Can Moles be used to improve football Pitches?
Cranfield University's Sports Surface group recently presented the results of a £65k research project funded by the Football Foundation at a seminar held at the
In 2004-2005, the Foundation provided the funding for the mole drainage research project at Cranfield to investigate this alternative technique, which pulls a bullet shaped foot through the soil to make a drainage channel. The technique is limited to certain types of clay soil but potentially, there are significant cost savings as this technique is expected to cost ca. £9k per pitch with much reduced 'on-going' maintenance charges.
Seminar delegates from across the industry heard how the project compared the effectiveness of both sand-slit and mole drainage at a specially constructed pitch at Cranfield University and at a number of sites across the country, monitored by project partners, TurfTrax GMS Ltd. The project demonstrated that the mole drainage technique, if conducted properly, in the right soils, is capable of providing similar drainage performance to sand slitting, but at a much reduced cost. The technique is not a panacea for all sports surface drainage problems, as it is limited to the heavy clay soils of a particular type - but it is often these soils which exhibit the biggest drainage problems. Technically, there are also important aspects of machinery design and operation which are critical to the success of a mole drainage scheme.
Dr Iain James, project leader, said after the seminar, "Following the initial success of the mole drainage research at Cranfield, discussions with several key stakeholders in the project, including the FA, the Football Foundation, the Land Drainage Contractors Association and the Institute of Groundsmanship will focus on how this technique
Cranfield University will be publishing guidelines with the Football Foundation on how to achieve successful mole drainage, based on its research in both academic and industry journals, and will be running training programmes for both consultants and contractors in the industry.
For further information, please contact Dr Iain James on +44 (0) 1525 863037 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Delegates at the 'Putting Mole Drainage into Practice' seminar, held at Silsoe, inspect the sports mole plough developed at Cranfield with Dr Mike Hann of the Cranfield Centre for Sports Surfaces.
The bullet shaped mole plough foot (left) is pulled through the soil to form the mole channel (right) which is connected to the surface by the leg slot and other cracks in the soil to allow water to be moved away from the surface, draining the pitch.