Cowan Creek Soil Profile Update
Prepared by: Craig Loving
Cowan Creek Superintendent
Last week, all three courses had soil samples taken from several of our greens for fertility analysis. We do this periodically to see what nutrients are available to the plant in the soil profile, as well as in the plant tissue. We also run tests on our irrigation water to determine how many salts and bicarbonates we are dealing with. The results from these tests allow us to make adjustments in our fertility program to promote optimal growth and maintain a healthy root system. We purposely took samples from #9 green at Cowan to see how it has responded to our new technique of providing sub-surface airflow to the rootzone. The plugs taken from each sample are 1.25” in diameter and 6” deep. The following diagrams will detail where we currently stand in our soil profile, and what progress we’ve made with this year’s cultural practices.
Both of these pictures were taken from the same plug. “photo B” shows the profile intact with soil that the roots are holding, and “photo A” has the soil knocked off so we can see the root system. The lengths of the roots are approximately around 4”, which is relatively good for mini-verde greens. The light color of the feeder roots indicates that they are healthy. The only existing concern is in “photo B” from the 1”-1.5” depth in the profile. This area is still anaerobic, which can prohibit air and water movement through the soil profile. The anaerobic area is, however, much smaller than it once was earlier in the year. In addition, the roots are thriving below the anaerobic area, which demonstrates the positive effect of our new practice of blowing air into the drainage system and up through the rootzone from below.
The plug in the above picture was also taken from #9 green. This photo signifies the importance of routine aerifications. The darker area is a cross section of an aerification channel from a ½” hollow tine. Below and along the side of this channel, feeder roots are actively growing. As you can see, the root system is much healthier in an environment that provides adequate air flow and water infiltration. If you scroll up and look at “photo A”, you will notice that the roots along the left side of the plug are much longer than on the right side. This was more than likely due to another aerification channel in that area.
As we transition into the cooler months of the year, we will alter our fertility program accordingly (based on our soil sample results) to promote healthy root growth throughout the winter. In addition, we will continue to implement non-aggressive cultural practices (star-tine aerifications) to provide more channels for air and water movement through the soil profile without effecting playability.