Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Greens Aeration Completed on Tuesday, March 28th

Our spring greens aeration was completed over Sunday evening, Monday until dark and completed on Tuesday at noon.  It took about 144 man hours to complete this process with 10 people.  We did a double aeration this year.  We first used our verti-drain deep tining aerator with 3/4" solid tines and a single 1/2" tine in the middle to a depth of 8-9" deep.  The following benefits are derived from this process:

  • Deep channel filled with sand assisting in moving water down through the profile allowing the greens to drain quicker.  
  • Gas exchange between CO2 that builds up in the soil and O2 that becomes depleted in the soil/root system.
  • The deep channel also provides a healthy environment for improved root growth because of water penetration and O2 exchange which roots need to be healthy.
  • Improved drainage.  Our greens have no drainage.  Below our 3-4" sand layer is the existing layer of soil in which our greens were constructed over 100 years ago.  Water drains through the sand layer and then slowly moves through the soil layer or it moves laterally slowing based on the slope of the old construction.

We borrowed a walking aerator from MTI Distributing who is our Toro representative.  This aerator was set up with a 1/2" coring tine spaced at about 2".  A coring tine is hollow.  It pulls a plug of green surface, sand and roots about the size of writing pin out of the green and it lays on the surface waiting for our staff to pick them up.  This was completed at an approximate depth of 2".  The benefits coring provide include:

  • Helps remove some of the mat layer in the top inch of the green profile.  Also referred to by some as the thatch layer.  Plants regenerate new leaves out the side of the existing hole so the hole can become filled in.
  • Exchanges so of the very fine sand that our greens were top dressed with over the years to a sand that is more coarse.  St. Louis area superintendents choice for topdressing sand over the last 20 years was a fine sand that has now created issues in the top few inches of topdressing layer.  The sand holds too much moisture reducing rooting potential and leading to less than healthy greens.
  • The close spacing of the aeration holes also improves oxygen exchange just like the deep tining process.
The heavy sand topdressing helped fill the holes with sand which improves ball roll.  It also gives the roots a safe environment to move into.  

Our process included:
  1. The dual aeration
  2. Picking up the piles of cores with shovels.
  3. We placed one bag of a soil amendment product on the surface which is full of micro nutrients.  Sand is then placed on the greens at about 2-2.5 tons of sand per green.  About 45-50 tons of sand was used for the complete process.
  4. We use a pull behind blower to blow sand into the holes.  The old way was to go around in circles a dizzying number of times with a brush until all the sands were filled with sand.    
  5. Brush the greens with a drag brush behind a cart to smooth the sand and help distribute it across the profile.
  6. Roll the greens with our rolling greens mower.
  7. Apply a fertilizer and then water the greens.
Skip using the deep tining machine with the tractor and I'm using the walking aerator pulling the core on Sunday evening.

Tom using the walking aerator with the plug box on the back.  The first 8 greens were used without which meant the staff had to blow the plugs into two row and then pick up the plugs.  We borrowed the box from Spencer T to speed up our process and save on the guys backs.

The close spacing at 2" centers of the walking aerator.

Russ on the deep tining machine.

Larger holes but not as close spacing as the walking machine.

Harry moving the piles out of the way.

Jason dragging the green with the brush after the sand was blown back and forth and into the holes.

We did a dry mow today on the greens that were completed on Monday.  Greens 11-12, 14-18 will be brushed again tomorrow and will be mowed like the PG, 1-10 and 13 were completed today.

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