Melting Ice at the TROE

By Sam Bauer

This video was shot with a GoPro camera taking 2 photos per second. The photo size was so big that I had to reduce the video quality just to get it to upload, but it gives you the idea of how the single replication treatments were applied.

On Thursday, March 21st, Andrew Hollman cleared off the snow on two putting greens at the TROE Center to evaluate treatments that had the best potential to melt ice. The treatments were applied to either native soil ‘V8’ creeping bentgrass, or USGA ‘Vesper’ velvet bentgrass (some poa). The initial snow blowing of the areas took place on March 14th, but with excessive blowing snow, the areas filled back in over a weeks time. This is simply an investigation into which products will speed up the ice melting process. There were 12 treatments in the trial, including: control (nothing), ice removal, black sand, green sand, 6-2-0 organic, 10-2-10 organic, granular humate, urea 1# gr, urea 1# lq, calcium cloride, black dye, green paint.

Results– the ice thickness during the trial was not desirable and it did have some significant honeycombing. I would have rather seen thick clear ice. Even so, I was able to get a pretty good idea of which treatments performed the best. In general, the black granular substances melted ice the quickest, approximately 2 days faster than the control. Green sand, black pond dye, and green paint were second best, probably a day faster than the control. I was surprised that 1# of urea really didn’t speed up the melting process much. The CaCl treatment was just too light to really show the potential, I was nervous about burning some turf so I didn’t put it on heavy.

Based on the results from this investigation, I really think black sand is a great product of choice for this application. The rate we used was 3 tons per acre, which is a fairly normal topdressing rate.

Another point to mention is that snow removal was the most important step in this process. If you’re getting to the 90 day date of turf being under ice cover, a snow clearing process is a great tool in your arsenal. There are many superintendents completing this task right now, if they haven’t already. While the ice melting treatments sped up the ice removal process, initially all of your effort should be placed on removing the snow.

Andrew Hollman snow blowing the native green on March 14th, 2013

Ice melting treatments immediately after application on March 21st, 2013

Ice melting treatments on March 24th, 2013. Notice that all plots, even the control, are completely clear of ice. Also compare this to the 6-8″ of snow and ice surrounding the plots.