Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hydrophobic Soils

At recent green committee meetings I have harped on about the lack of winter rainfall and the potential consequences we could experience as a result. In the main, I have focused on the added pressure, with a 4 week earlier start to irrigation than average, on our water allocation particularly towards the back end of the season. Combined with the earlier start we are also contending with the need to increase usage above that normally used as the dry weather continues through Spring. We are limiting usage where we can, carefully monitoring consumption and will balance the levels over the course of the irrigation season.

The other consequence of this drier than average weather pattern, is the development of Hydrophobic soil conditions or water repellent soils, in basic terms a situation where a soil will not wet regardless of the amount of water applied. Generally we experience this problem at some point through the summer season, on all turf areas to varying degrees, West Australian sands are among the most susceptible in the country to developing Hydrophobic conditions, particularly in areas of poor sprinkler coverage, or open exposed areas.
In small areas such as greens and tees applications of wetting agents in advance of any surface symptoms takes place as a normal maintenance procedure, the renovation period where coring is undertaken, humus added also helps with the prevention of this. On large scale areas such as fairways, due to costs, we treat as required, this usually is in the form of one application roughly timed around the beginning to mid summer and then spot spraying patches if they develop. De thatching the fairways, tho 2nd yearly due to costs also plays a role in addressing this problem.
This season we are already experiencing the water repellent conditions in the fairways, some 2 months earlier than average, below are two pictures illustrating the effect of Hydrophobic soil.
Both pictures were taken after 15mm of irrigation was applied, only 2m separated the location of the plugs.

 This plug,left, has moisture to the depth of the plug, the surrounding turf is green and healthy.

The plug is dusty dry, no moisture at all, the surrounding turf is yellow, showing signs of stress, weak and thin as a result.

Soil water repellency is caused through the production of complex organic acids during the decomposition of organic matter. These acids are wax like substances that form a coating over soil particles which repel water. Some diseases and insect pests also excrete a wax like substance with the same result.
Water has strong cohesive forces, (water molecules are strongly attracted to themselves, a droplet) and adhesive forces, ( attraction of water to other surfaces which causes the water to spread out) By using soil surfactants, (non ionic wetting agents), we accomplish 2 outcomes, we reduce the surface tension of the water (the cohesive force) and increase the adhesive force with the hydrophilic compounds (water loving) in the wetting agent coating the soil particles.
On large scale turf areas, this can be costly, hence why we are very stringent with its use large scale. Over the next week we will be applying wetting agents to Fairways to improve the hydrophobic conditions experienced at present.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

3rd surrounds

Works to the 3rd green surrounds was completed this week despite loosing some time to repairing a main line break on the back 9 caused by tree roots. The offending tree roots and tree were removed.
 Getting back to the 3rd, all work was carried out by staff, the turf was cut from the surrounds and set aside for laying later, sand from the 4th pit used to create the mounding and extra turf cut from the practice fairway to cover the area. The green will now have a 1m collar before sloping off rectifying the problem of balls being putt of the green with the sharp and sudden drop that was. The area will be G.U.R till establishment.

In other news, the greens were given their first cut after Reno's last Monday at 6mm and have been cut everyday since, we will gradually lower the height over the next week and should be 4mm next weekend, 3mm the week after.
The tees are recovering well from the renovations to them and both greens and tees should be in great condition in 3 weeks.
Fairway fertiliser application will be carried out this week starting Sunday afternoon on the back 9, with the manual irrigation system it is critical we allow enough time for irrigating the fairways after application hence why the need to start on Sunday arvo. 

Friday, October 8, 2010

What A Month

Hello Everyone,
Today capped off a huge past 4 weeks for staff with completion of the tee and surrounds renovations with the top dressing of these areas. Prior to this we had the successful preparations for the Capel 3000 and the extra attention to detail given to the course for a major event with the course presented in great fashion. We then had a week where only Anthony and myself were on duty, before the greens renovation this past weekend and followed up this week with the coring of all the tees, bunker surrounds, walkways and the Practice tee and top lawn area.
On top of this, the unusually dry warm weather through Winter has continued through September meaning an earlier than expected start to irrigation of the course. With the manual system on the back 9 still in operation, time had to be devoted to this critical part of course operations which wasn't expected when finalising the works program 6 months ago.
During this month we have farwelled Geoff, who you would all know was employed in place and till the appointment of an apprentice ( no one knew it would take near on 3 years to do so at the time), we thank Geoff for his efforts over the past 3 years and certainly since my arrival has proved a valuable member of staff. Our best Wishes to him and he will be missed. A BBQ was held this past Wednesday with staff and some regular volunteers to say thanks.
On a lighter note, Jimmy and partner Jess welcomed a new baby girl to their family and our congratulations and best wishes to them as they start to realise having 2 kids under 3 means some sleepless nights but Jimmy don't worry, wait till those two baby girls are teenagers and then I am sure there will be ALLOT of sleepless nights by you.
So as you can see the past 4 weeks have been varied and hectic but as Tim Shaw says on those infomercials, "But Wait, Theres More", next week we start the 3rd green surrounds improvement works. This work will take longer to complete as a result of the irrigation requirements for the course and the commencement of split shifts for staff to cover the manual irrigation as per norm. It should still be completed within the week and the area will be fenced ( roos) and G.U.R till established.
That's it for this week happy golfing.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Greens Renovation Pictorial

The greens renovations were completed this past weekend, some pics follow.
Using Solid Tines
Holes Opened

Applying Amendments

Top Dressing
Brooming Sand

After Brooming
All up the greens renos took 10hrs to complete, the greens also had excess sand removed by hand boarding, and brooming.
This week we have cored all Tees, Walk ways and most Surrounds using our small corer. Verti cutting of the worst "thatched up tees" is progressing. Fertilising, amendments and Top dressing will be completed By Friday.