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Why do greenkeepers spike a bowls green?

We spike to alleviate compaction and introduce more air into the soil.

Ok, our first web search term question. I’ll try to follow this format for all questions, i.e. the question will be the title of the post, there will be a concise, one sentence answer in block quotes for those in a hurry and then we’ll look a bit more in-depth for those who want more detail.

Comments of course will be welcome as always, so feel free to ask questions, or throw in your contribution.

OK, so the first one is a common one:

First of all let’s explain what the term “spike” means.

Spiking is a generic term used to describe a range of aeration practices where a machine with metal tines punctures the ground. Now, I tend to attach this term to deep slit tining (knife-like tines), but lots of other people refer to solid tining (with a round profile tine) as spiking also.

So, if we agree that the term spiking is related to aeration, then we can begin to add a bit of helpful information:

Spiking is carried out for two distinct purposes; to improve the ability for air and in particular oxygen to get into the soil and to relieve compaction within the soil, which also has the effect of creating more air space.

Compaction results from foot and maintenance traffic, which puts downward pressure on the turf. Healthy turf requires a large amount of aeration porosity within the soil to assist drainage and the breakdown of thatch. Fertilisers are converted to plant useable forms by aerobic bacteria within the soil and as their name suggests these organisms need oxygen to thrive. When heavy use and maintenance traffic go on for prolonged periods with no remedial aeration works, a large proportion of the air is squeezed out of the soil resulting in anaerobic conditions. The end result is called compaction, which inhibits drainage, root penetration and fertiliser and thatch breakdown.

So thats Spiking; more questions answered tomorrow.

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