Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Greens Renovation Info

With our biennial greens renovation fast approaching I thought I would answer some common questions we receive by players at this time of year.

Why Renovate?
Without getting technical, there are a number of reasons why we renovate the greens, to relieve compaction, to get air into the profile, reduce any thatch build up and to add soil amendments when the greens are open from coring. To be blunt if we didn’t, the greens would deteriorate in condition and eventually die. Further explanations follow.

Why Core ?
Like so many things, the quality of a good putting green is more than skin deep. In fact, the condition of a green has a lot to do with what goes on below the surface. In order to keep grass growing at 3mm you have to 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 time, the traffic from golfers' feet (as well as heavy mowing equipment) tends to compact the soil under the putting green. When soil becomes compacted, the air pockets on which the roots depend are crushed, and the roots are essentially left gasping for air. Without oxygen, the grass plants will wither and die.

Is there any other reason ?
Yes another reason to renovate is for thatch. Thatch is the layer of dead, decaying matter between the green leaf and the soil, if left unchecked, the greens become spongy, soft and slow. The turf also suffers, as this layer acts like a sponge remaining constantly wet, water movement to the soil below is restricted and the roots of the turf tend to remain in the thatch layer. During warmer weather this leads to premature water stress as the thatch dries out sometimes with the turf dying completely. Excessive thatch also provides ideal conditions for Diseases and Pests to grow and spread.

We always used to pull the core out now we just punch holes with solid tines why?
The results from soil sampling show our greens have an organic matter content of just 0.5% where the recommended range is 3 to 5%, further testing also shows the movement of water through the green sand profile is between 5 and 10 times that of the recommended rate. This is a result of using native virgin sands to fill the core holes over a long period of time without adding amendments, effectively removing the limited humus in the greens and replacing it with coarse straight sand.
By using solid tines in conjunction with soil amendments we can speed up the process of increasing the organic matter content, micro organism activity and slowing the movement of water through the profile enough so that we still get good drainage and air pockets but without the premature wilting of turf through lack of moisture caused by excess drainage. 
In saying that, we do need to be mindful of creating a layer of organic matter. As we are approaching a more manageable level we will be alternating the use of solid tines and Hallow tines set slightly deeper than the solids ( pulls the core out of the green) in future.

Adding of Soil Amendments – Each renovation period we conduct soil sampling, amendments to be applied are governed by the test results. We pay close attention to PH levels, Calcium and Magnesium levels, Potassium levels and minor nutrients. It is the most effective time to apply these amendments when the greens are open from Aeration. We also apply products which encourage beneficial micro organism activity.

Topdressing – Top dressing fills the core holes, for a smooth finish once rubbed in, dilutes excess thatch and provides the air pockets spoken of earlier.

I hope you have found this informative so the next time you are playing on renovated greens, you will know, we didn’t renovate to make your round unpleasant, just a relatively small inconvenience for some long term gain.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Trial Fertiliser

We will be trialling a new liquid fertiliser product for fairways this season. By using liquid rather than soluble fertilisers as we have done in the past to supplement the granular fertiliser applications, we will be able to reduce the time taken for refill as we won’t have to dissolve the fertiliser at mixing. This can take anywhere between 30 minutes to 45 minutes depending on the product used before heading out to continue applying the fertiliser.

With only a 600L boom we generally have to refill 6 times to complete the Fairway areas only. This then means we have to spread the application out over 3 mornings as we don’t want to be spraying in the heat of the day or disrupt play.

Unlike the soluble products where we need to mix with water and spray the mixture at 300L per hectare due to having to dilute the product, the liquid alternative only requires a maximum 20 to 30L of water per hectare. Therefore, not only do we save time with not having to dissolve the fertiliser at filling, we can also cover more area with 1 tank load, i.e. we can cover all the fairways with 2 tanks.

We will evaluate the trial by recording growth response, Colour response and longevity of the product after application. The cost comparison per application and labour time will also influence the outcome to continue.
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Why use a foliar type fertiliser? By applying foliar fertilisers we can avoid surge growth which is not beneficial to turf, builds thatch and can lead to leaching. If the trial proves effective we will be able to apply smaller amounts of nutrients regularly, for balanced sustainable growth.
 Foliar fertilisers do not require watering in, with the back 9 still on manual irrigation, it can take 3 days to water the fairways.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

RETIC

The last of the sprinklers for additional coverage of green surrounds on the front 9 were installed this week in time for the coming Irrigation season. The areas highlighted last season as requiring extra coverage will not have the problem of drying out as they did and will allow us to further improve the irrigation of greens with more precise amounts applied, rather than having to irrigate the greens for extra time just so the surrounds could get some more water.
All the installation was undertaken by course staff, including the Valve in Head sprinklers which required wiring into the system.  The same Toro DT series sprinklers were used with smaller nozzles as the rest of the front 9 with varying circle arcs from 180 to 270 degrees to cover surrounds. Using the same model sprinklers uniformly across the course means less parts need to be on hand. 
The installation required cutting into the green line pipe, fittings glued for the Sprinkler take offs, wiring in the decoders to the main wire path and then inputting the data into the Site Pro central Controller. All sprinklers were then tested for performance and passed with flying colours. 

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Surprise Visit

We had two surprise visitors yesterday. Two baby ducks strolled into the maintenance shed, unfortunately an hour long search failed to locate the mother. Good news is Geoff is part of the volunteer Wildlife Rescue and took them under his wing (see pic) until they were found a home at the local Vet to be hand reared and released when they get older.

Must have been wildlife day because later a possum was rescued from the skip bin!!!!

Front Entrance

The Front Entrance and Driveway improvements are nearing completion, the old overgrown garden beds have been removed, made smaller for ease of maintenance and mulched. New Poles now align the Drive in and give a much better approach to the course. We will turf the now bare area of the old garden bed when the growing season is underway.
Cleaned out and mulched


Overgrown


Poles replaced.