Your Gut Now Has a Number Part 2

14.04.15-Norley.CalderBy Norley Calder
Superintendent, Sagebrush Golf and Sporting Club

The next stage of soil moisture metering gets into meters that are buried in the ground.  These meters do more than measure soil moisture; they can also measure salinity and temperature. 

These systems are not cheap but you do save a lot of time if you are relying on the TDR.  The Toro system for golf irrigation is the leader in my opinion (I have a Rain Bird System).  I say this because both can actually control the irrigation system but the Toro is wireless while the Rain Bird system still has a wire.  Toro bought out a company in 2006 that produced the Turf Guard soil sensors to get the rights to the technology so they were at the forefront of this movement. 

The other system that I have started to research is 'UgMo' which is also wireless however it cannot tap into any golf irrigation system.  The cost, hassle, mess and the chance that a wire can get punctured or clip an existing line to install the Rain Bird sensors doesn’t make sense to me.  If you don’t have a Toro Irrigation system you can still use the Toro Turf Guard system or UgMo.  Hopefully in upcoming issues I can update you on costs and installation as I am looking at installing a of couple holes at a time.

14.08.13-tru.firmSpectrum Technologies Tru-Firm and Green Index+ board

I finally broke down this year and bought the Green Index+ board and Green Index Turf App from Spectrum Technologies.  This is basically a device to measure how green your grass is, measuring in theory, the chlorophyll levels in the turf leaves. 

The idea is to associate a number with the color green and compare it to your “green”.  You can determine a base level after you fertilize as well when you need to fertilize again either by eye, tissue test, soil test, or whether it is a full moon or whatever.  However you determine your values it is up to you.  This will allow you to realize when the plant is using up more or less nutrients and modify your fertility program to what the plant needs.  One downfall is this only works with an Apple based camera platform.

Over the last couple years, the USGA has been using their version of a Clegg hammer or a compaction meter.  If you wanted one before late last year it would cost about $15,000.  Now, the USGA has allowed Spectrum to produce this device for about a grand for us Canadians.  The device simply takes a reading and if you have the Bluetooth option, transmits to your android phone.  An iPhone app is coming late summer or early fall according to Spectrum. 

14.08.13-tru.firm2USGA Northwest Director Larry Gilhuly, using the Tru-Firm at Chambers Bay Golf Course, site of the 2015 US Open

The TruFirm simply has a weighted rod with a rounded bottom that you lift up and drop; the device measures the depth of the indent and gives you a number.  The app allows you to record different areas of the green and take statistical information for comparison.  This will allow you to have more consistent greens.  It also allows you the option to measure other area such as approaches. 

We are trying to change the media in our approaches so this tool will tell us if we are improving the firmness to better replicate the greens playability characterisitics.  With this device, you will be able to share your number with colleageus because it is just measuring the indent.  How you get to a certain number, well, that is everybody’s secret!

Be careful though.  We now have another number, just like the stimpmeter, that hopefully we won't be expected to post at the first tee.  I plan to keep it quiet that I even have this tool.  The price of the TruFirm should hopefully keep it out of your greens committee golf bags unlike the stimpmeter.