0 Looking past the floods to drought!

We have all been dealing with the effects of the flooding and the continued and prolonged cold spell. This has caused many problems for turf managers across our industry, but maybe now is the time to look beyond this period and address the conditions that will be left after the water has gone.

The experts tell us that it will take up to four weeks of drying, with no rain, to dry the ground out. This prolonged period of evapotranspiration (ET) - the loss of water to the atmosphere by the combined processes of evaporation (from soil and plant surfaces) and transpiration (from plant tissues) - is a vital part of the recovery.

ET, when measured, also provides turf managers with an indicator of how much water the grass and plants need for healthy growth and productivity

Past experience has taught us that, after prolonged saturation, the ground will be even more compact after it dries out and will need to be treated by shockwaving, verti-draining etc. However, to reach and shatter deep-seated hard pan formations in the soil, other methods, such as compressed air injection, are recommended first.

There are several air pressure machines available for tackling deep compaction, including the long established Terrain Aeration models, the Gwazae from Kensett Sports and the latest of them all, the Air 2G2 from Campey Turf Care Systems.

Any poor soil condition on and around golf greens, walkways, professional football pitches and bowling greens caused by drought, excessive root encroachment, flooding or general over use of the surface can be effectively treated with compressed air.

It works on the principle of injecting compressed air vertically and horizontally over an area of approximately 5ft (1.5m) to 12" (35cms) deep (depending upon probe fitting). This causes a fracturing effect of the compacted rootzone, with no surface disruption. Play on pitches, greens and fairways, tees and around bunkers can be resumed immediately following the treatment.

The benefits include improved growth in the rootzone through good microbiotic activity. Better drainage and aeration provides a more efficient take-up of nutrients and moisture that will have long term beneficial effects to the soil structure and health of the grass.

"Research has already shown that injecting pressurised air into compacted areas, followed by 'shockwaving' or 'vertidraining' can produce tremendous results.

On the other hand, these wet weather conditions may well continue into the spring.

In which case groundsmen will need to consider installing additional drainage lines to take the excess water away.

The Imants Shockwave linear decompactor has been used to great effect even during wet conditions to remove surface water by relieving soil compaction.

Whether working in isolation or in conjunction with existing pipe drainage schemes, this is one method of draining water quickly and unhindered to the existing sub-surface systems. It also leaves a continuous slit, allowing the operator to connect to drains, ditches or other water collection systems.

Many contractors have already kitted themselves out with new drainage equipment in anticipation of future work.

For those groundsmen and greenkeepers who want to manage their own drainage programmes, there are a number of options for sand banding/slitting and trenching which give them the freedom to target trouble spots as soon as the ground is good to work on.

For more information visit www.campeyturfcare.com
www.terrainaeration.com
www.kensettsports.co.uk

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