Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Add-on wood burning stove update

Our first Laclede Gas bill is in for the mid-November/mid-December period. We've saved around $ 600 from the past few years average to this years bill for the same period. Wood burner was only operational from around December 3rd.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Wood burning add-on furnace for maintenance building

With over 1,000 trees covering the playing area of our golf course and a few hundred more around the perimeter of the driving range, there will be an abundance of wood from trees that are removed each season. With this supply of wood, it only makes sense to utilize this resource for a potential heat source and not to send it off property and pay for the dumpster.

We have a large Dayton heater with dual forced air blowers which uses natural gas to heat the equipment garage area of our maintenance building. We also have a smaller forced air gas heater for our small office, break room, restroom and chemical storage area. The main mechanic shop area has a smaller single fan gas heater as well.

We purchased a 115,000 BTU add-on wood burning furnace to heat our main shop area.

Link to the company where we purchased the unit with specifications.


Picture of unit in place in the shop.

We placed the add-on heating unit in a central location of the equipment storage area along the back wall. We ran 2 flexible 8" heat ducts to a couple of different sections of the building to assist in moving the heat to where it is needed. We are able to keep the area in the 55-60 degree range which is fine for our shop area. We have about $ 1,800 in the unit and the duct work. The unit will pay for itself this winter and we should see some additional savings of $1-2,000 this season. Our heat bill runs approximately $4.5-5,000 a season for the entire maintenance facility.

The picture below shows the 8" flexible duct pipe that we ran through the rafters to help distribute the heat to other sections of the building.

We placed a 6 mil piece of plastic across the entire shop area to reduce the amount of area that we want to heat on a regular basis. The area in the back does retain some temperature so it is warmer than the outside and does reduce wear and tear of our batteries on the equipment that is stored in this section of the shop. We can also pull the liner back to allow eat to enter this area when the crew is forced inside due to extreme weather conditions. The equipment that we use in the winter is stored in the back as well which will reduce heat loss when we open doors to go out and complete our work for the day.

Plastic liner(background) between the heated area and reduced heat section of the shop.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Final cleanup of this past year's tree removal

There were a couple of large trees that fell this season and a few others were removed on the course which did not leaf out from last winter. Some were placed in our dump area, hauled away in our dumpster or were stored in our maintenance yard to split during the winter. The past 5-8 working days, the staff have been sawing, moving and splitting this wood to cleanup the area in preparation for this seasons TMP. Some of this wood will be utilized in our wood burning furnace which will allow us to reduce the expense of natural gas which is used to heat the main garage area of our maintenance facility. I will post pictures tomorrow of our new heat source. After purchasing the furnace and duct work to distribute the forced air heat, we hope to realize a savings of $ 1-2,000 this season. In future seasons, we expect to save about 60-80% of our annual $ 4.5-5,000 natural gas bill. We have a small gas forced air heater for our break room/office area and another gas heater which supplies heat to our main equipment repair room.

Russell and Tom moving some wood to our splitting area.
Asst. Skip and Jason splitting wood. The remaing logs for splitting are in the right foreground.The newly split wood is in a pile in the foreground and the 4 rows in the middle to left side of the picture. Ash, maple, locust and some oak pieces make up this area. Our oak section is in the background against fence.

Dormant Fertilzer on greens

For those of you who have played the last week or two, you might have noticed some white specks of product on our putting greens. Its a greens grade fertilizer with IBDU slow release fertilizer technology. It is one of the standard products used to put greens to bed in the winter. The release mechanism for this fertilizer is water which is abundant in the late fall and winter in our part of the country. As our greens freeze and thaw during the winter, this material will breakdown and will migrate into the thatch/mat layer of our greens. Some material could move into our soil layer which is 3-5" below the green surface and will be held by the soil. As the soil temperatures begin to increase in late winter and early spring, the material will become available to the plant. Our turf will green up quicker from this late season application and will assist the plants in recovery from our early season aeration program we utilize in March.

Practice green with fertilizer

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Winter and education

We attempt to stay informed about turfgrass, equipment and or management issues on a regular basis throughout the year. Below are a list of some of ways we try to stay informed:

  • Trade publications
  • Web boards which turf professionals post questions and answers to many issues of the day.
  • Discussions with vendors and or technical sales representatives who come by our facility from time to time.
  • Monthly outings during the golf season held at various types of clubs throughout our area in which assistants Mike, Skip and I attend on a rotating basis. There are opportunities before, during and after the round to discuss ideas and thoughts with the other members of our foursome and or the superintendent at the facility we played. Last season, we attended events at Old Warson CC, Crystal Springs Quarry, Crown Point, and Spencer T. Olin. I also went to Lake Forest Country Club for an equipment demo and St. Louis Country Club with our Master Plan architect. Assistant Mike went to Spencer T. Olin and the Falls Golf Club and did interviews with Superintendents to write profile articles for our local supt. association publication. I also attend the USGA Women's Amateur at Old Warson CC and the USGA Team Championship at St. Albans CC. You always want to support a local supt and their staff's who are hosting the event but you never know when you might see something at the facility that would be something you would like to put in place at your own facility.
  • Phone calls to other superintendents in our area regarding products or procedures that they have found successful or that have been failures.
  • Demos of equipment which we use for a few days to stay informed regarding the newest technology and help us to make the best decisions regarding future equipment purchasing.
  • Attendance at local, regional and national conferences and trade shows.

Winter is the time of year that allows us a chance to do the most research, reading, and attending events to improve our knowledge and keep updated on the most recent trends in the industry.

Below are a couple of links regarding a couple of local/regional turf conferences we attended in the last couple of weeks.

The Missouri Turf and Ornamental Council(MVTA) which I was a member of and a past president of a few years ago had presentations on December 8th in which assistants Mike, Skip and I attended in St. Charles. Good presentations from Phd's representing University of Arkansas, Missouri, Wyoming, and SIUC. I also slid into a couple of the ornamental presentations to gain some additional knowledge in the horticulture part of our job. Below is a link to the brochure for the event.


I made a quick whirlwind trip to Kansas City yesterday(16th) to attend one day of the Heartland Green Industry Expo which is sponsored by the Heart of America Golf Course Supt Association and the Green Industry Council in Kansas City. Disease management on zoysia was a key topic from Asst. Prof. of pathology Megan Keenely from KSU. One of our brightest and best superintendents in the country, Mr David Stone from the Honors Club in Chatanooga made a two hour presentation regarding zoysia management. Interesting information and a fine gentleman. Through his discussion yesterday and trials data from North Carolina State University, we will be testing Fusilade II in our bermuda eradication program this next year. It is a less expensive product than the Acclaim that we have been using and shows excellent results. I understand we had some turf damage with the original Fusilade a few years ago but that was caused by an error in application rate by a contractor that provided the service. We will trial a couple of places to insure that it is safe before we proceed full scale with the product.

There was also great information provided by the USGA in their afternoon presentation. Topics of discussion included equipment testing,(which I will blog about in the future) hole placement and location, and year in review from Ty McClellan who is the Mid-Continent regional agronomist and visited our course last June. Some good tips on hole location which from time to time has created an issue for probably every greens keeper in the world. A link to the brochure for the event below.


In February, I will be attending the GCSAA(Golf Course Superintendent's of America Association) annual conference and show. Great opportunity to gain some additional knowledge and check out the trade show floor which has between 250-300k square feet of exhibition space.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Irrigation Blow Out

Our irrigation system was blown out yesterday. We rent a large compressor which is rated at 750 cubic feet per minute which is the volume of air the machine is able to push through the system. We set the pressure to around 50 psi which reduces the amount of stress on our irrigation system. Our water pressure during the year is kept at 130 psi. Air pressure set too high could damage heads and pipe.

Air compressor
Once the machine is started and begins pushing air through the system, drain lines are opened to our lakes until air blows out through the pipe. Once the drains are closed, the staff turn on heads using our irrigation control boxes which are located on about every other hole. Each box controls one specific set of heads. Directly above the red wires are small toggle switches which are turned on until air begins to come out of the head.
Irrigation Controller

Irrigation head evacuating water.
In the final picture below, Lady Bug is challenging the head to a dual. Once air comes out of the head, the head is turned off and the next head is then activated.

Head blowing air and Lady having some fun