Our fall core aeration has come and gone in the blink of an eye. I've talked in the past of continually changing our strategies based on what the greens tell or show us and this year is no different. The hole pattern is the same as years past: a core that is 0.4" diameter on 1.5" x 1.25" spacing. We also use the deep tine aerator that goes 8" deep after the sand was applied like years past.
What was different this year is that we have abandoned using the blower to fill the holes with sand. While blowing the sand into the holes provides a cleaner playing surface, we lose the opportunity to further dilute the thatch layer by leaving more sand on top. Instead of the blower we use a metal mat and a mechanical brush to work the sand into the holes. It does beat the greens up more than the blower, but the extra sand on the surface makes it worthwhile.
Dragging the sand in allowed me to change our fertilizer strategy as well. Instead of applying the follow up organic fertilizer after the aeration holes had been filled, we applied while the holes were open allowing the fertilizer to get dragged into the soil. I also used a new fertilizer that smells much better than the normal chicken manure that we typically use. The fertilizer is blended locally and is called ProBiotic 1G which is designed with the soil food web theory in mind.
It's got one of the oddest list of products in it that I've ever used, but it works after 3 years of testing on the practice green. It is composed of raisin stems, urea, alfalfa meal, soybean meal, rice bran, potassium sulfate, kelp meal, ferrous sulfate, lignosulfonate, humic acid, and a wetting agent. It's got a nice sweet smell that you know will get the soil biology going.
The holes are now filled in and we will work on getting their speed back over the next month. In the meantime enjoy less break in the greens and a low total putt round. Who knows, you may lower your course best or even break par!
The pictures above are just 7 days after aerating.