The latest technology from the USA is being used for the first time in Europe on
St Andrews Links to improve the quality of the golf courses. A sulphur burner was installed in May to improve the quality of the borehole water which is used to irrigate the courses.
The burner, no bigger than a domestic cooker, heats raw organic sulphur in the form of small yellow pellets and converts it to a gas (sulphurous dioxide) which, mixed with water, becomes sulphurous acid (H2SO3). This is an entirely safe liquid, with an acidity level similar to lemonade, which is then added to the Links irrigation reservoir. It significantly reduces the pH level of the water from around 8 to between 6.5 and 7 – closer to that of rainwater.
The positive effects on the turf include the reduction of grass diseases, improved water absorption by the soil and better release of nutrients.
“We are always looking at ways of improving the condition of the golf courses. This is an environmentally friendly and effective solution to a problem which affects all the courses on the Links,” said Gordon Moir, links superintendent at St Andrews Links Trust. “As there has been high rainfall this summer we have conducted only a short trial but this showed early signs of improvement in targeted areas. I am looking forward to seeing the overall results in the long-term.”
Sulphur burning is a natural process which has worked successfully on top courses in the USA such as Pebble Beach and Kiawah, and has been used for many years in agriculture to improve soil quality. The company providing the burner is AquaSO2, a company based in California.