We have just recently finished up our fall greens Aerification for 2013. As I have explained in previous posts, this vital agronomic practice is extremely crucial for the long-term health of our bentgrass putting surfaces. Aerification achieves three important objectives. It relieves soil compaction, it provides a method to improve the soil mixture around the highest part of a green’s roots and it reduces or prevents the accumulation of excess thatch. The condition of a green has a lot to do with what goes on below the surface. In order for grass to grow at 1/8-inch, it must have deep, healthy roots. Good roots demand oxygen. In good soil, they get the oxygen from tiny pockets of air trapped between soil and sand particles. Over the course of time, foot traffic from golfers, mowing equipment, etc. compact the soil under the putting green surface. When the soil becomes compacted, the tiny air pockets become crushed and the roots start becoming deprived of necessary oxygen.Without oxygen, the grass plants become weaker and will eventually wither and die.
Aerification is a mechanical process that creates more air space in the soil and promotes deeper rooting, helping the grass plants stay healthy. In most cases, the process is done by removing cores from the compacted soil, allowing for an infusion of air and water that brings a resurgence of growth. The spaces are then filled with sand “topdressing” that helps the soil retain air space and makes it easier for roots to grow downward. Older greens are often constructed of soils with significant amounts of silt, clay and fine organic particles that are prone to compaction. Filling aerification holes with sand improves drainage and resists compaction. The periodic introduction of sand to a green’s top layer can over time, avoid or postpone expensive rebuilding or renovation of greens.
Finally, actively growing turf adds to a layer of organic matter on the surface. This layer, called thatch, is an accumulation of dead stems, leaves and roots. A little organic matters makes for a resilient green, but too much invites diseases and insects. Topdressing with sand can prevent thatch buildup, and aerification is one of the best ways to reduce an existing layer and prevent an excess of thatch from becoming established.
On another subject, we have officially broken ground on our new Turf Care Facility. This facility will be state-of-the-art. It will be large enough to easily accommodate up to 30 employees, house all of our maintenance equipment inside of buildings and be environmentally sensitive (which is becoming more important every day). We are looking forward to the completion of this project and I will include updates on how the construction process is progressing with future blog entries.
As always any questions, comments or feedback is appreciated.
We'll see you out there!