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TURF TALK: Greens Aerification

What’s the Science?

One of the biggest questions regarding greens aerification is “what is the purpose of it”? Let’s discuss the science behind greens aerification, and why it is beneficial for the long term health of the greens.

As greens age, they are constantly accumulating a layer of organic material (old plant material) between the soil surface and putting surface. This accumulation of material, called thatch, creates a sponge like consistency which negatively affects the plant as well as the performance of the green (speed and firmness). An increase in thatch makes the plant more susceptible to diseases by retaining water, and negatively affects the playability by making the greens soft. Aerification is an effective way to reduce the amount of thatch that accumulates over time. Although there may seem to be holes covering the putting surface, only about 10% of the turf is impacted. Reducing the thatch layer through Aerification, verticutting and topdressing will result in firmer, smoother greens.

Thatch management is only one of the many benefits of aerification. During the process of aerification, a heavy layer of sand is distributed across the green. The sand is used to fill the holes and make the putting surface smooth again, but there is a significant benefit from applying the sand. The newly applied sand will help create new channels for air, water, and nutrients to get down into the rootzone of the plant. This will increase the root length, ultimately leading to a stronger, healthier plant.

Aerification is not a celebrated process for any golf enthusiast, but it is very beneficial to the long term health and playability of the putting surfaces.

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