Winter snow, slight thaw and melt water freezes under the snow, more snow, thaw and rain – another terrible combination for groundsmen and greenkeepers.
The trouble is that because of the “perma-frost” which has been very nicely “growing” underneath the soil, the melt water has not been able to penetrate this layer – flooding has occurred and the reason why the UK is not able to recover in a way that the general public do not understand. On a golf course which looks lovely and green now that the snow has melted away, does not show them the permafrost which is underground and why some puddles have not cleared completely – it is the greenkeepers fault because they have not kept up their work.
Budgets have been whittled down to the barest essentials – greenkeepers and groundsmen have to be accountants as well in their field of maintenance. Here are some ideas of saving money in the long term.
To identify the soil structure so a maintenance plan can be drawn up.
Not a bad idea when you really think about it. Why?
Hand soil corers show you the top 6” – 8” and show the root structure and soil/top dressing layers – so far so good. But…
To carry out a deeper soil core sample would show whether there is any compaction panning or other type of foreign matter beneath – this could tell the tale as to what happens on the top surface.
Terrain Aeration have a soil corer machine which takes soil core samples of 1m long x 50mm diameter displayed in a clear plastic tube. These tubes could be sent off for a full soil analysis, or the greenkeeper would be able to see instantly where the problem lies.
Compaction panning needs to be addressed. By having a well aerated soil structure, roots grow stronger with a healthier sward. Also, less fertiliser, chemicals, “anti this and that” would be required and in the long term, financial savings would also be made.
Deep aeration treatment using the Terralift machine means oxygen is put into the soil structure to help gaseous exchanges underground and rejuvenate the soil. Injection of dried seaweed helps the longevity of the fissures by flocculation, aiding in the aeration process. Using two metre spacings on a staggered grid pattern means each “shot” interconnects with the previous shots, thus aerating the whole surface from 1m depth to the surface. If drains have been laid, by opening the soil structure will allow water to penetrate to the drainage system as well. If you have managed over the years without a drainage system, but the recent flooding has taken longer to disperse, again, deep aeration would be the solution – a “one-off” to get the soil structure opened and working again. This deep aeration treatment is not necessarily required every year; especially if used in conjunction with your top surface aeration machine which would link down to the fissures created by the Terralift machine. Some golf courses may not require this deep aeration treatment for another 10 years or so (after all, the Terralift has been operated in the UK since the mid 1980’s). This course of action can in fact save you money with play continuing, rather than being out of action because of waterlogging and compaction panning.
Trees are also quietly suffering. These last three years have been decidedly wet, allowing pests and disease to thrive. It is only when the tree leaves show a problem that it highlights how serious the problem really is. To take action on the tree “above ground level” is the usual way, hoping to bring a fairly instant response. Unfortunately, the problem could well lie in the soil underneath. Wet conditions around the tree roots, make them “anaerobic” (smells like rotten eggs) and is a problem which can be remedied by aeration.
Maintain a check on trees during budding and throughout the year. Not to delay treatment of a tree – after all a delay of two years means that the rot has already set in and sometimes cannot be stopped. Seek specialist advice on disease and keep an eye out in particular for Yews with possible Phytophthora problems. To spend a few £’s on this advice can save a lot of money if the tree dies, has to be chopped down, branches chipped and taken away, the stump to be ground out and taken away and a replacement tree purchased.
Cut back the tree crown if necessary and removing dead branches. If the problem lies in the soil from compaction, aerate with oxygen using the Terralift machine. (The Terralift was originally designed to aerate tree roots when the inventor in Germany watched contractors using dynamite and thought compressed air through a probe was safer.) Foot and vehicular traffic are the main problems travelling over the root zone. Relieving the compaction means the roots can access a higher percentage of oxygen, with rooms for the rootlets to expand and grow. Using 2m spacings at 1m depth blowing in the compressed air as well as specially formulated tree mix (so as not to cause root burn or scorch) will aid the rejuvenation of the soil. Phytophthora can also be addressed during this work. Once this deep aeration treatment has been carried out unless the tree had showed signs of severe stress, then only one treatment would be required.
So… bullet points for you
Golf greens, tees, bunkers, fairways, trees, pathways
Getting your greens up and running again, and save money.
Snow, permafrost, snow, rain – nothing can get away = flooding
Wait until the ground defrosts and look to finding out if you have a problem and whether you can save money on decompaction treatment
Find out where the problem lies using the soil corer to 1m depth
Treat the soil using the Terralift machine to 1m depth
Look to your trees, especially ones you thought may have been suffering last year
Treat them with air.