Eager students from the four corners of the world have given “Professor Emeritus” status to Micke Santoro, owner and operator of Southern California Hydroseed and Hydromulch, Inc. At the international level, hydroseeding has only taken roots in recent years and poses many questions from amateurs in the business wanting to use the proper techniques on golf courses, sport fields and erosion control.
Needing hands-on instruction and adivce, entrepreneurs are seeking out Santoro, often through the recommendations of equipment suppliers who laud his reputation for being one of the most knowledgable in the industry. From Okinawa, the Takakura Corporation sent Kiyoto Yonomine for a training course. Upon return to his home land, Yonomine supervised the construction and hydroseeding of a 27 hole golf course. From the other side of the world, contractor Hubert Dolmans of the Netherlands, sought advice from Santoro before undertaking projects in Europe and Arabian countries. Among the several dozen golf courses Santoro has hydroseeded in Southern California, a pride of workmanship is the Temecula Creek Inn, located in Southwest Riverside County. Temecula Creek Inn decided to add an additional nine holes to the original eighteen holes that opened in 1970. Named the Stone House Nine, the picturesque course includes a turn-of-the-century stone quarry dining hall used for serving quarrymen who worked the surrounding hills in mining huge boulders into curbs. In terms of “why hydroseed?” this course was a classic learning experience for Santoro students. The sixty acres of rolling hills is sprinkled with old California live oak trees and other lovely natural foliage. Accourding to the golf course architect, Ted Robinson, “The natural aesthetics of the land gave us the opportunity to combine the unique beauty of the landscape with golfing challenges throughout the new course.” Being mindful of the natural terrain was coupled with an ever present mid-afternoon wind. Mixing in wood fiber mulch with seed, water and fertilizer is a key ingredient to prevent wind and water erosion. The mulch can retain up to ten times its weight in water and the seeds are kept moist.
Common bermuda was hydroseeded on the fairways and roughs, and Bentgrass on the greens. Tim Kitterer, Temecula Creek Inn golf Superintendent, asserts, “I am a firm believer in hydroseeding because you have the assurance against erosion…in essence the process gives you a head start in developing the course.” Hydroseeding is having tremendous growth effect. After the Arabs discovered they had some of the most attractive and quick playing golf courses, hydroseeding was used to enhance otherwise arid lands. In Great Britain, industrial and business parks that were rarely landscaped became an attraction rather than an eye-sore. Some situations require the refined technique of hydro-sprigging, where live plant material is sprayed into the land.
Danny Nakamura brought a crew of 6 for this schooling before beginning the Royal Hawaiian Golf course on the windward side of Oahu. Due to topography and climate conditions, Nakamura acknowledges this may be one of the most expensive golf courses in the world. As a result he has invited Santoro for on-site consulations in Oahu on several occasions, wanting to ensure 100 percent success of his project. In preparation for the 1992 Olympics, Agro-Mechania in Spain requested Santoro’s teachings for Joop Van Den Berg. Santoro took him onto job sites in progress, as he does with anyone wanting to learn. They worked in all phases of the business from the actual spraying to loading and cleaning his specially designed 3,000 gallon Bowie hydromulchers. Armed with this first hand experience, Van Den Berg returned to Spain prepared to properly implement erosion control along the highways and plant various spot fields and golf courses. Santoro, whose primary motivation is by no means for financial gain, makes time to help others to provide the proper world wide advancement of hydroseeding. Years in the industry have shown him that the techniques work well with an experienced operator, while in the hands of a novice, the results could be disastrous. His philosophy is that for every job done well, everyone in the industry benefits. Sometimes people do call on him after their own unsuccessful venture.
Others seek his council before embarking on a hydroseeding project, such as Yong Kim from Korea. Kim owns a Bowie dealership and realized that the best way to help his clients would be to learn the hydro-sprigging techniques needed to speed up the grow-in-time in his native land. He learned the proper application of “Zoysia” grass, acceptable to the Korean soil and climate and was able to go home and help train others. There is much talk currently of environmental global concerns. With Santoro’s attitude, there is also action. “If new influential users do not see the right results and learn the appropriate technicalities, I know the green industry will suffer,” said Santoro. “I would far rather see them get off on the right foot.”