf course greens, tees, fairways, and sports fields, Sportsmaster WSF SMX is a water-soluble powder so is an ideal tank-mix partner for liquid and foliar nutrition, or to complement a granular fertilizer program. Independent tests show a low input rate of only 1 kg per hectare provides the most effective results, making SMX a perfect supplement to any turf nutritional program, providing cost-effective support and efficient conditioning for the plant to help combat the season’s stresses.