Alleviating Turfgrass Stress with ICL’s New VitalNova Range

Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Formulated for use on golf course greens, tees, fairways and sports fields, ICL says its Vitalnova range is ideal for foliar feeding, or as a general part of an integrated turf nutritional programme to support a healthy rootzone and a healthy plant.

“It is a perfect tank mix partner for growth regulator and other liquid and water-soluble products. Recent trialling of the Vitalnova range under Australian conditions proved that Vitalnova Stressbuster assists turfgrass through periods of extended heat stress,” said a spokesperson for ICL.

A healthy turfgrass surface needs nitrogen. Nitrogen has a range of essential functions within the grass plant and is the key element involved in plant growth and metabolism.

Trial at Lake Karrinyup Country Club showing the improvement in turf colour in plots treated with Vitalnova Stressbuster.

It is the largest nutritional component of a turfgrass fertiliser plan. Therefore, it is very important that the turf manager effectively utilises nitrogen within their annual programme as this can save money.

The turfgrass plant can take up nitrogen as nitrate, ammonium or urea via roots and plant leaves. In addition, ‘N’ in the form of amino acids can also be utilised via the roots and shoots. The availability of a well formulated liquid fertiliser supplemented with plant available amino acids adds to the range of ‘N’ fertiliser options available to the progressive turf manager.

Amino acids are characterised as molecules containing the NH2 group linked to the COOH chemical group. Grass plants convert a proportion of all their ‘N’ into amino acids that then support the formation of complex compounds such as proteins, chlorophyll, enzymes and hormones. So amino acids provide an essential component of plant metabolism.

If applied to a well aerated soil, amino acid fertiliser would be utilised by the soil micro-organisms, stimulating organic matter breakdown and release of nitrogen. The amino acid component of the fertiliser indirectly feeds the plant by promoting soil biology metabolism. This will encourage a healthy well balanced rootzone.

When applied as a foliar feed, the amino acid component can be directly taken up by the plant, supplementing any other nitrogen the plant can access. There is clear independent scientific evidence that a well formulated amino acid liquid – applied as a foliar feed – can improve turf quality under conditions of plant stress (Zhang, et al, 2013). For these reasons, amino acid technology was used in the formulation of Vitalnova Stressbuster.

Trial at Metropolitan Golf Club showing an improvement in turf colour in plots treated with Vitalnova Stressbuster.

ICL, a Full Business Member of the Asian Golf Industry Federation, recently completed its 2018-19 field trials at Perth’s Lake Karrinyup Country Club and Melbourne’s Metropolitan Golf Club.

A range of wetting agents and ICL’s Vitalnova range of bio-stimulants were tested on Bentgrass greens subject to hot summer conditions. At both sites, Vitalnova Stressbuster significantly improved turf colour and condition. Its effect was greatest in the hottest summer months when Bentgrass is subject to the greatest periods of heat stress.

Vitalnova Stressbuster is a proprietary blend of amino acids, macro and micro-nutrients and was developed by ICL in the United Kingdom to help turf better deal with stressful environmental conditions.

Vitalnova Stressbuster was initially proven to be effective at maintaining colour and density on Bentgrass greens under cold conditions coupled with extended periods of low-light.

In 2018-19 the trial programme was extended to investigate effects on turf resilience under heat stress. Replicated trials were established in Australia to test the Vitalnova range of bio-stimulants and H2Pro wetting agents on cool-season Bentgrass greens under hot summer conditions.

Further trials have since been established on other turfgrass varieties used in sportsfields and golf courses in Japan and Southeast Asia.

The trial at Lake Karrinyup Country Club was independently managed by Sports Turf Technology and ran from October 2018 to April 2019. Each plot was assessed for uniformity prior to the first application and Vitalnova Stressbuster was applied monthly by foliar spray application at 50L/ha.

Turf colour was measured using the FieldScout GreenIndex+ Turf app and overall turf quality was assessed by visual rating of each plot. All treatments were on a premium fertiliser programme (Sierraform GT) with monthly wetting agent application (H2Pro Trismart), so the benefits given by Stressbuster were in addition to this.

The trial site experienced 35 days with maximum temperatures above 30 degrees Centigrade and eight days above 35 degrees Centigrade. These temperatures are known to cause Bentgrass greens physiological stress, reduced photo-synthetic activity, root decline and a reduction in turf quality (Pote et al, 2006; Xu et al, 2003).

Stressbuster had the greatest effect on turf colour (A) and overall quality (B) at Lake Karrinyup Country Club during periods of heat stress. The R
2 value is a statistical measure showing the strength of the correlation.

The trial at Metropolitan Golf Club was managed by SportsTurf Consultants. Like at Lake Karrinyup, Vitalnova Stressbuster gave the greatest improvement in turf colour throughout the trial period.

The trial data showed a strong correlation (R2=0.73) between the number of hot days and the level of improvement in turf colour due to Stressbuster use. Stressbuster gave the greatest improvement in turf colour when turf was subject to hot conditions. It helped the turf cope with and recover from periods of physiological stress.

Similarly, Vitalnova Stressbuster significantly improved the overall turf quality score, again with the biggest effects being measured in the assessments directly following hot days.


  • Vitalnova Stressbuster is a proprietary blend of amino acids, macro and micro-nutrients and was developed to help turf better deal with stressful environmental conditions.
  • Vitalnova Stressbuster produced a greater improvement in turf colour and overall turf quality when bentgrass was subject to heat stress (temperatures above 30 degrees Centigrade).
  • Replicated trials in southern Australia showed that Vitalnova Stressbuster helped the turf cope with and recover from periods of physiological stress.


  • Pote J, Wang Z, and Huang B (2006) Timing and Temperature of Physiological Decline for Creeping Bentgrass. Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science 131(5):608–615.
  • Xu Q, Huang B, and Wang, Z. (2003) Differential Effects of Lower Day and Night Soil Temperatures on Shoot and Root Growth of Creeping Bentgrass. Hortscience 38(3):449–454.
  • Zhang X, Summer S and Ervin E (2013) Foliar Amino Acid-Based Fertiliser Impact on Creeping Bentgrass Drought Resistance. International Turfgrass Society Research journal 12:1-7.

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