Converting a Skeptic: Air2G2 324 Wins Over Mark Semm
Mark Semm, Director of Agronomy at Cordillera Ranch Golf Club, considers himself a skeptic. In fact, it took him almost three years to try out the Air2G2 324 on his bentgrass greens located in the historically bermudagrass hill country climate. Although Semm has close ties with owners Jeff and Rick Kadlec of GLK Turf Solutions, the local distributor, he kept his work and personal relationships separate in the decision to use Air2G2 324.
Semm was present for the second demo the Air2G2 324 ever had in Texas in 2014. Jeff, a superintendent at the time, invited Semm to join him on a field trip to Toyota Field. Glen Black, inventor of the unique air-injection process, gave a descriptive and visual presentation of the benefits. The Air2G2 air-injection process helps relieve Compaction, increase Porosity and enhance Respiration with minimal surface disruption. These results are achieved by fracturing the profile and creating improved and new pore spaces. The additional pore space created will instantly improve your soil characteristics without shearing roots or disrupting the playing surface.
Fast forward three years to 2017.
“I’m typically not one of those guys who jumps right in on new products, whether a new piece of equipment or something in a jug. I like to let other people get the kinks out first,” Semm said. “Eventually at some point the Air2G2 piqued my interest.” His point of interest was spurred by Jeff and Rick sharing the results of International Sports Turf Research Center (I.S.T.R.C.) tests from other golf courses. Being able to see statistical results of decreased compaction and improved porosity, he agreed to another demo on his bentgrass greens. At that point Semm scheduled four treatments over the 2017 calendar year.
Prior to initiating the Air2G2 air-injection process, Semm followed an aggressive core aerification program designed to combat compaction, dry spots and increase porosity through the soil profile. He pulled cores twice a year, regularly vented and top dressed. Semm said his goals were to manage organic matter, reduce compaction, and improve water and nutrient uptake in the profile.
By the summer, he noticed a change. “We were seeing greater root mass, a little bit longer roots. We’d always had decent root length but not the root mass.”
Semm is a firm believer in data. For the past three years, he’s submitted his own I.S.T.R.C. tests to mark the progress at his course. He sat on pins and needles as he waited to learn if what he was seeing anecdotally with the Air2G2 324 would show up in the lastest I.S.T.R.C. results. At the time, he said, “I’m hoping for the best, to get the report back and see greater pore space, and less compaction.”
The results were better than expected.
“With the addition of the Air2G2 324 into our agronomic program, our I.S.T.R.C. test results show an average 42% increase in infiltration in the 0-4" zone,” Semm said. “While a single sample in the 8-12" zone showed a 96% increase in infiltration.”
Along with adding the Air2G2 324 air-injection process, he changed other practices as well. He now pulls fewer, smaller cores. Even with the proven success of the Air2G2 324, Semm said he doesn’t think he will ever eliminate core aerification from his management practices. However, prior to the Air2G2 324, Semm reduced the size of the tines dramatically from ⅝ tines with tight spacing to ¼ inch tines that only affect 4% of the surface area. The addition of the air-injection process into his agronomic plan has made him comfortable with that decision. Semm and his team are confident the turf health will continue to match his high level of expectations.
“If we can maintain a healthier profile without having to pull big cores, and not disrupt the members and guests, we can keep them happier,” Semm said.
“There’s just not a machine out there that can do that.”
Semm purchased two machines at Cordillera and recommends the Air2G2 324 to colleagues. After all, he got a little help from his friends.
“It’s really about the overall health of the soil, which in turn is the health of the plant. By using the Air2G2 you are reaching every square inch of your greens profile,” Semm said. "At the end of the day, you are touching a number of things in the entire profile. There’s just not a machine out there that can do that.”