For example, Profile Products of Buffalo Grove, Ill., manufactures PPC Green Grade, a porous ceramic material that strengthens root systems, enhances moisture retention and increases disease resistance. The particles are 74 percent pore space, 39 percent capillary (water) pores and 35 percent non-capillary (air) pores. “If you look at (the particles) under a microscope, they have all kinds of micropores in them,” Broadbelt says.
They hold water, but once they’re filled, water drains through them like a sieve. So, you’re not necessarily giving away downward drainage by using the product. “It does hold water, but not so tightly that the roots can’t extract from it,” Broadbelt adds.
Mirimichi Green manufactures CarbonizPN, a soil enhancer it markets as an amendment, which, among other things, reduces soil compaction and water needs while also optimizing soil pH. It’s a 50/50 blend of crystallized carbon (Biochar) and a premium organic compost that the company manufactures. Because the carbon portion has a half-life of around 500 years, Mirimichi Green’s chief operating officer Web Cowden describes the product as a “permanent soil amendment.”
“It has a very porous structure,” he says. “The process by which we make this is called pyrolysis (utilizing extreme heat to simulate the chemical decomposition of organic material). What you’re left with is a very porous crystalized structure that has a very high carbon content and a very low ash content. It has the ability to hold air, water and nutrients within its pore structure, and makes them available to the plant when they are needed.”
In addition to CarbonizPN, Mirimichi Green manufactures Nutri-Release, a broad-spectrum liquid organic fertilizer that can be added to the sand/amendment mix as a biostimulant at a rate of three ounces per 1,000 square feet. The two products, when used in tandem, have a significant impact on the soil profile, Cowden says.
“You’re putting organics, you’re putting long-chain carbon, you’re putting biology into the soil profile,” he says. “And then with the liquid biostimulant, you’re actually feeding the biology that you’re putting into the soil. So, it’s kind of a one-two punch.”
The idea of punching holes with water is not a new one. The technology was developed in Sweden and later became the property of Land Pride, a division of Great Plains Manufacturing.
In 2000, Peter van Drumpt and Chris des Garennes purchased the technology, along with the patent that went with it and other necessities, and then making alterations so it would be both reliable and commercially viable. Thus, DryJect was born.
It’s possible to treat 18 holes in a single day, depending on the number of DryJect machines being used on the job. Typically, two or three machines can complete the task, but perhaps four are needed depending on the size of the greens being treated.
The structure of the crystallized carbon, which Cowden describes as resembling a honeycomb, holds air in some of its pore spaces, thereby allowing improved air circulation in areas where the organic material may have accumulated over time.
“That becomes kind of a home for all the biological activity,” Cowden says. “All the microbes have a place to go into these pores. They’re protected, they can reproduce and help keep the soil biology alive. Having an aerobic root zone is just as important as having moisture down there. When that becomes anaerobic and your biology can’t survive, thrive or reproduce, then you get a dead thatch layer and everything below it just dies away.”
The process is catching on with superintendents throughout the country. Chris Tritabaugh, completing his sixth season as the superintendent at Hazeltine National Golf Club in Chaska, Minn., which hosted last year’s Ryder Cup, first used DryJect in October of 2015 and in May and October of 2016. He used it again this past May. Another treatment was scheduled for Nov. 1.