PACE Turf - Turfgrass Information Center

Precision Turf Management

Evaluation of the Geonics EM38 for soil moisture assessment

Summary: The success of a turfgrass track lies in the balance between soil conditions that are ideal for horse racing balanced against the needs of the turfgrass plant. One of the most critical components of this complex soil-turf-horse system is soil moisture. Frequently, the high soil moisture conditions that favor ideal turfgrass growth results in conditions that are too wet and slow for ideal racing and horse safety. Conversely, dry conditions that favor racing may be too dry for uniform turfgrass growth and development. Under optimum conditions, the root zone would maintain constant soil strength regardless of soil moisture conditions. However, until that perfect root zone is identified, soil moisture will be a critical component of turfgrass track maintenance, safety and success.

The results provided here suggest that soil moisture measurement using a Geonics EM38 might provide assistance in delivering more uniform soil moisture conditions at the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club (DMTC). Further research is need to confirm that the EM38 readings predict the track performance as evaluated by horse traffic or using mechanical hoof developed by Dr. Michael Peterson.

Full print version of report (680 KB)

Investigator: Larry J. Stowell, Ph.D., CPPP, CPAg

Cooperator: Leif Dickinson, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club

Greens Firmness Management Project

Summary: On January 23, 2006, Santa Ana Country Club and the PACE Turfgrass Research Institute embarked on a multi-month study to study the issue of greens firmness by characterizing the current situation and then identifying management practices that can help to achieve more consistent greens firmness throughout the year. Factors contributing to greens firmness were identified, with soil moisture a key component. Greens were characterized by golfers as performing well, with good surface firmness, on the 1/23/06 evaluation date. Based on data collected 1/23/06, a tentative range of 15 – 25% soil moisture was identified as the target for producing optimal levels of firmness (tentatively characterized as ranging from 70 – 125g on a Clegg meter).

Full print version of report (460 KB)

Investigator: Larry J. Stowell, Ph.D., CPPP, CPAg

Cooperator: David Zahrte, CGCS, Santa Ana Country Club

Precision Management Tools

There are many vendors who supply various tools to aid in precision management. The first and probably most important tool is a composition notebook or other notebook that you are comfortable recording information in on a daily basis. No matter how computer oriented you are, a simple notebook and an indelible pen can be the most reliable method of maintaining a record or observations. The list of products below are those that we have had a chance to work with ourselves and feel that they do a good job measuring or recording events. There are many more to choose from by simply searching the web.

Global Positioning System Receiver (GPS):

There are many options in this area but we encourage you to look for a receiver that has both WAAS and Beacon differential GPS capabilities and sub-meter resolution. If these descriptions sound like Greek to you, read-up before purchasing a piece of equipment. One site to find some background information is the Trimble Navigation web page. Do not scrimp on this purchase if you intend to get started. Poorly designed equipment will only waste your time and discourage you from pursuing precision management to its fullest extent.

A Trimble sub-meter GPS unit and backpack will run about $5000 (Trimble Pathfinder Pro XRS Field Kit Part Number: 50355-50). A ruggedized computer will also be necessary, and will cost about $1600 (Trimble Recon 400 Part Number: 49670-20). To order the equipment, check the Trimble Navigation web page for a distributor near you.

Geographic Information System (GIS) Software:

You have already invested almost $7000 in just the GPS equipment, but without the software, nothing will happen. The news is slightly easier to swallow for the entry-level GIS software - the tool that you will use to develop maps of areas, management zones, and observations such as pest levels for use in IPM programs. To get started with GIS, we recommend a software package written by Richard Herrington at StarPal. The version of the program we use is HGIS (Handheld Geographic Information System) Professional including SensorTrack. You will immediately begin to collect course location data with the GPS/GIS system described here. Although HGIS is limited in presentation capabilities, it is fairly easy to use and will provide you with immediate measurements for length, area, and the ability to record comments with each entry.

Page 4 of 4 pages ‹ First  < 2 3 4

Visit PACE Turf on Facebook! Visit PACE Turf on YouTube! Follow PACE Turf on Twitter!