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Soil Compaction: A Case Study at Candlewood Country Club

Summary: One method of measuring soil compaction, or strength, entails recording the pressure needed to force a rod (cone tip penetrometer) into a soil.  If the soil provides resistance of more than 300-400 psi, plant roots have difficulty or are unable to penetrate the soil. For this reason, plant roots are frequently found only in the top 2 3” of soil, where compaction is usually less than 300 psi. In this study, readings taken inside the sand-filled vertidrain holes, one day after vertidrain treatment showed that the vertidrain reduced compaction at depths of 3 - 5” from about 500 psi to less than 400 psi (Figure 1).  Five weeks later, we went back to evaluate compaction again, but it was difficult to identify vertidrain holes.  For this reason, the readings we obtained (Figure 2) were probably taken from areas between holes. As expected, readings remained unchanged at 500 psi at depths of 3 - 5”.  It is likely, however, that the compaction level in the vertidrain holes remained below 400 psi.  The common observation of deep roots in vertidrain holes supports this hypothesis. An additional advantage of vertidraining may be improved water infiltration. Even though compaction was not relieved in general throughout the green, the greens take water well in the summer indicating that water infiltration is one of the greatest benefits of this method.

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Principal Investigator:  Larry Stowell, Ph.D., CPAg

Cooperator:  Mike Caranci, Candlewood Country Club

Sponsor:  PACE Turfgrass Research Institute

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