COURSE CARE
Weigh Your Aeration Carefully February 27, 2015

Weigh Your Aeration Carefully

By Bud White, director, Mid-Continent Region
October 9, 2009

I have seen a growing trend over the last several months of superintendents steering away from core aeration and relying more heavily on solid tine aerations and various sand injection units.  Although these types of aeration equipment are a tremendous tool for improving venting or the movement of air and water into the profile, they do not by any means replace core aeration

 

10_9_2009Pic  
Organic matter can accumulate quickly if not properly managed.
Remember, the new hybrid grasses of today, both bentgrass and bermudagrass, are tremendous thatch producers because of their growth characteristics to produce the tighter and faster surfaces that generate improved putting quality.  With this, however, comes a price — the need for more aggressive aeration and cultural management programs to maintain these grasses properly and keep them in a condition that can produce the putting surfaces desired.

When a solid tine or a sand injection unit is utilized, room must be made for this solid penetration into the soil profile, and, in the process, increased compaction can occur laterally.  This is not a concern when these type of venting tools are utilized as a supplement to core aeration, however, when they become a replacement for core aeration problems can arise.

It is our job as turf managers to educate golfers to understand that core aeration is not an option, but an essential part of a quality cultural management program.  There must be a percentage of organic matter removed from the profile and replaced with the proper topdressing sand.  The accompanying picture is an example of a typical profile of heavy organic accumulation that can occur in a relatively short period of time with today’s new grasses.  This layer will become a significant problem if not properly managed because of the surface tension that will restrict and almost eliminate air and water movement into the soil resulting in black layer, localized dry spot, shallow and weak rooting, and algae problems.  Proper cultural management includes balancing organic removal through core aeration along with the regular introduction of sand to keep the organic matter blended with sand to maintain porosity in this zone.

As you set 2010 aeration schedules with the golf calendar, make sure you are not eliminating core aeration due to golfer pressure or inaccurate information from the field stating how solid tine and sand injection equipment can replace core aeration.

For  more information about a Turf Advisory Service visit, please contact either of the Mid-Continent regional offices:  Bud White, (972) 662-1138 or budwhite@usga.org and Ty McClellan, tmcclellan@usga.org or (630) 340-5853.  We look forward to being of service to you and your golf course.

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