by Sam Bauer
Recently rolling has become popular as an accepted turf management tool. The most obvious benefit is the increased greens speed due to a firmer and smoother surface. This effect is seen immediately but the effect diminishes over the days following rolling. While this effect is most beneficial to golfers and other end users, there are also some agronomic benefits as well. It has been shown that there are decreased occurrences of dollar spot disease. It has also been shown that there appears to be less damage from cutworms on turf that is rolled regularly. Rolling can also help a light topdressing of sand move down into the turf canopy. Finally, you can mow at a slightly higher height and maintain the same green speed as a lower height of cut. This allows your stand of turf to be better able to withstand many of the stresses that are put upon it.
There have been some negative effects of rolling reported. These include increased soil compaction, decreased water infiltration and a thinning of the turfgrass stand. All of these are the results of an overly aggressive rolling program, ie 4-7 times per week; rolling when the soil is saturated, especially on native soils; and continued rolling during the excessive heat of summer. You should be able to avoid all of these issues by limiting your rolling to 2 times per week on sand-based turf and once per week on native soils and put rolling on hold during the heat of summer.
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Rolling and dollar spot (.pdf)