ith demand for golf year-round and ever higher expectations from members, improving greens is an ongoing task for Greenkeepers.
The Grass Group's Jon Proffitt explains that some clubs are not only overseeding twice a year to take advantage of the best grass growing conditions, but also like to keep on top of turf cover on a more regular basis.
"Hadley Wood Golf Club near Enfield, Middlesex, has had a lot of success with the Rotadairon RGD140 overseeder, and Head Greenkeeper Simon Grand uses a rolling programme of overseeding, treating any greens that need it," he explains.
The RGD140 is used in a cross hatch pattern, with the second pass at 30degrees to the first, and Simon has reported strong growth after just 10 days, with the first seedlings emerging in less than a week.
Hadley Wood is seeking to increase the proportion of bents in its greens, to give a hard wearing playing surface with reduced maintenance requirements. The downside, Jon points out, is that Velvet Bent is a very expensive seed, so wastage must be avoided at all costs.
"Fortunately, the RGD140 has an exceptionally accurate metering system, so Greenkeepers can calculate sowing rates very precisely," he explains. "Using a dial on the side of the hopper, the correct position is selected for this very fine seed, applying exactly 3kg per green. It's really easy to use."
Good seed to soil contact is essential, says Jon, and the RGD140 is equipped with steel discs to open a slit, adjustable from 0-60mm deep to suit the requirements of different seeds, into which a seeding shoe places the seed. A set of rubber tyres follows closing and pressing the slot to give the best possible conditions for germination.
"Greenkeepers naturally worry about lines left in the turf by overseeding, but in practice, after two passes, these can hardly be seen," comments Jon. "The narrow 48mm spacing also helps, as well as giving really good coverage."
After seeding, best results are obtained by top dressing and brushing in, followed by a pass with a mower and roller the following day. But there need be no interruption to play, another concern at busy golf clubs.
"At Hadley Wood we were seeding with golfers playing towards us!" says Jon. "Simon commented that after mowing, there was no ball wobble at all where we had overseeded, so it does not impact on the quality of the playing surface."
Avoiding compaction and turf damage is another priority, and the compact, lightweight RGD140 can be comfortably handled by a 25hp tractor, which also leaves bigger power units free for more demanding renovation work. Drive from the seeder is taken directly from the rear roller and does not require a pto or hydraulics. Weights built into the chassis aid penetration on hard ground, but additional weights can be added if necessary.
"The overseeder is close coupled to the tractor, and this alongside the use of a floating top link allows it to follow ground contours and work accurately on undulating or stepped McKenzie greens," Jon comments.
Capable of handling a wide range of seeds - even wild flower seeds - with simple calibration via a crank handle, the RGD140 would also be a good bet for a contractor or local authority as it is equally suitable for cricket and football pitch renovation, he suggests. At 1.4m wide, it has the capacity to be productive on pitches while being compact enough to work on smaller greens.
"It's such a simple machine to use - once the operator knows the required depth and seed rate, he can set it up in a matter of minutes. Overseeding is an easy and cost effective way of improving turf, and with the right machinery it can fit into the regular maintenance regime for best results."
The Grass Group, Wadebridge Farm, Landwade, Exning, Newmarket Suffolk CB8 7NE UK
Tel: +44 (0) 1638 720123 - Fax: +44 (0) 1638 720128 - www.thegrassgroup.com