Aeration and scarification are important operations in the provision and maintenance of healthy turf. In this test we look at a wide range of machines to break compaction and reduce thatch to improve gaseous exchange and water percolation.
We start in the Walled Garden at the Cannington Campus, where we ask David Green to blast air and seaweed into the lawn and the area around the tree planted three years ago by the Earl of Wessex.
Then we move onto the golf course at Cannington Golf Club, part of the college, and put the ATT cassette system through its paces.
The latest Verti-Drain, Toro ProCore and John Deere Aercore are used on the greens. We undertake some hollow coring with the Ryan Lawnaire before using the tractor-mounted ProCore SR.
Finally, we look at two dedicated scarifiers - the pedestrian Charterhouse Pro and tractor-mounted Trilo VCU.
TESTED THIS WEEK
Terrain Aeration Scamper
ATT (Advanced Turf Technology) TMSystem
Verti-Drain 215.013SP + Carrier
John Deere Aercore 800
Toro ProCore 648
Ryan Lawnaire IV Plus
Toro ProCore SR70-S
Charterhouse Pro Scarifier
Trilo VCU 120 Scarifier
THE REVIEW PANEL
Andre Gardner, grounds manager, Bridgwater College, Cannington Campus
Hugh Murray, head greenkeeper, Cannington Golf Club
The Terrain Aeration Scamper is the ugliest machine we have ever seen, but effective.
The Terrain Aeration Scamper is one of a fleet of Airforce units used for decompaction and aeration by Terrain Aeration Services (TAS).
Adapted from the original German-designed Terralift system, it works by hydraulically hammering a hollow probe 1m deep into the soil. Compressed air is blasted through the probe end at pressures that can be accurately controlled over a range from 8-20bar, depending on conditions, creating fractures and fissures in the soil. At the same time, material - we used milled seaweed - is injected into the hole, where it sticks to the walls of the fissures. The probe is removed and the hole backfilled by hand with Lytag. On golf courses and pitches, top-dressing material can also be used.
To keep weight down, Scamper runs off an umbilical cord from a compressor. As each blast of air is forced into the ground, the lawn around the machine lifts gently and then settles back.
"You can see the ground ripple," says Murray. We feel some earlier holes as the machine blasts in more air two metres away. "You can feel the air come out," adds Murray.
Scamper is strongly built and it goes down very deep. "It is getting below the compaction and dealing with it from underneath with virtually no surface disturbance," says Murray. "It's a good system and I am surprised at how much ground it is covering."
TAS offers a package of decompaction, aeration and soil treatments (call 01449 673783).