Aeration is a topic that all Greenkeepers are concerned with, especially doing it properly.  Dougie Archibald of Charterhouse Turf Machinery says it’s something that shouldn’t be approached with complacency and explains the machinery alternatives, and different approaches, that should be taken depending on the desired outcome or time of year. 

Demands placed on golf courses have never been higher; which makes an effective aeration and maintenance regime even more essential.  We all know about Verti-Draining and its benefits, but using your Verti-Drain should be seen as a year-round activity. Using the Verti-Drain™ with a range of different tine options can make the most of deeper work done during the autumn and winter months. Micro-tining can be employed during drier weather to help keep the surface from “capping” over and allow surface water a path down through the profile – maintaining healthier top growth.

At Sheringham Golf Club, their Verti-Drain has been a fundamental part of the maintenance regime for many years. When they hired the assistance of a new course consultant, Head Greenkeeper David Childs was recommended to look into a pedestrian aerator as a way of improving aeration on their greens. “We looked at the Redexim Carrier with the Verti-Drain 1513 and found that this power unit, when compared to others, gave us fantastic speed between greens and allowed the attached Verti-Drain to work at great depth. Another important factor is that with the Carrier, the entire unit leaves a much smaller footprint. As we only have one tractor, using the Carrier with the Verti-Drain for aeration effectively frees the tractor up for other jobs. We are pleased to have added it to our machinery fleet and aim to use the Carrier with the Verti-Drain on the greens, tees and approaches at least once a month.”

Dougie says another process to think about is linear aeration using something like the Redexim range of Verti-Quake™ aerators. These are available in a range of working widths and perform the majority of their work under the surface by means of fissuring and the breaking up of the soil profile. This allows channels for water and moisture to travel through the soil and link up with the deeper Verti-Drain™ work. The unique make-up of the Verti-Quake™ range, with its wave action which shatters soil laterally, allows for almost zero surface disruption meaning the turf is able to accommodate play immediately.

Another complimentary aeration technique and machine is the Redexim Verti-Knife™. This machine comes fitted with either two rows of mini discs, ideal for close intensive work on greens or tees, or larger discs ideal for fairways and wider areas where extra depth can be achieved. Whatever disc size is chosen, the Verti-Knife™ works by keeping the crucial top section of the profile open permitting gaseous exchange to take place, as well as the movement of surface water and nutrients throughout the critical root zone. It also discourages moss and lichen growth in shaded areas. The Verti-Knife™ cuts through lateral growth and prevents any lasting graining to provide a more uniform and true playing surface. This care of the top 20mm will discourage the establishment of excess organic matter, which in turn makes all your other aeration work much more effective.

This time of the year is also the ideal time to start thinking about using the Graden Contour Sand Injector to invigorate and revitalise fine turf in preparation for a very busy season. The CSI removes excess organic matter and backfills with kiln dried sand and your choice of seed mix to immediately give a surface that is stable and firm, significantly better draining with greatly improved airflow and a perfect growing medium for fresh, strong and vibrant re-growth. Using the Graden CSI along with the Verti-Drain, Verti-Quake and Verti-Knife gives a concise and complete aeration and renovation programme for the entire soil profile. A considered and well thought out approach to aeration will pay dividends year in year out.