FOR GOLF COURSE SUPERINTENDENTS
By: John Mascaro
July 2000 - Volume 6 Number 3
In this issue:
The truth about soil infiltration.
The truth can finally be told about soil infiltration and what it really means. For many years, soil infiltration rates were a way of comparing, like the fishermen who always argue over the bigger fish. "Fred, did you know that the infiltration rate on number seven is fourteen inches an hour!" "Well now"; Sam replies, "My grandmothers yard infiltrates better than that!" Well the truth now can be told that infiltration rates cannot be compared from one golf course to another. In fact, with different soil characteristics of one golf course spreading out over 200 acres, in many instances, infiltration rates cannot be compared from one green to another.
So why is the Infiltrometer the most popular diagnostic tool that we manufacture? Because infiltration is in fact a barometer of your soil's health. It shows the relationship of your soil particles to the amount of air exchange that takes place.
Often Infiltration is that invisible benchmark that if it is now at eight inches an hour, when it drops down to seven inches an hour, it is time to aerify. If there is ever a 10% drop in infiltration rate on an established turfgrass area, corrective actions need to be taken. If corrective actions are taken, and the infiltration is still decreasing, there needs to be a close examination as to what the cause may be.
Infiltration, the rate at which water moves into the pore spaces within the soil is directly tied into the way that air moves into and out of the soil. If the water moves slowly into the soil, gasses like carbon monoxide will move slowly out of the soil. If these gasses are not allowed to escape before more water is added, then a build up occurs. This is the beginning of a real orgy of sorts for anaerobic microorganisms.
If infiltration rates are kept in a normal range (normal being what is consistent for that area) then the root health of the grass will improve. If infiltration rates are kept in a low range, often roots will actually suffocate and die, causing the eventual loss of turf.
Beware, what you do may be illegal.
It has come to my attention thanks to Jim Yardley from the New York Times that many things we take for granted as being legal in this great country of ours are actually illegal, depending on what county you are standing in. "In Peralta, New Mexico, Richard Pitcher and Kimberly Henry began their courtship in January with a lunch that led to dinner that incited three dizzy weeks of talks of marriage. But his second divorce was still fresh, and her first marriage had been a disaster, so they decided to try a road test of sorts. They moved in together. Everything seemed to be progressing nicely until the summons arrived in the mail charging them with violating article 30-10-2 of the New Mexico criminal code, otherwise known as unlawful cohabitation. First offenders get a warning; repeat offenders could spend six months in jail.
"I just couldn't believe it," Picher said. "I was shocked." In many places these days, living together carries less of a moral stigmatism than smoking, but in New Mexico, it is against the law. Few New Mexicans realize this, and even fewer of the states law enforcement officers have ever chosen to uphold the statute, perhaps from the lack of jail space. But one person familiar with the law is Prichart's second ex-wife, and in February she filed a complaint.
In New Mexico, the statute is a reminder that the states legal codes are like old attics: Almost anything can be in there, and cleaning them out is never easy. In Oklahoma, for example, a person can be sentenced to 30 days in jail for "injuring" fruit, melons or flowers. In North Carolina, swearing remains prohibited in all 100 counties - except two at opposite ends of the state for balance."
Perhaps we could lobby for a law against golfers not fixing their ball marks?
The new sampling techniques add to the knowledge of "How am I really doing?"
As long time superintendent always seem to know the answer to the question, "How healthy is my turf". Is this knowledge a gut feeling or perhaps a sixth sense? No, it is actually based upon factual information obtained by daily inspection of actual conditions on the golf course. These daily inspections should be a ritual of every turfgrass manager out there. The amount of clipping in the basket can tell how their fertility program is doing. The texture of the clippings can also reveal important clues as to the amount of water in the leaf tissue. And most importantly of all, the soil profile will tell the daily status of the roots. If these guys are not happy, white and growing, then there is trouble brewing on the horizon. If this daily inspection reveals wet conditions, possibly above that troublesome layer at the four inch level, well it stands to reason that tonight might be a good night to let the greens dry down a little to restore some much needed oxygen to the root zone.
The new Mascaro Profile Sampler has become the most utilized tool for inspecting root zones on a daily basis. You can now quickly examine any turfgrass area by flipping the sampler cutter blade open with the specially designed hinge. This tool gives the best quality soil sample and the versatility of being able to re-insert the sample back into the green with a perfect fit. Now the daily inspection of root health is one-step easier then ever before. To see this tool in action click here:http://www.turf-tec.com/MPS2.html
Additional CD-ROM's available for your library.
I am sure most of you have already added Tom Mascaro's CD-ROM of 800 plus images to your collection. This disk is available only through the GCSAA. If you do not own it yet, here is a free preview:http://www.turf-tec.com/CD/00INDEX.HTML
In addition I just received the USGA's Green Section Record on CD-ROM with the entire content of the green section record from 1921 - 1997. This eleven set CD series is very worthwhile to browse through. To find out more about their CD-ROM go to:http://www.usga.org/green/record/index.html and click on the CD ROM Tab on the left.
The American Society of Agronomy also has several CD-ROM's on sale such as Maintenance of Athletic Turf, Microbiology of Turf Soils and Turfgrass Insects. This is available at :http://www.asa-cssa-sssa.org/cgi-bin/Web_store/web_store.cgi Then click on the CD ROM bookcase.
Do your sprinklers have that grown over blues?
If every morning, after your sprinklers run, the grass around your heads looks like Don King's hair, then there may be a problem. The main reason for sprinklers poor performance is overgrown areas around sprinkler heads. It seems that these areas are a type of grass magnet whereas you can almost see the grass grow over the heads. When the sprinklers are turned on, this wayward grass often impairs the distance and uniformity of the best tuned systems and causes irregular patterns of wet and dry that often mystifies even the best trained turfgrass experts.
There are now two new ways to trim sprinkler heads available from Turf-Tec. We have been selling the Donut Trimmer edging blades for over 10 years now. Their blades fit over your existing weed eater and when used at 1/2 throttle, they trim neatly around the head. The new addition to our line is the Trim Clean Sprinkler Head Trimmer. This heavy-duty trimmer consists of a solid welded frame and a serrated stainless steel blade.
The cutting head is replaceable with 5", 6", 7" and 8" diameter blades. So get rid of that Don King look and get your sprinklers back to shooting straight with the trim clean. See:http://www.turf-tec.com/trim.html
More exciting than watching grass grow?
Thanks to an article I found written by Ken Thomas from the Associated Press, I was intrigued about something I read.
In the words of Mr. Thomas "Des Moines, Iowa - An Internet camera focused day and night on an Iowa cornfield has proved more interesting than watching grass grow.
Visitors to the Corn Cam web page seem fascinated by the site of cornstalks getting taller with each passing day, and have been emailing their appreciation."
The people using the Corn Cam range from teachers showing their urban students about farm life, to office employees that long to see something green.
"Since May 17th, thousands of web watchers have fastened their eyes on Jim and Sharon Grief's cornfield in Monticello, Iowa. The web sitehttp://www.iowafarmer.com/corncam/corn.html
invites viewers to "cheer as the mighty cornstalks battle wind, hail and rainstorms."
The response has been overwhelming - more than 20,000 hits on one day last week alone and about 500 e-mails. "Everything from 'I wish it was marijuana you were growing' to one from New Zealand that wanted to know why we didn't turn on the lights so they could see it over there during their daylight hours," Jim Greif said."
Any ideas? I call out to all you web pioneers, how about a Green Cam. It would be more informative then watching corn grow. Besides, just think you could log in from Augusta, Georgia and see how the grass is doing in Cypress Point, California. You could also see if they are aerifying in Oxford, Mississippi or in Tucson, Arizona. Or how are the greens rolling in Coral Springs, Florida versus how the greens are rolling in Lawrence, New Jersey. Just think of the possibilities! It would sure make tournaments more interesting. Perhaps we could micromanage the cameras. Perhaps have a bottom of the hole cam, or a golf ball cam. I can also envision a mower cam or a topdressing cam. Perhaps for the agronomists in the world, we could even offer a worm cam. Put on those high tech thinking caps and get back to me if you have any ideas!
Here is an example of some information that you can get from the USGA CD ROM. This excerpt comes from the February 1930 edition of the USGA Green Section record.
"Question: Average cost of maintaining an l8 hole golf course. We have just finished the reconstruction of our golf course and should like to get some idea as to the approximate cost of maintaining an 18 hole course, including all labor and supplies outside of the greenkeeperís salary. We are figuring on operating during the coming year on a budget of $10,000 to $12,000. (Indiana.)
ANSWER.- From an estimated average maintenance cost of $18,000 a year, exclusive of greenkeeperís salary, for 18-hole courses throughout the Northeastern States, it would seem that your figures are hardly adequate. It is difficult to quote figures regarding maintenance costs, which will be helpful in a general way. Moreover a comparison of maintenance costs on various golf courses is often unfair to one or more of the courses being compared. Soil conditions, the contour of the land, variety of grasses, method of construction, size of the property under the Greenkeepers care, and similar factors, and most important of all the demands of the club membership, influence the maintenance costs to a very great extent. Some clubs demand that the course be in excellent condition the year round. Other clubs prefer to get along at less expense and hence cut down on the number of men employed. Consequently at various times the rough on the course is neglected, the sand traps are not raked daily, greens are not weeded regularly, and perhaps the putting surface becomes irregular at times due to lack of top-dressing. The yearly fertilizing of fairways is a well-warranted expense. Some clubs, however, neglect this item for a number of years, which means that on certain soils the fairways will in time become very poor and the clubs will have to go to special expense to recover their turf. It is thus apparent that a large number of widely varying factors must be taken into consideration in preparing an annual budget to cover the cost of course maintenance."
Contributions to this publication.
I also want to invite all of you recipients of this newsletter that if you wish to contribute any information that you find interesting or exciting, please send it to me and I will include it along with crediting it's source.
Also, if you know another Golf Course Superintendent that would like to receive the Turf-Tec Digest, have them forward their email address along to me. In addition, I get most of my new product ideas from Golf Course Superintendents who see a need in the industry that has not been filled. Be sure to look at the new product section on my web site for new additions to the line.http://www.turf-tec.com/Map.html
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