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Fight aging (in your greens)

By |  June 21, 2017 0 Comments

Aging is tough.

It’s just as tough on greens as it is on superintendents. And, just as a superintendent might put on a few pounds under his belt every year, organic matter accumulates as greens age. Superintendents know that applying sand is a key to keeping organic matter under control. And “everyone” knows that coring does a better job of controlling organic matter than venting techniques… or does it?

Roch Gaussoin

Roch Gaussoin

Yes, coring is very effective — but only because you are able to put more sand down with coring, Roch Gaussoin, head of the department of agronomy and horticulture at the University of Nebraska/Lincoln recently told the Alberta (Canada) Golf Course Superintendents Association.

So they ran tests that controlled for the amount of sand applied to aging greens. They looked at two situations, an 80-20 sand-peat mix and an 80-15-5 sand-peat-soil mix. “We equalized the sand on all treatments,” he says. Sometimes that meant applying sand every four to six days. Sometimes it was 21 days.

He compared tine treatment versus venting treatment in greens that were 12 years old and 9 years old. They found no difference. “It is the quantity of sand that will make the biggest difference,” Gaussoin emphasized. Depending on a superintendent’s resources, either tines or venting will be effective.

A student brushes in sand after a topdressing application.

“A superintendent must use whatever tools are at their disposal to ensure sand is making it into the soil profile and not the mower buckets,” says Gaussoin. Topdressing is the most consistent and repeatable factor in organic matter management, he adds. Cultivation, as a means to control organic matter, is insignificant when topdressing quantity is equal.

A green puts on 0.65 cm of organic mat every year after establishment. There is no layering obvious other than the transition between the mat and the original root zone, Gaussoin says. In tests done across a number of greens, almost all showed an increase in fine sand and a decrease in gravel and very coarse sand. The Nebraska research also resolved the age-old question of whether to use solid or hollow tines.

“We can get the same amount of sand in with solid tines as with hollow,” Gaussoin says. Added bonus: there is less sweeping involved with solid tines.

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