Aerification and Topdressing Can Improve Turf Quality on Effluent Use Sites

The increased use of effluent (synonyms: treated, recycled, treated sewage effluent) water as an irrigation source for turf has increased the importance of cultural practices in maintaining a healthy turf. Most effluent water has elevated levels of sodium, soluble salts, bicarbonates, and metals.

Photograph 1. Deep tine aerificaton is possible is recommended 1 to 2 times a year. Sand topdressing is a desirable part of maintaining turf irrigated with effluent.

Although management practices can vary from region to region, and levels can vary with effluent water, there are some general practices that can alleviate associated problems. Two cultural or mechanical practices that are important are aerification (coring) and sand topdressing.

Spring is the most important time to core cultivate turf sites using effluent water. Coring helps provide a healthier environment of turf growth going into the summer. Given the negative impact of effluent water on soil structure and properties, as a general rule you need an average of three (3) extra corings a year on putting greens. And on fairways, an additional two (2) corings would be recommended.

Spring coring helps enhance water movement through the turf; especially if leaching practices will be done in the summer. If allowable a deep-tine aerification should be done in the spring (and fall) to allow for gypsum applications to be moved down into the rootzone. Deep-tine aerification is time consuming and expensive especially on fairways. The cost is approximately 11,000 dollars (US) (Goss, 2008).

Photograph 2. Fairway sand topdressing is increasing in popularity to provide better playing characteristics including a firmer surface during leaching periods.

In the United States golf course (and athletic fields) fairways are increasingly being sand topdressed. Although not a requirement, sand topdressing effluent sites can potentially improve water removal and provide a firmer year-round playing surface; especially where leaching practices are done to move salts through the soil profile.

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