Monday, October 13, 2014

Analyzing Our 2014 IPM Program

With the end of the growing season upon us, it is important that we evaluate our Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program, and begin the planning phase of our program for next year. The end of the 2014 season marked the second year of the major change to our fertility program. For the past two seasons we have eliminated the use of granular fertilizer on tees and fairways, applying liquid fertilizer as needed. This practice gives us greater control of our fertilizer usage, while being able to provide better playing conditions, eliminate the flush of new growth, and greatly reduces nutrient runoff and leaching.

The weather throughout the year kept the disease pressure fairly low, allowing us to stretch treatment intervals much beyond our normal window. There were also many instances where we spotted the onset of disease on turf, but were able to delay treatment because of a change in the weather. In addition, changes in our mowing frequency and watering practices played a big role in reducing the disease pressure throughout the season. We will continue to build upon our success going forward to reach our ultimate goal of reducing the amount of pesticide and fertilizer inputs at our facility. Listed below are a few highlights of our IPM program:

  • A total of .45lbs of Nitrogen per 1000 sq ft applied for the season. This is a 79.6% reduction from 2012.
  • A total of 7 spray applications were made with the average interval between treatments of 24.5 days. This is 2 less applications than scheduled.
  •  A total of .77lbs of Nitrogen per 1000 sq ft applied for the season. This is a 61.5% reduction from 2012.
  • A total of 8 spray application were made with the average interval between treatments of 22 days. This is 1 less application than scheduled.
  • A total of 1.25lbs of Nitrogen per 1000 sq ft applied for the season. This is a 37.5% reduction from 2012.
  • A total of 11 spray applications we made with the average interval between treatments of 16 days.  This is 2 less applications than scheduled. 
  • 4 Holganix applications were made throughout the summer months. Holganix is an organic compost tea that aids in root growth, disease suppression, and overall plant health.

    Profile of roots on greens mid-summer

    Picture of healthy fairway turf mid-summer

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Greens Aeration Update

Last week, our maintenance staff core aerated greens. The weather was absolutely perfect during the two day process allowing for a very smooth and well executed job. The aerator was equipped with 3/8" hollow tines set at 1.5"x1.5" spacing. This configuration  provided 72 holes per square foot, removing roughly 8% of the surface area of the green. The small diameter of tine allows for faster recovery of the playing surface while still removing the required amount of material. Now, a week into recovery, the greens are healing very nicely. The holes are about 70% healed and with frequent rolling and mowing, they are putting very good. With another week of recovery, the holes should be completely healed. Below are several pictures of the greens aeration process.

Hole spacing and 3/8" plugs pulled from greens

Maintenance staff working hard to cleanup plugs from the greens

Representation of greens after all practices were completed. Day 1

Representation of greens after 1 week of healing

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Greens Aeration September 9 and 10

Greens aeration is scheduled for Monday September 8 and Tuesday September 9. Nine holes will be completed at a time by the turf management staff. Listed below are the four main benefits of greens aeration. 

1. Improve Playability - The minor disruption in the playing surface immediately following core aeration ultimately helps improve playability. Removing cores helps create a firmer and faster green with increased plant health and density. It also improves the smoothness of the greens in conjunction with sand topdressing.

2. Removal of Organic Matter - Removing organic matter, commonly known as thatch, is crucial to a healthy green. Too much organic matter buildup in fine turf restricts water infiltration causing wet conditions on top, and dry, hydrophobic conditions deeper in the soil. It also ties up valuable nutrients needed by the plant and can cause a "sponge-like" surface vulnerable to mechanical injury.

3. Increase Pore Space - Removing cores creates much more pore space for oxygen. Oxygen is essential to the root system of a putting green. Without a strong root system, putting greens will not be able to weather the hot and humid summers. As the cooler weather slows down the top growth of the grass plant, the root system goes into overdrive as it works to create a deep mass of roots for the next season.

4. Improve Water Infiltration - The channel created by the removal of a core allows for a higher percolation rate of water. This channel of fresh sand is free of organic matter and allows for much faster drainage. This creates a drier and more firm playing surface that protects from wear associated with saturated soil conditions.

The labor intensive process of core aerating greens is absolutely necessary for the health and great playability of golf course putting greens. The few days of disruption seems like a minor inconvenience when you are able to provide many months of great conditions afterwards. The desired putting green conditions of today's golfer are not achievable without core aeration.