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Turf Technology

SubAir systems perform at the Masters 2020

SubAir systems perform at the Masters 2020 1920 1080 james.bernhard

SubAir at the Masters 2020

One challenge greenkeepers and ground staff must overcome is how to keep their course, pitch and turf playable during seasons when there are large amounts of rainfall. Sports turf getting soaked can affect games, competitions and tournaments so a lot of stress is pushed on to the turf maintenance teams to ensure they make the turf playable. Previously this was a massive headache for grounds teams, however they now have the ability to fight back thanks to SubAir systems.

A SubAir system is a product that has been created, by compiling a series of pumps and blowers that connect with the drainage system below the turf. To fully reap the benefits of the SubAir system, an underground drainage system needs to be constructed “USGA spec green” with a main pipe and a series of lateral tributary pipes feeding into it underneath the surface. These pipes can then work in synergy, gathering excess water from the turf and then pumping and blowing it to a nearby exit area or drain.

Once the system has been activated, it acts as a vacuum and pulls air and water from the turf much quicker. If there is a need to pull a lot of water off the turf then additional pumps and mechanisms can be added to pull it even quicker and further away from the area.

A pressure mode feature is also incorporated into the SubAir system, which can force air into the pipes and therefore into the soil and root systems of the turf. This can aid turf management teams to monitor the temperature of the sports turf without needing to interrupt any play.

In 2001, Augusta National Golf Club was the first club to install a SubAir system into their 13th green but now, 20 years later, all greens are incorporated with the system to better manage the turf in relation to air, temperature and water. The system is proving once again very useful in this year’s exceptional edition of the Masters.

Since then, many other golf courses now have SubAir systems on their golf courses including Pebble Beach Golf Links. Other sports and stadiums have also incorporated SubAir systems underneath their turf including The Philadelphia Phillies (Baseball), Wembley Stadium (football, also know as soccer) and New England Patriots (American Football).

New technologies for better turf management

New technologies for better turf management 600 600 Angelique Crosnier

Embracing new technologies for better turf management

Bernhard and Company has upgraded its range of sharpening systems with equipment packed with the latest technologies. Recent industry tradeshows saw the grinder manufacturer launch several exciting new machines, including the top-of-the-range Anglemaster 4500 and the Express Dual 5500.

As a result, the ever-reliable brand is now providing sports turf specialists with the tools to achieve accuracy, precision and – more importantly – consistency at every cut.

But what can be so exciting about a bedknife or a reel grinder?

Time to get smart

The new features include smart motors. These high torque, load sensing motors with integrated position feedback give users total control and flexibility on how they want to sharpen their mowing equipment. The Anglemaster 4500 now benefits from variable grind motor and traverse motor speeds, allowing the machines to be totally adaptable to the type of blades being sharpened. Having flexibility in motor speed enables the user to optimise the speed of grind according to the type of stone chosen.

This, in conjunction with RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology, delivers consistency – no matter who uses the equipment.

How RFID technology works

RFID is an easy way to assign a unique identity to an object, meaning that each individual user can have their own settings programmed into a card no bigger than a credit card. The settings of each mower can also be uploaded onto the card, making it easy to recall previous settings and keeping consistently sharpened mowers to the same specification. This means that turf/equipment managers can ensure the quality of cut is consistent without having to intervene, so even a newly trained user with little experience of sharpening will be able to achieve the highest quality expected.

This feature is standard in the Anglemaster 4500 and Express Dual 5500. Another feature that generated a lot of excitement at the Golf Industry Show was the laser surveying device on the Express Dual 5500.

Benefits of laser measurement

Laser measuring has been used for many years in the aerospace and automotive industry to measure large parts and assemblies as well as improving industrial robot accuracy and precision.

Why would a laser measuring device be used in a grinder though?

The laser surveying unit is used to highlight deformation and dynamic measurement. This is important because some modern-day cutting units rely on the cylinder to bedknife being parallel within very tight tolerances to ensure optimum performance.

During continuous mowing or backlapping, the cylinder can be subject to ‘coning’. This can only be corrected through precise grinding. The Bernhard laser surveying device will measure the cylinder to highlight any coning, hence allowing the grinder to remove the taper out of the cylinder with an optimised grind cycle.

In the scanning process, the laser will also measure the outer diameter of the reel. This gives the operator reassurance that the cylinders are within the manufacturer’s recommended specifications.

The combination of this unique technology makes the Bernhard sharpening systems the most innovative systems yet.

Lack of air movement and high temperatures on turf

Lack of air movement and high temperatures on turf 600 600 Angelique Crosnier

The problem with lack of air movement and high temperatures on turf

There are hundreds of turf varieties out there, but no matter how strong, they are all susceptible to suffer from heat stress.

When we talk about the subject it is easy to believe that it is a problem limited only to the southern areas of the world, but truth is that cool season grasses can suffer even during mild weather, once that on sunny days canopy or leaf temperatures can be 9°C higher than the environment temperature, depending on the soil characteristics. Bentgrass for example, has a net energy loss when soil temperatures rise above 30°C, so if the sun is high and the air temperature is above 21°C, which can happen even in northern parts of England, we could see some loss of functionality of both roots and leaves of the plant.

When a green’s subsoil temperature reaches high levels, grass roots begin to shrink, root growth rates decrease, turf begins to thin and large patches of brown or white turf begin to appear until the plant dies. The cause of death is a process called “denaturation”, which is the destruction of enzymes situated inside the plants cells by the heat.

The lack of air movement will cause stress not only for the plant but also the grounds keeper. Whether in a pocketed green surrounded by trees, or in a stadium pitch enclosed by bleachers, air is a major factor limiting turf health. If grass is not transpiring correctly, it will not be able to cool itself down, reducing the plant physiological abilities to recover and increasing the susceptibility for diseases. Let’s also remember that dew and humidity allowed on the sward for prolonged periods is a strong factor for the development of algae issues.

Heat stress and Summer Bentgrass Decline (SBD) used to be great concerns on turfgrass management before the use of turf fans.

What is a turf fan?

There are different types of turf fans and they have evolved considerably since they first started being used on sports fields. Caged, oscillating, or turbo are the most common ones observed, oscillating being considered the most beneficial for turf care. They have been developed to provide good airflow on the surface. The wind blowing on the grass helps the evapotranspiration process, cooling down the canopy and reducing soil temperatures, keeping humidity controlled and drying out excess moisture.

Quiet and easy to assemble, turf fans can be portable and are usually painted dark green colors to blend in with the environment; Thus, noise and appearance factors are kept to the minimum. Very energy efficient, electrically powered or where no power is available, gas powered, to fight the stresses of heat and lack of air movement in any situation. The fans are steel and powder-coated to help them withstand the elements.

How turf fans improve turf health?

Simply by improving air circulation!

Better air exchange benefits the grass in several ways. Blowing air on the surface controls excess moisture reducing the number of consecutive hours of leaf wetness and increasing evapotranspiration, avoiding fungi diseases and algae problems. Fresh air passing over the turf canopy makes needle tinning much more effective. It also diminishes heat stress lowering both canopy and soil temperature. Not only does the surface benefit but also the rootzone, as moisture can be reduced by 10%. The physiology of the plant will be improved, maximizing fungicide performance, thus reducing the number of applications, saving money and providing a more sustainable environment.

Turf fans have helped grass to survive shaded and warm environments all over the world, making a major impact on sports fields and working as a magic pill for groundsmen headaches.

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