Friday, August 22, 2014

60 Second Soil

After several long days, the fairway aerification process is now complete.  We often say that the actual aerification is the easy part--it's the cleanup that takes so much time and effort.

The first trick after the cores are pulled is to time the processing of them just right.  Dave Oatis, Director of the Northeast Region of the USGA Green Section, once commented that we have "60 second soil."  He was referring to the very narrow window of opportunity when aerification plugs are neither too wet nor too dry.  If we start working the fairway a bit soon, we end up with mud, mashed into the turf.  However, if we're a minute too late, the plugs dry into something you could make pottery out of, and won't break up.

Aerification plugs on #1 fairway, starting to dry.

Not surprisingly, the amount of time it takes for the cores to dry will vary greatly, based on the time of day, and weather conditions.   As they lose moisture, they lighten in color, and we prepare for the processing phase of the operation.  For this, we use an old fairway mower equipped with verticut units, which chop the plugs.  The machine also tows a heavy drag mat, that further separates the soil from the thatch.

Mike is processing cores on #18 fairway. 

 After dragging, the thatch is picked up and hauled away.  The final step is blowing, using both a tractor-mounted blower, and several backpack blowers.  This part of the process is very labor-intensive, but the end result is a clean fairway which will heal quickly.

Thatch removal and blowing on #18.
#18 fairway the day after aerification.

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