In spring, when hopefully hard winter frosts and excessive rainfall have eased, air and soil temperatures are on the rise and sports pitches and golf course fairways are drying out, thoughts turn to aeration and bringing a breath of fresh air to playing surfaces. Dougie Archibald, Northern Area Manager for Redexim Charterhouse who also spent eight years on the ground staff at Murrayfield Stadium, takes a look at why early season aeration is both essential and beneficial.
He says, "Using a Verti-Drain for spring aeration will keep the top surface open, enable the natural drainage system to work to its full potential as well as enhancing grass root formation. Aerating is one of the single most important aspects of the annual maintenance process. Aeration of the soil is vital to encourage a good sward, relieve compaction caused by maintenance machinery or player traffic and encourage essential oxygen and water infiltration. It will also help to reduce the build-up of organic matter and thatch in the upper profile or 'capping layer'.
Playability and soil structure will be enhanced, which in turn promotes quick drying turf. Improved absorption of water from the surface to the drainage system will also help prevent any potential future surface water problems.
While, in theory, the early months of the year are the optimum time-frame to aerate playing surfaces, there can be a number of conditions that can affect how and when it is to be carried out. Knowing when to get to work with your Verti-Drain and to what degree is key to a successful outcome. Early months can mean that frosts and excessive moisture can still be issues to contend with and have the potential to damage equipment and playing surfaces. Certainly if there is excessive standing water the use of ground engaging machinery can do more harm than good and should be avoided. Frost or excessive water content should influence what action is taken and one option is to use smaller tines or slitting.
It has been proven time and time again that compacted and poorly drained soil can be dramatically improved by using your Verti-Drain with solid tines penetrating the soil, sometimes to a depth of 400mm (16") to break through any pan which may exist. When fully in the soil the tine is cranked backwards using a system of levers, breaking up any compaction and in the process, opening up the soil, making it possible for air and oxygen to move freely once again. Based on the prevailing surface condition and as the operating system of the Verti-Drain is precise, it can be adjusted.
A range of tine size is available and heave can be graduated up to an angle of 65°. Operating speed can be varied and the rear roller ensures minimal surface disruption. The result - water is able to drain away and most important of all, grass roots can reach down into the soil creating strong plants which have the ability to withstand drought, hard play and stave off attack from pests and diseases."
Top Image: Dougie Archibald, Northern Area Manager for Redexim Charterhouse