When golfers hear the word aeration they begin to cringe, to greenskeeper's, aeration is a way to help turfgrass plants become healthier and able to withstand the stress put on it by golfers, machines, and Mother Nature (See previous blog posts). In technical terms aeration has many different forms, some are more invasive to the playability of the course than others. Core aeration, the practice we have implemented the past couple of years on greens, is the most invasive and can take 2 weeks to 1 month to recover depending on conditions. This practice was necessary at Ridgeway to remove unwanted organic matter from our putting surfaces. Remember organic matter can hold water in the upper part of the soil profile and create problems in warm, humid and rainy weather. Because we have done a good job of removing organic matter we are now concerned with compaction, root growth, and water infiltration. We are now better served to go with a program that relies less on pulling cores (more invasive on playability) to solid tining, needle-tining or deep solid tining.
The past 2 seasons we core aerated greens a total of 4 times and in 2012 we are not core aerating putting surfaces. In lieu of core aerating we will be solid tine aerating more often with small needle tines, which has little if any affect on playability. This will allow us to grow roots down to 8", relieve compaction and dramatically improve water infiltration. Because our season is already short we will have minimal disruption in play on our greens in 2012.
In the future most of our practices will revolve around surface preparation. This means trying to grow the plant less, which intern produces less organic matter and thatch. Growth from excessive fertilization and excessive watering overtime only makes more thatch and organic matter. That means we need to core aerate more, verticut more, and topdress heavier to dilute and remove unwanted organic matter/thatch. This then means more interruption in playability to correct organic matter and thatch. By growing the plant less, fertilizing only to meet the plants basic needs, watering intelligently, and growing roots of the plants not shoots, we will have less need to core aerate our putting surfaces. Instead of 2 aggressive core aerations a season we will use small diameter needle tines more frequently. More aeration with little to no disruption means both superintendent and golfer are happy! !
This topic is one I will continue to discuss on the blog and if anyone has any questions on this or any topic I encourage you to call, email or stop by the shop I'd be happy to discuss them or show you around our maintenance facility. Thanks … golf season is just around the corner!