SportsTurf provides current, practical and technical content on issues relevant to sports turf managers, including facilities managers. Most readers are athletic field managers from the professional level through parks and recreation, universities.
Issue link: http://read.dmtmag.com/i/791889
STMA IN ACTION News from the Sports Turf Managers Association 34 SportsTurf | March 2017 www.sportsturfonline.com TOOLS & EQUIPMENT AERATING MADE EASIER Editor's note: This article was written by Gail Trudeau, marketing manager at Billy Goat Industries, Lee's Summit, MO. A re you aerating your sports fields and high traffic grass areas often enough? From sports fields, practice facilities to grassy areas that receive a lot of foot traffic, soil compaction can have a significant impact on the health of your turf, and aerating is the best and most cost-effective way of dealing with it. Aerating helps to get oxygen and moisture to the root bed of your turf, and it allows carbon dioxide to escape. These benefits will help keep your grass healthier and greener all season long. Whether you're responsible for maintaining turf at city parks, schools, university or professional stadiums, aerating shouldn't be viewed as only a spring and fall activity. As campus grounds supervisor at Penn State University, Matthew Wolf knows how important aerating is for turf health. "My philosophy is you can never aerate too much," Wolf explains. "In clay-dense and highly compacted areas, turf managers spend a bunch of time and money trying to produce healthy green grass. Unfortunately, a lot of these fixes are just temporary. A consistent schedule of aerating will often provide better results that last." TROUBLE WITH EQUIPMENT For many turf managers, there just is not enough time in the day to aerate as often as they would like to. For example, drum style walk behind or towable aeration can be slow and labor intensive. "Drum aerators have been around for decades," says Pierre Pereira, director of sales, North America, at Billy Goat Industries. "They are a good option for residential work. However, turf managers can waste time going over a field multiple times to achieve the hole density they want. There are also inconsistencies in hole depth with these traditional units because they depend upon ground moisture to help the tines reach their maximum depth." Better aerating options like high-end, deep tine aerators are typically found at professional sports fields. These units can be more expensive for many budgets and may not hold up as well under the normal ground conditions found on recreational fields and parks. To meet the need for a better and more cost-efficient way of aerating, some manufacturers have introduced reciprocating aerators. This category uses a reciprocating camshaft that drives tines up and down into the soil, similar to what is found on deep tine machines at a more economical price point. "Reciprocating aerators produce a denser hole pattern than drum units," says Pereira. "This means the operator can punch more holes in the soil on a single pass than they could in multiple passes using a drum aerator." Wolf and his team made the switch from drum aerators to a reciprocating aerator in 2015. "I wasn't happy with the amount of labor and end results that our old walk-behind and pull-behind drum units were producing," he says. "When I had the chance to demo this reciprocating unit, I was immediately impressed with the results. It delivered the type of quality I used to get from common golf course aerators that I used as a golf course superintendent, but holds up better in harder and rockier soils." "Unlike traditional aerators, the camshaft and drive speed are independent of each other on the Billy Goat reciprocating aerator," says Pereira. "This gives the operator the ability to vary the hole density at different speeds. For standard aerating, that unit produces 8 holes per square feet at 4 mph (typically 2x as dense as a drum). For thinning, Matthew Wolf