This last year we purchased the Air2g2. There was a lot of hype about this machine in the sports field industry there seemed to be relatively little information about the use in the golf course industry. I first saw the Air2g2 at the Spanish greenkeeper conference in 2014 in Malaga at the Campey stand. I had no idea what it was and what it was capable of, but it looked really cool and modern and a little scary. I had to learn more! So after hours talking with Campey and Deltacinco (the Spanish distributor), it was decided that a demo should be done at the beginning of 2015 in Mallorca not only with the air2g2 but with almost the whole range of machinery that Campey had to offer.
At the demo we saw all machines that Campey had to offer with the air2g2 being the last shown. The demo was done on the putting green and at first I was shocked and a little worried about the impact the machine was having on the putting surface as the air was being injected. The whole surface around the three spikes that were inserted into the ground was literally rising from the amount of air being injected. This scared me at first but I was told this was normal. After really looking at process and what was happening I could start to see why this machine was gaining popularity in the golf business. The Air being injected into the soil and root zone was not the only benefit that this machine was bringing. I could imagine what was taking place below the surface, the high pressure air being injected and breaking and loosening the soil and removing the compaction allowing the roots to have more freedom to move thru the soil. For me this was the more important detail and the benefit of the air to the plant was a secondary plus. I knew that this machine made perfect sense for the greens at Club de Golf Son Servera.
Here is a little background history of the course. Club de Golf Son Servera was first opened in 1967 as a 9 hole golf course with push up greens and in 2011 the club opened 9 new holes. Unfortunately the greens that were constructed in 2011 have major drainage issues So for me the air2g2 seemed like the most logical fit.
So here comes the complicated bit. I know, Campey knows and most Greenkeepers know that this machine would greatly improve the conditions of the greens, but how do I convince the greens committee. I knew that with the price tag of this machine there would be many questions and a proper report would need to be done to convince the committee that spending the money on the machine would be worth it both from an economical and agronomical point of view.
Justifying the Purchase
We knew that every time we closed the club in September to do the aerification we would lose about €20.000 in greenfees. One week with the greens closed and another with reduced cost until the greens recovered. September is our high season here in Mallorca so you can imagine how well the news of aerifying the greens gets received. Added to the €20.000 of lost profit to the cost of silica sand here on the island and labor, every time we aerified it cost the club more or less €27.000. This made justifying the price tag of the air2g2 that much easier. Add to that the agronomic benefits that we would get. The Committee was convinced and we purchased the machine at the end of summer.
Since we have had the Air2g2 we have gone around two times on the greens with the 15cm spikes. I have to say that I am extremely happy. Two weeks after the first pass root zone samples were taken and the results showed that the root zone had grown from a normal depth of 5-8 centimeters coming out of summer to an incredible 10-15 centimeters. Of course being the skeptic I am I did do only half of one green to have a comparison. The results were clearly visible, the half that I used as control had a 7cm root zone and the other half where the Air2g2 passed had a 13cm root zone. These results can only be explained by the use of the Air2g2. After the second pass at the same depth I have seen only a small increase in root zone. I can only assume that this is because of the spike size of 15cm and that the soil is not getting the compaction relief those longer spikes would provide. I will have to wait and see once we have tried the 30cm spikes.
I get asked a lot by the members and guest. What is this crazy looking machine and what does it do? I basically compare the explosion of air injected into the soil as that of hydraulic fracking but of course with air. This fracking of the soil has virtually eliminated the soil compaction and created more space to allow the roots an easier time to grow and keep moving down thru the soil profile. And of course the air that is injected helps create a healthier root zone. Side benefits are less disease, firmer greens, and of course healthier turf
I have used the air2g2 in other areas around the course as well. We receive over 30.000 rounds a year and most of that is concentrated in 3 months in fall and 4 months in spring, so you can imagine that the traffic areas on and off the greens get pretty beat up and abused. Before the purchase of the air2g2 we would aerate these areas and continually topdress to help relieve the compaction from the traffic with only minimal results. We took the air2g2 to these areas at a spacing of 20cm and the results have been fantastic. These areas are almost perfect and have no problems handling the traffic. Even the members have come up to me and asked what we have done and that they have never seen these areas in such good condition. I also use the air2g2 to help relieve disease. I had an outbreak of brown patch on 17 green and took the air2g2 out and worked the affected area to see what results I would get, and surprisingly the disease disappeared within a few days without any additional treatment. The list of benefits of the air2g2 is I am sure much longer and I look forward to discovering them. When all is said and done this purchase of the Air2g2 was well worth it and the course has done nothing but benefit.
Zachary LaPorte, Director de Campo, Club de Golf Son Servera.
By kind permission of golfindustria.es