Wednesday, October 19, 2011

White Powder

I am not talking about the fresh powder in Tahoe and I am not recalling the eighties, but rather our fairway's that have had gypsum applied to them.  This year I purchased agriculture quality (cheaper) gypsum and it is a little more messy than prilled gypsum.  The white powder are the fines that don't spread as far as the granular.  That is why we have white stripes.  After irrigation, the white lines will dissipate.

When we apply gypsum, I am looking at three benefits;  removing sodium  (salts),  improve soil structure and increase nutrient retention.  There are many more benefits, but these are what I am most interested in.  

We get sodium in the soil thanks to our water supply.  While our supply isn't loaded with salts like some other courses, we still have to deal with them.  When salts accumulate in the soil, the soil becomes hydrophobic.  This  makes it extremely difficult to keep the soil profile moist and hence, keep the grass alive.  The calcium that makes up gypsum will replace the sodium within the soil and with sufficient water, the sodium will be flushed through.  This in turn also improves soil structure.

Gypsum is also good for nutrient retention which means fertilizers that are applied will last longer.  This can be seen when you look at the difference between our roughs and fairways.  The fairways will hold color longer than the rough because they have been on a regular gypsum program.  This year for the first time we are putting gypsum in the rough to help improve the quality.   

This is one of the first programs I  re-started at Cinnabar and and it has made a huge difference in fairway quality.  It took almost 4 years to build calcium levels up and the results have been outstanding.