The Soil Moisture Meter

By Jeff Plotts, Director of Golf Course Maintenance at TPC Scottsdale

Today we will look at a critical tool in desert greens management, the soil moisture meter. This tool is very beneficial in maintaining proper moisture, speed and firmness of the greens.

The tool will measure the percent of moisture in volumetric water content which is the volume of water per unit of soil. In short, through formulas, this gives us an idea of how wet or dry the green is in a specific location. Through multi measurements, we can get an average of the overall moisture content of the green. As well, when we take our measurements we can find those areas that may need a little extra water to maintain uniformity throughout the green.

It is our objective to only use the overhead irrigation once the greens reach a set percentage on average. The key indicator for overhead watering is the percentage measurements in the lowest areas of the green or typically the wettest areas of the green. Percent of organic material in the green, weather conditions, exposure and turfgrass health are all things that must be taken into consideration when setting the percentage of volumetric water content goals. Through proper and consistent evaluation our team can make environmentally conscious decisions on watering and can feel comfortable with the overall health of the greens which leads to better playing conditions.