October 23, 2023 at 12:16 PM #19118
Lets keep the LZ Grass Green!
We are raising funds to purchase supplies and equipment to do much needed maintenance on our 3 acres of Landing Zone grass. Our goal is to raise between $5,000 to $10,000 which will be used exclusively for equipment purchase, equipment rental, and consumables so that we can kill weeds, level the surface, fertilize, and over-seed. This spring our LZ should look new again!
If you would like to donate, please use PayPal to send funds to firstname.lastname@example.org and add a note “LZ Grass”. You can also use the link on the main page to donate, go to ‘Club Info’ and then click ‘Donate’ located at the bottom of the drop down menu.
We plan to execute this project when the flying weather begins to turn and enter our winter ‘off-season’, shooting for late November thru mid-December.
I will add more details and pictures below if you are interested in the work we plan to do and how we will spending the funds. There will also be lots of opportunities to volunteer and come help with the work!October 23, 2023 at 12:25 PM #19119
More details about why and what we are doing, for those who feel inclined for some light technical reading:
This year we enjoyed greener grass for a longer part of the season. I cannot take any credit for this, we simply had an abnormal amount of rainfall. The added rain along with a healthier than normal snow-pack that melted in the spring kept water levels and water pressure very high up at the pond. We want to capitalize on the healthier, more hydrated conditions and keep the green for as long as possible.
I took a soil sample from the LZ in December of 2022 and had it analyzed at a lab located in Anaheim. The report shows all of the critical nutrient levels in the soils that are important for agriculture. As I expected, the nitrogen levels are critically low so we desperately need to fertilize. I’ve attached that soil report to this point if you’d like to read it.October 23, 2023 at 12:33 PM #19120
Weeds… Weeds…. Weeds….
We’ve got a significant amount of weed growth in the LZ. A good portion of it is clover and is not really a super bad thing except that hogs all a lot of the water and nutrients in competition with the grass. The biggest problem is the ‘Goat’s Head’ weeds. These are nasty little radial weed growths that small burrs with very sharp thorns. Getting the thorns in your skin is painful as they tend to puncture and then break off under the surface of the skin, while basically being nearly microscopic. It’s bad enough getting one in your hand or ankle, imagine what it would do to a PG sail or getting tangled up in the lines. A few of these Goat’s Heads have popped up along the southern edge of the LZ and I’ve ripped them out as I find them, but I want to stop them dead before any encroach in the PG Kiting area. (Insert Goats Head pic here).
The first step in the LZ project will be spraying an herbicide that kills weeds but not the grass. Its a multi-step process that will be done just before sunset so it gets watered in during the evening sprinkler cycle. It will take 5 to 6 applications over a 10 day period.October 23, 2023 at 12:55 PM #19121
*** How we are spending the donation funds raised ***
The first $5,500 will cover the majority of supplies needed, but there is also some equipment that the Club will need to maintain the grass year after year.
– The first big thing to get the weeds under control is to spray the entire 3 acres. There is a unit that we will purchase that is towed behind the Lawn Mower or Gator. I has a 40 gallon water tank to mix in the liquid products and then will spray a track about 6 feet wide when towed. This same unit will be used to apply the liquid fertilizer in the same way.
– Consumable supplies. The grass seed, fertilizer, and herbicide are the consumables we will need to purchase and apply annually. We probably don’t have to over-seed every year but we do need to fertilize and take care of weeds more often. This will be a $900 to $1700 annual expense but we will become part of regular annual operating expenses.
– Equipment rental. One thing we need to rent in called a ‘Plug Aerator’, its basically like a giant spike roller to aerate the soil. Because we have a large area of LZ to cover we will try to rent a machine that is basically self-powered like its own little tractor. Worst case, funding restrictions considered, there are are towable units to rent.
The above expenses total nearly $6000. We would like to extend our total fundraising goal to $10K to cover an unexpected expenses, but here is what we could also use the additional funds for:
Gopher Smoker – You all have seen how bad the gopher mounds got in the spring. they weren’t as bad during the summer because the little buggers move out into the eastern approach area to be under the shade of the taller brush. There are hundreds of them! I had professional pest control services quote us for gopher mitigation services (i.e. mass murder), and the quotes were between $7500 to $10K. The club can’t handle an annual recurring expense that high but there is an alternative – there is a $2500 machine that is essentially a smoke generator, you stick a tube into the tunnel and pump smoke into the tunnels which kills the Gophers with carbon monoxide. This is the most effective machine on the market today, several Farmers in the Inland Empire are using these machines with great success. (Insert Gopher Smoker Pic Here).October 23, 2023 at 1:05 PM #19122David WebbGeneral Member
Requested pic:November 20, 2023 at 9:13 PM #19266
*** Update on the LZ situation ***
The Club has purchased the first round of supplies which consists of a back-pack sprayer and the herbicides for weed control. Owen Morse and I spent some time spraying the weeds all across the LZ as well putting smoke bombs in the gopher tunnels (more on the gophers in a minute).
The next step if use a machine that will aerate the soil (big 6 inch spikes), followed by a second machine that evenly spreads the grass seed and brushes it down into the holes created by the aerator. I haven’t gotten the official quote from the rental company yet but I expect the cost to be in the ballpark of $2500 for a weekend rental. We expect to do this on 9 & 10 December or 16-17 December as the back-up.
Jana asked me to include more specifics on what we need help with in terms of the fundraiser so I’ll put some more costs down here that I have been quoted. The BOD agrees the expenses are necessary for LZ maintenance, so the costs for the seed, fertilizer, herbicide, sprayer, etc is coming from the Club’s operating costs. This will total about $3000 when all is said and done. We are doing the special project fundraiser to off-set the costs of the more expensive costs that will likely not be recurring. Right now, they are as follows:
– Renting the Agri-vator (aerator machine) and Seed machine: Est $2500
– Leveling Sand and Topsoil (2 trucks), actual quote is $ 2500
– Burrow X, gopher smoke machine is $2500November 20, 2023 at 9:21 PM #19267
So let’s talk about the gophers real quick. Owen and I have been purchasing off-the-shelf smoke bombs and smoking out as many gopher holes as possible. So far we have deployed roughly 40 smoke bombs and another 48 will be lit off on Wednesday, 22 NOV. We can’t be certain at exactly how effective these are but we just keep treating as many tunnels as we can and then monitor how many fresh dirt mounds we find between every trip. Our goal is to try to reduce the rodent population as much as possible before they breed in the spring.
The Gopher X is supposed to be a far more effective method. I’ve included a video below of its operation if you are curious. According to some local experts, this is the most effective machine used by Farmers and Golf courses in the inland valleys. I will say that this is a nice-to-have machine, it basically comes third in order of importance to what I mentioned in the post above. That said, I think we all see the damage that is being done to the LZ, some of the depressions and ruts that are created by collapsing tunnels are deep enough for a pilot to be injured by upon landing. So the mission is clear, the gophers have to go!November 20, 2023 at 9:41 PM #19268
Kind of continuing the gopher issue, but for other reasons as well, the sand and topsoil we are purchasing is going to be used to level the worst parts of the LZ. Don’t worry, we won’t have to look at or land on a ‘dirt’ LZ while waiting for the grass to grow. We are going to spot fill the worst parts and it will be rolled and raked below the grass level. It will be noticeable when we first start in an area, but hopefully by the time spring flying is in full swing the work will be done and grass will fully established in all of the repaired areas.
So, as I mentioned before the gophers are making the problem worse every season. Besides the potential for someone to roll an ankle or trip upon landing, the un-even ground and ruts in the LZ make the job of mowing a real kidney-punch experience. This causes the mower blades to cut un-evenly and also dulls them out faster.
The loads of topsoil and sand will be mixed 50/50, and are basically $750 per truckload but the delivery fee pushes it up to almost double that. One load of each will get us started but the amount of cubic yards of material to cover our entire LZ with just 1 inch is pretty staggering, its anise we just have to keep tapping away at and paying attention to every season.November 21, 2023 at 8:01 AM #19269David WebbGeneral Member
Here’s the donation link on this site, for those who don’t want to use PayPal.December 1, 2023 at 8:07 PM #19310
Ok everyone, it’s game on.
The equipment rental is set for the weekend of 16 & 17 December. We will be using the Core Aerator, an Over-Seeder, and a Top-Dresser. These three machines will be towed by a Kubota Tractor. The total rental cost is $2800 including the sales tax and delivery fee. We can’t use Gracie for this job, she is too big and too heavy. The Kubota tractor included in this rental is a mid-size tractor and has turf tires that won’t damage the LZ.
Here are some video links for the machines we are using:
Top-Dresser (This will spread Fertilizer & Leveling mix)December 1, 2023 at 8:17 PM #19311
We are still in need of donations! The project budget is still within original estimates, right now we are looking at $5800 for all the materials and rentals so far. What we really need help with to keep this project from pushing up to $8K is donations that will fund the leveling mix, a 50 mix of sand and topsoil. The cost is $1240 per truckload (25 tons) and we’d like to get two truckloads.
We will use the Top-Dresser to spread this across the LZ to fill and level the bad spots. This isn’t enough leveling mix to make it into a putting-green level surface, but it will really help even out the worst areas of damage caused by gopher tunnel damage!
We have more than 300 members in the club, $8 a piece will get this done! $20 from everyone would give us enough to keep leveling through the winter. $40 each would give us enough to get the Gopher Smoker, buy heaps of leveling mix, and also look at installing a central automatic liquid fertilizer system that dispenses from the irrigation sprinklers!
LETS GOOOOO!!!!December 2, 2023 at 1:00 PM #19315Mario MirallesGeneral Member
Thank you Luke, Owen and other volunteers for making this even a better place to fly! $50 sent and delivered.December 5, 2023 at 9:01 AM #19328Mark HoffmannGeneral Member
Texas hold’em, I’m in for 25 chips :)
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