A Course Manager’s role varies from day to day. One of the most fun aspects is assessing the surfaces and collating performance in order to select what cultural practices will come together in order to maximize the performance of the turf.
Today was no exception, when mixing fertiliser, the beauty of applying nutrients in liquid form is the fact that you can adjust rates of each product to suit the needs of the surfaces at that particular time. In this mix we applied Primo at a 150% more than usual to burn off poa seed heads and slow growth, pushing the grass plant out to create better cover. The Praxys in the mix is a herbicide to kill any new pearlwort weeds that are coming through. Consolidate is a fertiliser that has a nirtogen source that gives the plant food very subtly and steady over a longer period of time, SOA or Sulphate of Ammonia is a nitrogen source that gives the plant a quick feed, Elevate Fe is a liquid iron and nitrogen that is available fast and gives the grass plant colour via Iron, all of these fertilisers are all spoon fed, which means they offer very small amounts of food to the plant, in this instance 4kg of Nitrogen over 1 hectare (roughly the size of a football pitch), we aim for around 50kg a year. The note below would be a typical note passed on to the spray technician on the morning of the application.
Performance testing is something that has been touched on during previous blog posts. Every year we have our organic matter levels tested around now, the cores are sent off to the labs at the STRI (Sports Turf Research Institute) and the results come back along with a visit from them in July. We have steadily reduced levels of organic matter by around 1% a year, 4 years ago we were as high as 10% OM in the top 20mm which causes all sorts of problems: soft greens, poor drainage, disease, poor roll, too much poa annua amongst other things. We are aiming to hit targets of around 4% so there is still some way to go with greens averaging around 6.4%. We do feel that the more we decrease the organic matter the better the greens become. We do this through applying topdressing. the levels could have been reduced a lot sooner however we do have a busy diary and we feel that is important not to disrupt golf too much with heavy sand applications, we are a golf course at the end of the day. a wet winter and spring could well mean that we haven’t reduced OM quite as much as we would have liked however we will keep up the same strategy as it has been successful so far.
The greens that we test are the putting green, 6,15,18. Along with this we test speed, moisture, smoothness and firmness each month and the data is recorded to see how they are progressing.
The spreadsheet shows us the month of May. It is evident that the 15th and 18th greens are a little behind when it comes to reducing the OM however they are performing well in other areas. The spreadsheet has been set up using conditional formatting so certain numbers create coloured boxes which makes it easy to see how good or how bad something is.
These targets change with the seasons, for example, it would be unrealistic to be looking for the same firmness in January which is generally a wet month with short days and very little evaporation, to that of August which is generally very dry.