As we reported last Monday, BIGGA has confirmed that its first Festival of Turf will take place this summer, but with a new date, pushed back beyond what should hopefully prove the end of social distancing restrictions.
This announcement coincided with an interesting podcast interview with Jim Croxton the BIGGA CEO by Chris Biddle, TurfPro founder and host of Inside Agri-Turf. Jim was asked a number of interesting questions about the show and how BIGGA and its members had coped with the pandemic. Well worth a listen, there were many interesting subjects covered including how golf clubs, members and greenkeeping operations have been affected throughout covid - and more importantly what the future holds for the industry.
I, like I imagine many other turf professionals, will be of course be keen to attend BIGGA’s new show if it is able to go ahead as planned.
Listening to the podcast, I agree with Jim that this pandemic has certainly changed the way we may work in the future. Golf courses have had to adapt and change many of their working practices which for some may have improved efficiencies. Also it has led some to revise their maintenance regimes that have perhaps improved biodiversity. I myself am chomping at the bit to get out and about and see how golf courses have adapted and coped over this past year.
With golf courses due to open up on the 29th March, the recent good spell of weather will have helped the greenkeeping staff to get their courses prepared and ready for the stampede of golfers wanting to play again.
This window of good weather has also helped the cricket groundsmen prepare their facilities for the start of a new cricket season expected in April, with pre-season rolling taking priority over the next few weeks.
Spring is the time when most groundsmen consider the big issue of which roller to get out when starting their pre-season rolling.
Rolling plays an integral part in the process of cricket pitch preparation. It can improve the performance by compacting the soils, reducing live grass coverage and producing a smoother, uniformed surface.
Understanding what your rollers can and cannot achieve is very important. Knowledge of soil compaction, moisture content and soil swell and shrinkage, coupled with the importance of allowing pitches to dry, is all part of good pitch preparation.
The aim of rolling a cricket square is to compact the pitch so that it is harder and more consistent. The harder the pitch, the less deformity will occur on ball impact, resulting in more pace and bounce. Rolling is part of good pitch preparation, not the most single source of producing great pitches.
There also needs to be optimum moisture content during rolling too. If the soil has dried out too much, the pitch will be too hard and strong and further compaction cannot take place. The same principles apply also if the soil is too wet.
Start your pre-season rolling with a light pedestrian roller (500kg); using the Union Jack system roll the square once from corner to corner, remembering always to return down the same line of roll. Turn off the square if you do not have a reverse gear to your machine.
Allow a couple of days for the square to breathe before repeating in the other direction. This should be enough to consolidate your table and reach rolling potential. This may take a couple of operations. Resist the temptation to continue rolling if severe creasing is in evidence (compressing of the surface). Conditions may be too wet! If you do not have an intermediate roller, e.g. 1000kg, then add some ballast to the light roller and roll across the square, we do not want to create a nap as this will effect the ball movement/swing during a match.
Moving up to the heavy roller 1700kg to 2000kg, repeat the same principles as with the previous weighted rollers. Allow for drying time after each operation. This may be only one day as the square starts to dry out. By finishing your rolling in line of play this will assist in the pre-match day pitch preparation and help to ensure even compaction across the square has been achieved.
As for football and rugby the improving soil and air temperatures will no doubt promote grass growth in the coming weeks and there will be a need to apply a dose of fertiliser to encourage this growth. There are so many good fertiliser products on the market now, the choice can sometimes be overwhelming. A simple soil nutrient test will help you decide on the NPK ratio you may require. Usually a spring / summer fertiliser produce with a lower rate of nitrogen will suffice. I personally like the 9:7:7 NPK ration type products or one with a dose of iron 6-5-10 +6Fe that will help control moss.
However, for me, the setting up and the upkeep of your mowing equipment are an integral and important part of your maintenance regime. There is nothing worse than having a mower that doesn’t start or cut properly.
Far too often it is this equipment that has been neglected and not maintained well enough that leads to problems. Today’s mowers and compact tractors are an essential piece of equipment for most sports clubs and often the most expensive pieces of machinery to own.
By ensuring they are maintained and serviced regularly they will serve your clubs well. I believe it is about times sports clubs valued the cost and investment required to maintain their facility and invest accordingly. I recently wrote an article on this, identifying the values of sports provision There is no getting away from the investment, time and resources required to maintain a busy well used community sports facility.
Let us hope we can continue along the Government’s roadmap to recovery and come July we are all back participating and enjoying our sporting pastimes and hopefully feeding back some much needed income for these sporting facilities.