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Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) is a fast, practical, non-destructive technology that allows accurate detection of objects made of any material and other anomalies below the turf. The technology was commercially developed in the mid-70s by Geophysical Survey Systems, Inc. (GSSI) and has proven useful in a wide variety of applications – construction; utility detection; highway, tunnel and bridge deck inspection; archeology; forensics; and police and military operations to name a few.
After the survey data is processed into 3-D images, you have a ‘mole’s eye view’ of everything below the turf. No other technology provides the level of detail and accuracy – all the benefits of digging for answers … without a shovel.
Applications for Golf Courses and Athletic Fields
For superintendents and sports turf managers, a GPR survey is a cost effective means to collect data and ‘view’ subsurface conditions – location and condition of existing drains, pipes and trenches, water-saturated areas and leaks, characteristics of mix layers and other critical data for maintenance and operations.
As cited in TurfGrass Trends, "GPR has been used to monitor the movement of water through surface layers, detect perched water tables and chart subsurface soil horizons and layers. GPR has been successfully used to determine the thickness of the sandy rooting mixture in a golf green, locate the drainage pipes, locate areas of surface compaction and locate areas of concentrated subsurface wetness." The recent development of 3-D imaging software has turned the "great promise in the trouble shooting and management of golf green drainage systems" into a reality for superintendents, sports turf managers, and facility operators.
GPR surveys can be used to monitor subsurface conditions over time and has diagnostic capabilities to detect whether conditions have improved, deteriorated or stayed the same. This data enables managers to prioritize and determine the most appropriate, cost effective action. GPR surveys are alas a highly visual communication tool to use when working with facility owners and boards.