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Message Board - Football: deep plough and power harrow.

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Steve R.
Posted 28 Mar 2013
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Posts: 32

Hi all, im after some advice regarding our football pitch.
Like everyone else we have suffered with the heavy continuous rains,but over the years our pitch has aquired two bad areas that remain very wet after the rest seems to dry well within reason.
Our pitch starts relatively level, but has what i can describe as an aeroplane propellor slope along its length.
We have, i would say roughly 10" of top soil over heavy clay. i understand clay doesnt drain well and we have little or no money as a small club to hire aerators, so forks are our main weapon of attack.
Also we currently have not got any drainage installed.
Someone has recently suggested we deep plough and power harrow our pitch as soon as the the season is finished, and then drill new grass seed. I have been told by a local farmer who has some very large industrial machinery, he can do this, and has done this for some other local clubs, and we can expect a much smoother playing surface and grass growth will be good enough for the start of the oncoming season.
Is this a good idea on a very limited budget, or will the plough & harrow introduce too much air, and in wet conditions make the ground boggy and sink to uneven levels. and will the grass grow in time...?
Any help much appreciated from a manager trying to push his local village club in the right direction..
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eddyinfreehold
Posted 28 Mar 2013
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Perhaps no drainage installed is your biggest problem.

I would be wary of farmers with massive machinery, some of it is way too massive, unless they have a small tractor with amenity/turf tyres rather than huge agricultural spud treads.
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vid
Posted 28 Mar 2013
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Too right, I would check out his previous jobs. My experience of ploughing is that most of the surface is good but where the ground is opened up or overlapped long wet dips or dry scalped ridges can appear when the surface settles and you are quite right in that the soft earth can cause more problems than it solves in very wet weather like last year. It will only temporarily solve drainage issues and will make no difference once field capacity is reached.
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Barry Pace
Posted 29 Mar 2013 Last edited: 29 Mar 2013
Dr. Bunsen Honeydew
Posts: 3077

'Where the future is being made today'

Why plough it up which means starting from point zero structurally and grass coverage wise when you could spend the money on aeration, some sanding and maybe weed control and a bit of an overseed.
Also do you have water available to get the seed established through the Summer else you will be reliant on enough rainfall being timed little and often between ripping it up and the first match, unlikley.
Ploughing without adequate working and consolidation will undoubtably lead to rippled surface as it settles, I personally dont like it for light regrades unless pitches are being drained as then you work it to get a tilth to grade it, laser grade it, run all over it draining it, have to recultivate to get a tilth you can then start to do a finish, all giving enough to ease out the air, to plough, powerharrow it twice, run a chainharrow over it and maybe a roller is not enough.
The theory of a Farmer and the soil is great, unfortunately they do not tend to have to produce a smooth even surface to grow crops and will be unlikley to have the right kit to get a PROPER finish especially if there is ANY stone content and certainly will be a rarity if he knows what a proper Amenity seed mix is and even more scarce if he realises that you have to sow at a minimum of 25 gms/sq.m rather than 10 or less in Ag.
Big Ag tractors are great for bulk cultivations, the stage 1 stuff if you like but crap for finishing, fertilising or seeding.
And before anyone gets on a high horse I am farming born and bred, and worked for agricultural contractor for a while before getting into sport and learnt very quickly that all you keep with you is knowing how to play soil and conditions but you forget most other about what is acceptable.
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David Ember
Posted 29 Mar 2013
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Agree with Barry, you would need to power harrow and Cambridge roll two or three times to ensure a flat surface and the 25gsm for seeding is a minimum you probably need more an extra 4 or 5 bags of seed is a once over with a vertidrain which will benefit your whole pitch.

We used to have a really nice pitch in Southampton before a farmer did the renovation, ploughing and harrowing, unfortunately all this achieved was ruining the pitch as it brought a load of flint to the surface.

I guess what Barry is saying, is look at the money you have got to spend, see if you can spend it getting an aggressive renovation done rather than ploughing - clean the top surface out with scarifying, get a vertidrain in to go as deep with as much heave on as they can, then seed drill and top dress with sport sand or something with a high sand content.

If that is not what you are saying Barry, then I will say it :)
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Steve R.
Posted 29 Mar 2013
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Posts: 32

Thanks for your replies gents, I'm a bit concerned myself at this process as it it seems good for agriculture but not for a sports field. We've been quoted £400 + vat to earthquake our pitch, and £450 + vat to vertidrain. For some reason our committee seem to think that this ploughing option would be cheaper.
I don't know if these prices are good or not for these jobs, we are near to exeter, devon, so prices may vary from your areas.
I'm also trying to nudge our playing field committee towards a sport england protecting playing fields grant, to drain and level our pitch, we are a charity commission playing field so whether that will help I don't know?
I have to admit I had to fight hard for our footbal club to buy a 2nd hand allett conqueror mkII mower for the start of the season, as all they had was a field topper which only cut to about 4" and isn't good for football.
As I said in my first post, we have little or no money, less than 1k at the moment, but we do have a couple of fund raising functions soon which hopefully may add to it. I'm always hunting for grants to help out, but if some of you could put down quite simply the way you think we should go with our limited budget,
I would be very grateful and it may help to put this in front of our stubborn committee and say this is what we need to spend what we have got doing..
Many thanks gents...
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Barry Pace
Posted 29 Mar 2013
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Posts: 3077

'Where the future is being made today'

Prices for getting to and doing the job seem fine, what is actually important is are the guys any good, if so get them on it, people seem to think that companies can work for peanuts, running all this kit, lorries, diesel, insurance, have blokes sat in the yard ready to come do your job at a tip of the hat, have guys probably only actually earning money 60-70% of the time the rest costing more than they have been able to do and (not having go at you Mr FM, but the committee really what planet are these people on) you get someone with absolutely no clue whatsoever start guessing how much a pitch relay costs and start comparing it with STANDARD practice maintenance of a Sports Pitch...
OK perspective lets say they let the farmer loose, cost to Plough, Powerharrow, Harrow and roll, between 1.5 and 2 acres, they gonna want between £1K or £2K to do that surely unless they trying to score political points or favours, Fertiliser say 12 bag so MINIMUM £200 unless they gonna throw 20:10:10 on from last years stock left in the back of the barn and Seed, need sto be 30-40 gms/sq.m IMHO so you looking at 14 bags so circa £850 ....
Down this way last year there was a 'Contractor' going round telling football clubs he could relay their pitches for under £5K, he basically did none of the recognised renovation practices, removed or added nowt, just got stuck in with 'a machine that will cultivate and level and be able to place the seed at any depth you want, 1" plus if you wanted' and all in one pass apparently.. well the one club I know, a Blue Square as well, got filled up to the brim with this bolloc4s and went for it, they suffered all season with issues, and I hope they can afford the remedial work that is now needed to bring the pitch back to the standard required.
USE PROFESSIONALS, but pick the right ones well, chose the ones that do this stuff for a career, a way of life, listen to what they say, do not ignore them, but pick well first as there are plenty of people out there who will fill you up with all sorts of s4it as its only a bit of grass and dirt isn't it,
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peter p
Posted 29 Mar 2013
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Go with the earthquake or verti drain keep the farmer off your land at all costs
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David Lee
Posted 29 Mar 2013
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I agree with the get it done properly approach. Vertidraining makes a massive difference though not to the levels issue obviously, and you can overseed as much or as little as you can afford, if you plough you're stuck with reseeding and then hope it takes before you get on,and that's possibly only eight weeks if your club starts training when ours does.

If you can stand the bureaucracy and are serious about a proper job, get some quotes, work up a scheme and look for grants. There are some through the Sports England Protecting Playing Fields scheme and Viridor offer grants as a trade off for their land-fill sites. The FA has recently issued a strategy document claiming they intend to offer support to improve 3,000 grass pitches nationally, though it's not clear to me exactly how they intend to do this, my guess is through the Football Foundation. Try speaking to someone at your county FA to see if they know more. It might take some time but if you've got any cash, put up with the pitch for a year while you sort out grant aid and raise some additional funds. They usually want matched funding or a contribution from the club and if you've already spent it on a half-baked job you'll kick yourselves. (And don't let the managers see the cash or they'll spend it on kit or tracksuits to try to look professional).

PS If you've got one, tie your roller to a tree and try cancelling some games when wet, it pays off in the end.
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Steve R.
Posted 29 Mar 2013 Last edited: 29 Mar 2013
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Posts: 32

Barry, David & Peter, thanks guys. The company who has given advice so far regarding earthquaking and vertidraining is devon garden machinery, from Torquay, devon. They supplied us with our allet conqueror mkII mower, they hire machinery and also do pretty much all maintainance work, they also gave me a rough quote of 50k to level and drain our pitch, which is exactly what the sport england protecting playing fields grant will offer as a maximum figure, and as a charity commission playing field we don't have to add any part funding. If only I could get the committee to apply that is...
Devon garden machinery did actually offer me a charterhouse levelspike for £1200 +vat with 90% good knives left on it, which apparently will cut down to 8" or so, but amazingly our committee said this is too expensive, they would seem to rather spend 2k + on ploughing... Banging head against brick wall!!!!
We're not a big club, and only play devon and exeter premier league football, and I have only taken the managers job this season, but I have played a lot of football at differing levels, but im not a person who turns to make do whether it be players attitude or the way the pitch is treated, and im so frustrated at the caution, or lack of interest I'm not sure, that some of our committee show...
Unfortunately we have had to use a 1ton roller recently to knock the bumps down as our pitch was looking like a field that cows had been left out in, but we did have a local farmer lend us his browns slitter to use briefly.
I did also have someone offer to sell me a towed aerator, which apparently is like a roller with 65mm spikes on it, any ideas if this would be useful for our pitch and training area if we have nothing else? Any thoughts on that?
Oh and David there's no chance in hell I would ever see any money as our manager, n I personally have subsidised the tracksuits to try n make us look a little less of a rag tag bunch...
Thanks all...
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peter p
Posted 29 Mar 2013
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you would need a tractor for any towed machinery rolling doesnt flatten out bumps and does more harm than good if poss a compact tractor with a sisis quad would be a good investment coupled with veti draining/earthquaking as much as poss every season . Also a roller mounted rotary mower would be good for cutting and light rolling . On top of this pitch management is important cancelling games when wet and not allowing training on the pitch all help good luck.
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Steve R.
Posted 29 Mar 2013
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Posts: 32

Cheers Peter, we do have a playing field tractor with sports tyres, a ford I think, which when working we did use to slit the pitch after it was rolled.
I did try to use our allet conqueror triple mower to knock down the bumps, but it didn't really have much affect the the heavily cut up areas, apart from making hell of a mess of the cylinder rollers. That's why we turned to the lighter big roller our playing fields have otherwise games would be unplayable for not just the rain.. I understand what you are saying about rollers, and until recently I had threatened to step down if they used one, but unfortunately needs must to gets games played....
Have you any thoughts on the 65mm drum aerator I mention?
Thanks...
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Ian Reid
Posted 29 Mar 2013
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Posts: 10

[
QUOTE from Steve R. on 28 Mar 2013 19:48
Hi all, im after some advice regarding our football pitch.
Like everyone else we have suffered with the heavy continuous rains,but over the years our pitch has aquired two bad areas that remain very wet after the rest seems to dry well within reason.
Our pitch starts relatively level, but has what i can describe as an aeroplane propellor slope along its length.
We have, i would say roughly 10" of top soil over heavy clay. i understand clay doesnt drain well and we have little or no money as a small club to hire aerators, so forks are our main weapon of attack.
Also we currently have not got any drainage installed.
Someone has recently suggested we deep plough and power harrow our pitch as soon as the the season is finished, and then drill new grass seed. I have been told by a local farmer who has some very large industrial machinery, he can do this, and has done this for some other local clubs, and we can expect a much smoother playing surface and grass growth will be good enough for the start of the oncoming season.
Is this a good idea on a very limited budget, or will the plough & harrow introduce too much air, and in wet conditions make the ground boggy and sink to uneven levels. and will the grass grow in time...?
Any help much appreciated from a manager trying to push his local village club in the right direction..

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David Lee
Posted 29 Mar 2013
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Posts: 24

"Frustrated". No offence meant about the tracksuits, I'd forgotten your role and it's happened to us in the past. If you're free from the matched funding issue you've got to go for the grant, what's to lose (apart from your precious time and it will take a lot)? We've just got 40% of a new changing room from the Foundation, it's been a pain and it's cost us a lot but without it we'd still be in a wooden hut pouring money down the drain to keep it standing up. Keep up the battle to help proper football survive.
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Steve R.
Posted 29 Mar 2013
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Ha none taken David.
Thanks for your advice, grass roots football, you can't beat it.....
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martin adkin
Posted 29 Mar 2013
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We've been looking at getting a towed aerator recently but wasn't really sure just how good it wood be!..still not sure.

Between two of us we look after Beer Albions pitch, out of interest which pitch do you do?
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Steve R.
Posted 29 Mar 2013 Last edited: 29 Mar 2013
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Posts: 32

Martin I daren't tell you, you were there last week....
Surely you don't have many problems with your pitch, I played there last year in a torrential storm n even though it cut up we finished the game, sandy soil I know. We would have been 6 foot under...
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David Ember
Posted 29 Mar 2013
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Posts: 413

FM - you need to approach these guys from a different perspective. Get a friendly local groundsman in to talk to them. Rolling winter pitches is obviously a last resort, and as for calling games off step 7 upwards, calls are made by referees. The good refs will listen to the reason of the groundsman, the arrogant ones don't. So sometimes as a groundsman you just have to suck it up and do your best.

Hopefully the committee will listen to some reason from an experienced groundsman even if you could get £2k it would go someway to doing some decent work to get some sort of surface for next year. £3k - Would allow you to seed, top dress and vertidrain to some extent.
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Steve R.
Posted 29 Mar 2013
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Posts: 32

Cheers David, yes rolling definitely has been a last resort I'm afraid, we need to do some serious fund raising, but as a small club it's difficult as your always hitting the same people for money so there's only so much we can do..
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ricam
Posted 29 Mar 2013
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Posts: 242

Frustrated manager
There is a renovation demo day at Exeter FC training ground in may, suggest you come along together with your fellow colleagues and they may learn how to carry maintenance out the correct way!
Give Steve Dommett a call he will let you have details of it etc
Richard Campey
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Steve R.
Posted 29 Mar 2013
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Posts: 32

Thanks Richard....
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martin adkin
Posted 29 Mar 2013
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Posts: 5

I see what you mean.....

We are really lucky with our pitch and how it drains but this year the constant rain has taken its toll, we've played all but two games at home(both being reserve matches) and like you we've had no option but to roll the bloody thing one to many times. Its in serious need of some decompaction and get the grass strong in the middle again.

Got to get it looking good for tomorrow!!,expecting 300+ people against seaton.
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Steve R.
Posted 29 Mar 2013
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Posts: 32

Good luck with that one mate, you seem to be able to get better squads at home. I hope you turn them over, maybe a few niggly injuries for them along the way as we have them on Monday at home...
To be fair Martin I would say the times I've been to your ground, your pitch has looked in great condition and is a credit to the hard work you obviously put in their...
I'm having problems keeping players interested let alone getting anyone interested in doing something with the pitch.. I think everyone is in the same boat at the moment with the weather though....
We are applying for a sport england grant this year if I have to shoot someone to get it done, we know our pitch isn't great with the slope on it, but at least I've made them buy a triple mower to get the grass down shorter.... Now we just need to get that grant and get it drained and levelled.... One can but dream...
Good luck tomorrow mate, I eagerly await the result....
Cheers...
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martin adkin
Posted 29 Mar 2013
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Its usually a good game,im sure they'll know they played!!

Best of luck with your pitch and for the rest of the season.
Cheers.
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peter p
Posted 30 Mar 2013
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At the end of the day whatever equipment you get you need a groundsman a towed aerator is a new one to me
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David Ember
Posted 31 Mar 2013
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Posts: 413

[
QUOTE from peter p on 30 Mar 2013 04:23
At the end of the day whatever equipment you get you need a groundsman a towed aerator is a new one to me


We have a towed spiker - it is a slit style spiker with the spikes on a drum.
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Steve R.
Posted 31 Mar 2013
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Posts: 32

Hi David, the one I've seen is like a roller with 65mm pointed spikes, is that the same sort of thing?
If so is it any good, what do you actually use it for?
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Mal
Posted 31 Mar 2013
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Posts: 1386

Nothing succeeds better than a toothless canary

I think what you are refering to FM is a Sorrel Roller, used for introducing air into the immediate top layer and is often used as an aid to fertlising, surface airation and seeding. I wouldn't think that this would be at all suitable or effective in your situation. The very best that you should aim for in your situation, would be the Sisis Quadraplay mentioned earlier in this thread. This has incorporated: a brush, roller, rake and surface slitter. In your situation, I can sympathise the need to level the area following a game where the surface no longer has the integraty to hold together. You would be far better working the soil a little rather than rolling it flat with a heavy roller. Alternatively you could use a chain harrow (smooth side down) in different directions and then follow with the lightest of rolls and surface spike. The first option you can achieve this in one operation. the last option will mean going over the pitch several times.
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Steve R.
Posted 31 Mar 2013 Last edited: 31 Mar 2013
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Posts: 32

Thanks mal, I hear where your coming from, and we did actually see a 2nd hand quadraplay for sale locally. Unfortunately like most things it was out of our price range.
The roller that has been mentioned I found online by typing in drum aerator to search. It does look a bit like a sorrel roller but I think it's a bit different as it has flat almost diamond shape knives rather than pointed bars. There's one on northern tool I think it is.
Our roller isn't that heavy as I can pull it myself, n I'm not mr universe, but I understand why we should put a heavy roller on it. The pitch is actually drying out quite firmly now down the middle, n as we have 3 games in 4 days this weekend it's a bit chaotic trying to keep it looking nice.
We're in the process of looking for a company or 2 in the exeter, devon area to come and advise us. I do actually have a mate on the ground staff at exeter chiefs, but he finds it difficult getting time to come and help out..
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vid
Posted 31 Mar 2013
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I would imagine that if a second hand quadraplay is outside your budget then you arent going to achieve much in the way of remedial action- as pointed out above the seed fertiliser and water costs alone are in the thousands so embarking on ploughing and power harrowing with little equipment and an inadequate budget is extremely foolhardy. I would suggest that the basic maintenance advice above should be followed until the job has been adequately underwritten or you could end up with no football at all!!
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David Ember
Posted 2 Apr 2013
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FM, similar it is a piece of ancient kit and I am struggling to find a picture. We use it as much as possible during the winter to keep the top surface open. As many others this year we have been forced to chain harrow, and use a quadraplay to get a smooth surface so in between we use the spiker.

Mal has pretty much summed up our regime above - we have however had to go over with a heavier roller at times due to other issues we have with the pitch - hopefully these will be rectified at the end of the season with some quite extensive work.
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