Beversbrook Pitch Update- 27/01/16

With 74.9mm of rain this month and counting!!! Just a little insight what the grounds team now face and the problems that is caused underneath the green grass which accounts for the very wet pitches and the cancelation of games……

Please also be aware that the Beversbrook Grounds Team are the most disappointed not to be able to get games played and we also lose revenue, but it is not just ourselves there are many sites throughout the UK in similar and even worse situations….

With the amount of rain and compaction caused a MAJOR PROBLEM, particularly in our rootzones that have a high ‘fines’ content (clay/silt/organic matter).

Constant foot and equipment traffic over the summer months will have taken its toll in compacting the soil and pulverizing the fine soil particles to create a thin layer than can become a barrier for the transport of air and moisture into and through the soil profile.

These ‘fines’ can clog-up the micropores and fill-in the collapsed macropores with solids that force out oxygen and prevent the gravitational drainage of water. In such instances, compaction can reduce the operating efficiency of turf by as much as 25-30% as water does not drain, air movement is stopped and root growth is restricted.

In addition, compaction can cause excessive run off and reduced irrigation effectiveness. Regular aeration will of course help to alleviate these problems but at any one time using mechanical means, less than 10% of the surface will actually be affected. A complementary treatment following mechanical aeration (hollow coring/verticutting), however is the application of some granules, containing advanced polymeric polyelectrolytes, together with a superior soil penetrant system.

Some products negatively charged polyelectrolyte (anionic) granules attract the positively charged (cationic) clay and organic soil particles in the soil and aggregate the minute de-structured clay particles (‘fines’) forming them into larger crumbs. The formation of these crumbs opens up air spaces, allowing the free flow of oxygen and water and create spaces for root development.

Identify and control

Black layer is a problem that can arise during the winter months, particularly common under wet conditions. Poor water movement and waterlogging are probably the most frequently identified causes, however inadequate drainage, poor construction materials, algae and the use of inorganic iron/sulphur have all been implicated in its formation. When oxygen is in short supply within the rootzone, the potentially toxic gases Hydrogen Sulphide and Methane can become prevalent within the rootzone pore spaces, resulting in root damage. Products containing activated carbon absorbs these gases so reducing the damaging effect they can cause. In addition (where budgets allow), where a rooting stimulant is incorporated in such a product for Black layer containing activated carbon, rooting biostimulant, soil penetrant and an enzymatic system, the formulation will assist the plant roots to re-colonise infected areas and works well in combination with mechanical aeration, such as spiking or hollow tining.

Raising the Colours

Natural soil iron, though plentiful in the soil, can be deficient in the plant as it is mostly in an insoluble form, which it is unable to take up. In addition, the continued use of iron products based on ferrous sulphate can also lead to problems, including black layer, turf blackening and reduced root growth. Ideally, the choice should be products containing chelated iron, which overcome these problems. Such products are the only effective way of providing iron in a biological form that can be utilized by the turf. Complex molecules protect the biologically active ferrous iron within their ring like structures, preventing it from reacting with other substances and become unavailable for plant uptake.

Operation review

Winter has been a testing time for the turf manager as this season has been wetter than most. Being prepared is the key to a successful outcome and ensures the turf remains healthy and able to contend with the stresses brought about by changing climatic and growing conditions. Pre-planning and control are essential requirements and there may be opportunities to integrate some products into the winter programme which will enable the plant to resist or repel all that is thrown at it and be in an ideal state to advance into the spring and take up a healthy position.

Know we need to wait for the surface to be hard enough for us to get the machinery on to open up the surface to allow the gases out and get the air into the roots. Until the surface is in a condition to get the machinery on you can always take a fork to the most compacted and worse areas by hand forking them.

REF. 2015 Rigby Taylor