Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Fan Research Update

This year has been full of weather anomalies and tomorrow's forecast high of 74 is no different.  One thing that helps us control the temperature of our putting surfaces is the use of large TurfBreeze fans.  These fans come with years of anecdotal evidence and the proof has really been on display here at Willow Oaks.  With the addition of fans on greens with poor air movement such as 1 and 4, turf quality has never been better.   Over the last few years, Dave McCall, turf pathologist at Virginia Tech has been studying the use of fans here at Willow Oaks.  Dave and his team measure root depth, soil moisture, surface and soil temperature as well as plant health to determine the true efficacy of the fans.  Without boring you with the details, Dave has proven that the fans decrease canopy and soil temperature and allow for healthier root systems.  The below pictures serve to be the best evidence I have seen that these fans are working and greatly benefiting our greens here at Willow Oaks.
This is some infrared technology that Dave McCall has been utilizing to measure the canopy temperatures of our putting greens.  This is number 11 green at 1:30 p.m. on August 12, 2013.  The high temperature that day was 91 degrees.  This picture was taken with the fan off.  You can see the areas in blue are the trees/shade behind the green.  This fence/tree line blocks a lot of air movement as well.  The green surface temperature is anywhere between 94 and 96.5 degrees.  The plotted point showing 109.1 is actually the fan itself.  The metal fan obviously gets pretty warm.
This infrared picture was taken at 2:35 p.m. once the fan was allowed to run for 45 minutes.  With the fan on, the area of the putting green farthest from the fan has dropped 6 degrees while the ambient air temperature increased.  You can see in the green colored area around the fan that those surface temperatures have dropped any where from 13 - 18 degrees.  A cooler surface certainly promotes a healthier bentgrass plant that has the ability to transpire and maintain a healthy root system.  Air movement is very important in our business either through tree management, fan installation, or design.
This picture was taken as the fan had oscillated towards the back of the green.  It shows that the area directly in front of the fan is cooled the greatest amount.  This proves the importance of the oscillation.  In the short amount of time that it takes for the fan to turn, the area that was 75.9 degrees has increased to 86 degrees.  As the fan oscillates back and forth, it maintains a much cooler surface temperature than without. 
Many thanks to Dave for the constant support he gives our team through his research, outreach and University extension.  Enjoy the warm weather and have a great holiday season.

Jordan Booth

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