Aeration benefits from leaf to root and beyond, is a topically look at aeration and ties into our #aneedtobreathe week, promoting all things aeration by our community.In this insightful blog Alex looks a little deeper into the outcomes of aeration.
It’s becoming such a common practice within the turf care industry is our punchy friend aeration, something that is pleasing to see, especially at lower levels. Its benefits have been realised by people at every level of turf-based sport within the UK. That it needs to be invested in by clubs, as the rewards sometimes saves a lot of money in lost revenue amongst other things.
Timing is key!
Timing, as we know with aeration, is probably the key to receiving maximum benefits for as long as is possible. Punching holes into perfectly soft material is always likely to produce deeper penetration across each tine. A better angle for the tines to go in at allowing for ‘heave’ to be applied to create breaks across profiles. When soil conditions are drier, usually August and/or Sept but until the end of October this year! This almost cements each tine hole in place allowing for a longer lasting impact.
Whilst all that is great regarding timing, I wanted to show you the benefits far too many groundsmen don’t show enough interest in the roots. The hidden benefits of deep tine aeration in particular, is that it often creates levels and space deeper than the roots were currently, meaning they have further to reach and grow.
Its all in the roots
The longer and thicker the roots, the healthier the leaf will be that we all see on the top, that’s a fact. The roots are literally the biscuit base to the cheesecake, the flake to our 99-ice cream and the scone with our jam and cream. Our long, twisting and winding friends are vital to the green product above and the deeper the tine aeration the more space they have to live, grow and thus, thrive.
Sticking with deep tine aeration for a point more. I wanted to highlight the “knitting” process (as I’m calling it) that deep tine aeration, along with a fertiliser programme can create. Think of the set of tines on Redexim’s Vertidrain 7626, the biggest in their range. That’s a full 20 tines going in at in and around 2mm spacings, creating the same depth in every single one of those holes it punches. Now imagine if you could see it from underneath the ground, the close proximity of each tine hole creates a channel for roots to run too every single time.
This allows for an underworld of wire like roots, creating their own system where eyes can’t see! If the profiles below are soft enough roots often intertwine deep beneath the surface creating the knitting effect, I’m referring to across tine holes. Roots intertwining deep down only create more security for the plant and a hardier leaf above.
Roots really are fascinating if you give them the time, I’m not that sad honestly! The way they work is quite detailed and like nothing else on the planet. They are the hardiest part of every plant and will often be the most vital. Allowing roots to have freedom within the profiles below the surface is vital to better drainage, root growth and the sward throughout the period those tine holes stay open. It’s not secret those areas of turf well maintained with various forms of aeration are often the healthier, better looking pitches when done alongside fertiliser.
Shallower forms of Aeration
Even much shallower aeration designed for cricket squares, golf greens and bowling greens such as coring or pencil tining, provide some equally good results for the roots. With cricket squares, bowling greens and golf greens we tend not to want to be so aggressive as you would with a winter sports pitch e.g., a football pitch, so a 16inch solid tine is no good here. Instead, greenkeepers at golf courses often opt for a pencil tine or, if money allows, a hollow tine (hollow coring) which produces holes, which are filled up again with sand.
This is a really good way of getting good materials as deep as possible into the profile, whilst it also allows each hole to stay open longer with the porous benefits of the sand but it’s compactness to hold together. Pencil tining effectively is as the name suggests, a thinner, pencil like tine which can reach the same depths in some cases as the 16-inch solid tine. It still creates that all important depth and breaks the levels up for aeration and drainage.
Using pencil tines is often a lot less invasive to a pitch, meaning the chances of plucking are minimised and the finish is a lot smoother on the surface than that of a thicker tine or even a hollow tine. A pencil tine does give the smoothest finish of all Which is why it is favoured on cricket squares, bowling greens and golf greens where the run/impact of the ball is key.
Overlooked and not prioritised, aeration used to be seen as a luxury to most, but it’s upturn in importance is allowing grounds people at every level the chance at a better standard of pitch. England and the UK in general is barely dry in winter, but aerating often combats a good part of that wet weather.
If done often enough and at the right times of year cricket outfields take a lot of traffic and weight throughout a cricket season, aerating them and breaking up that compaction in Sept-March often allows for a greener outfield that copes with downpours better and holds its colour longer in warmer spells.
Roots and aeration are most definitely a match made in turf world heaven, the two create some brilliantly fascinating results as we hope we have shown you with the images in this article.
If you wanted to read on more, sports specific aeration, then take a look at this blog – https://turfcareblog.com/guidance-on-the-aeration-of-sports-pitches/
If all you have is a fork, don’t worry you can still make a impact, even if just to small high wear areas.
Just a few bullet points to finish, based on our community engagement this week
- Timing is everything, don’t aerate when the soil, caps/seals/spears.
- Vary depth of aeration and methods, sport and circumstances dependent.
- Aim of aeration is to create pore spaces in the soil.
- Key- The right timing, the right machine in the right conditions.
Alex Fitzgerald on behalf of the TurfCareBlog Community
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