Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Compost Amendment on Fairways

16 Fairway, Good germination 
16 Fairway, Seeded Nov. 23rd
One of the recommendations for amendments on our fairways was to incorporate 1" of organic compost from leaf litter into the top 3" of the soil profile. We did this on all the fairways although it amounted to more of a dusting due to time constraints and material available. On most of the fairways we just put out a light dusting to darken the soil as we didn't usually have time to wait for the amount of material needed to be delivered to achieve the desired 1".

"Skip" in compost = No Germination 
Virgina tech in cooperation with the University of Maryland did a study a few years ago on germination rates, establishment, surface water runoff and overall turf quality when using organic compost vs no compost. The were establishing Tall Fescue in low maintained rough areas. They set up a trial tilling in organic compost, topdressing with organic compost and no organic compost control. They found that the use of organic compost delayed initial germination but once the seed did germinate it was healthier and stronger and performed better during the course of the trial. (you can read the report here, Page 15)

15 Fairway Seeded Nov. 10th 
When we got around to 16 fairway we had somewhat of a surplus of compost. Combined with the fact that we weren't rushing to get 16 done as it was approaching December and from our standpoint we were dormant seeding the fairway. Soil temperatures had already drifted below 50 degrees on average and we weren't expecting to see much germination this fall/winter from the seed but had high hopes the seed would germinate once soil temperature increased in the spring. We also had not logged the heads on 16 into the computer and therefore couldn't supply the new seed with water to encourage germination. With all that in mind I decided it would be a good time to do our own trial in regards to the organic compost.

"Pocket" of Compost 
Instead of doing the usual dusting I put out a good 1" of compost across the entire fairway and then worked it in to a depth of 3". We then seeded the fairway the same way and let mother nature take over. We seeded 16 on November 23rd, I used 15 and 3 fairway, which had been seeded on November 10th and 16th to compare germination times and rates.

To my surprise 16 out performed both 3 and 15 despite both those fairways receiving adequate irrigation following seeding. Turf cover on 16 is around 65% compared to roughly 20% on the other two fairways. In areas where the organic compost had been sitting on the surface and collected from rain the Bentgrass turf is doing exceptionally well and is growing. The rest of the fairway has germinated but isn't as far along as the seed thats in these "pockets" of the compost.
3 Fairway, Seeded Nov. 16th 

Come spring time I will be sure to put the full 1" of compost across the rest of the fairways

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Fairway Grassing

Seeding September 24th
We seeded our first hole September 24th which was the par 5 6th hole. From that point on we moved at pretty good clip averaging seeding a hole every 7-10 days. At this point holes 3, 4, and 6-17 have been completed and seeded minus cart paths and tees.

Seed bed Prep 
The first hole took the longest to prep for seed at about 10 days. The construction crew and shapers had already come through and rough shaped the holes, moved soil, built bunkers, installed drainage and dug out lakes. Each hole was then stabilized with Annual Rye Grass and the shapers moved on to the next hole. ISI Irrigation then came in and laid out the piping and heads on the stabilized holes following closely behind the shapers. We decided to go with Toro Infinity Heads and Toro Lynx 2 wire system with Smart Hubs. ISI did a great job with the instal and have been a pleasure to work with.

Ripping with Motor Grader
 Most of the holes sat idle all summer till we could get back around to do the seed bed prep, final shaping and touch up work after the irrigation had been installed. In order to create an adequate seedbed we ripped the fairways to 12" with a motor grader. After that we took a chisel plow over them and then chopped everything up wth a disc. Once the initial ripping, plowing, and discing had been completed we applied Lime, Gypsum, PPM (Chicken Manure) and Organic compost to the soil profile and worked it in to provide pre-plant nutrients.

10 days post germination  
Once that process was completed the finish work began. The construction crew floated the fairways and rough, did the final shape on the bunkers and installed drainage in them. Greens were keyed in, a process to insure the transition from soil to greens are smooth and level and greens drain properly. After that we laid sod on the greens surrounds, bunkers, and any slopes we were worried would wash away with heavy rains. Like I said this process took 10-12 days on the first hole as everyone was learning to work together and establish a solid game plan. by then end we could complete this process in 3-4 days depending on sod delivery!

4 weeks post germination 
After the seed bed was prepped and ready for seed I came through and seeded the fairways and rough with a 6' box dimple seeder. We seeded Fairways 2 directions at 2lbs/1000ft2 total of Tee 2 Greens Pureformance Fairway blend. Rough we seeded one direction at 7lbs/1000ft2 with a 90/10 Tall Fescue/Perrenial Rygrass blend. Once the seed was down we put straw mat down around the fairway perimeter and on any slopes in the rough we were worried would wash away. The difference in germination and maturation between the straw mat areas and non straw mat was so impressive we started straw matting the entire rough as we progressed. We didn't put any cover or matting on the Bentgrass seed.

Behind on Mowing! 
The first fairway took about 6 days to germinate with the rough right behind it. Once the plants had matured enough we began hitting them with ammonium sulfate to encourage growth. The earlier fairways came in nicely and began thickening up quickly, we weren't able to get as many applications of Ammonium Sulfate on the later Fairways due to MD's Fertilizer cutoff. Those fairways are still coming in nicely though.

Aerifying with solid tines 
With everything going on and a limited staff we struggled to stay on top of the mowing of the new Fairways. Number 6 got a little shaggy toward the end of October. We were able to Demo a Toro Pro Core 648 Aerifyer the beginning of November and I went out and Aerified any areas that were struggling to come in with 1/2" solid tines. This process really helped the fairways retain moisture and let the seedlings spread.

6 Fairway Cutting Nicely
 Moisture management was a struggle with the speed we were seeding. Bentgrass seed needs constant moisture the first week to aid in germination and with our limited water supply (2 wells for 200 gpm total) it made for some interesting programming to keep moisture up in the newly seeded Fairways as well as the young plants. However, Toro Lynx Programming made this job easier and I was able to run a lot of the irrigation right from my phone. This let me add water to areas that were drying up as I was checking on the course without having to run back to the computer.

One of the big take aways I had from my classes at Rutgers Professional Golf Turf Management School was from Stephen Kay, Golf Course Architect. He recommended slicing Bentgrass Fairways to encourage lateral growth. We didn't have a traditional slicer on hand so I took our Disc and straitened the arms, added a Excavator bucket for wait and attached a pull behind roller to it to do our slicing. It worked great and I feel it aided in the fairways tightening up and filling it.

 As of now 7 of the 10 fairways we seeded have germinated and are filling in, 15 and 3 are trying to germinate and 16 looks like its going to wait till spring.

Growing in and looking great