Golf Course Management

JUL 2019

Golf Course Management magazine is dedicated to advancing the golf course superintendent profession and helping GCSAA members achieve career success.

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42 GOLF COURSE MANAGEMENT 07.19 green health and hand-watering efficiency. In fact, these meters were responsible for the de- velopment of the Gadgets and Gizmos semi- nar. We had been using them to evaluate wet- ting agent research trials since the mid-2000s and quickly realized how useful they could be in the hands of golf course superintendents. •is got us to thinking that there were prob- ably many other research tools that had po- tential utility in golf course management, and wouldn't it be fun to acquire as many of these gadgets as possible and play with them at the Golf Industry Show? When we talk about moisture meters, what exactly are we referring to? •ese are meters such as time domain reflectometers (TDR) that measure the dielectric constant of the soil to estimate its water content. Unless you're a physicist, the only thing you need to know about a soil's dielectric constant is that it is highly correlated to soil water content. •erefore, measuring a soil's dielectric con- stant makes it possible to estimate soil water content accurately. Moisture meters are portable and accurate, and they aren't affected by minor fluctuations in root-zone salinity. Convenience and qual- ity come with a price tag, however, and meters Checking trouble spots with a moisture read- ing in the early morning allows for precise hand watering and ideal root-zone moisture throughout the day. Photos by Doug Karcher range from $1,000 to $2,500 depending on added features such as data logging, mapping and simultaneous measurement of other pa- rameters, like temperature and salinity. Don't let sticker shock drive you away from embrac- ing this technology, however, as return on in- vestment is typically quick, especially at facili- ties that require regular hand-watering. Soil water potential vs. water content •e key to getting the most bang for your moisture meter buck is to calibrate it for your specific greens. We're often asked, "What number should I be looking for on my meter?" Such a question is impossible to answer be- cause turf drought stress is related to the water potential of the root zone, not the water con- tent. Soil water potential is essentially the force required to move water from the soil into turf roots. •is can be a confusing concept because it often involves large negative values with un- familiar units — "–1,000 kilopascals," for ex- ample. What the heck is a negative kilopascal? A kilopascal is simply a metric unit of pressure and can be converted to pounds/square inch (PSI), just as centimeters can be converted to inches. Water potential values are negative be-

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