The power of deep aeration

Tony Hawkinsin Drainage & Irrigation

Lack of rainfall to date across many parts of the country has resulted in grass areas on golf courses, sports pitches, parks, amenity areas and domestic gardens being in real danger of drying out. Watering will help in the short term, but water shortages could add to the problem. Conversely, recent heavy downpours on compacted grass areas can leave standing water, rendering them unusable and stopping play.

Often, the very action of normal aeration, use of machines and foot traffic leaves areas compacted and panning occurs, creating areas where drainage is poor, and oxygen and nutrients do not reach the grass roots. Terrain Aeration has been providing a long-term solution to this for over twenty five years and the process actually dates back to the 1970s.

One-metre deep penetration using the Terralift machine not only relieves compaction, it is also the vehicle for injecting water and nutrient storing polymers and dried seaweed. The whole process has a beneficial effect that lasts many years - some golf courses treated over fifteen years ago for example, have only recently asked for return visits to renew the treatment.

It works like this. The Terralift hammers a hollow probe one metre into the soil using a JCB road breaker gun (this is because the ground is usually so compact at depth that it needs this hammer to break through). Once the probe has reached one metre depth, compressed air is released up to a maximum of 20Bar (280psi), the Terralift being the only machine using such high air pressure, which is needed to fracture and fissure the soil.

On the tail end of the air blast, dried seaweed is injected which sticks to the walls of the fractures and fissures and, over time, expands and contracts with the moisture content in the soil - similar to "breathing" underground. Incorporated with the dried seaweed is the water storing polymer, such as Broadleaf P4 which is a high performance, long lasting hydrophilic (water and nutrient storing). This polymer will swell with water enabling the roots to take it up (rather than the polymer taking it from the roots). As it is a polymer it will continue to work within the soil structure for many years - so helping with better use of irrigation water and addressing drought conditions.

The 1½" probe holes created by the Terralift machine are backfilled with aggregate to provide a semi permanent aeration/ventilation shaft, helping to keep the whole aeration process working. The top 1" should be topped with the usual topdressing to encourage grass growth over the probe holes. The probe is withdrawn and the process repeated using two-metre centre spacings on a staggered grid pattern - this means that each shot interconnects with the previous ones.

The Terrain Aeration process is ecologically sound, there is no mess and once the green, tee or pitch has been given a light mow it's ready for play to resume.

Terrain Aeration 01449 673783