Seminar with Andy Cole
Dave Saltman: Welcome to the Pitchcare Chat forum, tonight is the first of what we hope to be a long line of interviews with Groundsmen, Green keepers and Industry experts. I am pleased to welcome Andy Cole, a former agronomist with the STRI, Andy now provides agronomy consultancy with Professional Sportsturf Design (PSD).
Dave Saltman: This is a busy time of the year for you, how is this week panning out for you?
Andy Cole: Well it started with a visit to Birmingham City following the weekends 'Party in the Park'!!
Dave Saltman: I bet there was some damage after that event?
Andy Cole: The pitch was covered with Rolatrac which protected 80% of the playing surface. The majority of damage was focused in front of the stage area.
Dave Saltman: We're quite close to the season start now-what can the Groundsman do to resolve the damage?
Andy Cole: We're not only close to the season, but also Martin has an England under seventeen International tomorrow (11/07/02)!!
Dave Saltman: He has his work cut out-what can he do in the short term?
Andy Cole: The damage is such that the only option was to make the pitch smaller and concentrate on renovation for the damaged area.
Dave Saltman: Pitch smaller!-is that allowed?
Andy Cole: The pitch is big to start with. The FA is happy to stage this friendly on a smaller pitch and it is the only sensible option at the end of the day.
Dave Saltman: So that gets tomorrow out of the way-what remedial work is required to get it ready for the season?
Andy Cole: The whole pitch will be vertidrained with maximum lift to take out the indentation of the Allytrac. The 'dead' area of turf will be scarified and over seeded. It is expected that at least 10m will need to be re-turfed.
Dave Saltman: I meant to ask, what about the goals for tomorrows game?
Andy Cole: The organisers have accepted Portable goals. They have been very understanding of the problem and have accepted this compromise. Much to the relief of Martin the Head Groundsman.
Dave Saltman: With the party in the park what work did Martin undertake to protect the surface initially?
Andy Cole: The week prior to the event the pitch was vertidrained. A systemic fungicide was applied and fingers were crossed. The covering for the pitch was expected to be on for a week.
Dave Saltman: Jim has just asked- How long is there before the start of the season at Birmingham?
Andy Cole: The season kicks off with a pre-season friendly in four weeks time. This is the reason for considering localised turfing on the worst affected areas.
Dave Saltman: Paul B has asked-are there any better alternatives to the Allytrac system for protection?
Andy Cole: In hindsight the Organiser confirmed that it would have been better to lift the Allytrac after the stage was effected. To be fair it did its job but the main areas of damage were at the entrance to the pitch, which took all the traffic. Pictures of the carnage will be displayed on the Pitch Care web site shortly.
Dave Saltman: Do you see these types of events in stadiums becoming the norm and if so is there a definitive answer to damage reduction?
Andy Cole: Interestingly, a similar event took place at Blackburn Rovers during the previous week. In this case the stage was erected within the stand and the only wear on the pitch was from spectators. In this case Rolatrac was used and preserved the surface very well.
Dave Saltman: More generally-what problems do you see on your travels at the moment?
Andy Cole: Within football stadia, leaf spot disease is prevalent; red thread too. Damping off on a localised basis has also been noted but not significant.
Dave Saltman: Anything else causing current problems?
Andy Cole: Poor growth on one Premier League pitch was eventually identified as extremely low pH!! Soil analyses revealed a figure of 4.5! Microcal was applied last week and the pitch is starting to pick up now.
Dave Saltman: You specialise more on Golf- what problems are current issues for Green keepers?
Andy Cole: After the worst spring on record, cold, dry with little or no recovery from disease, Green keepers are now starting to look forward to better putting surfaces once again.
Dave Saltman: Any other specific comments?
Andy Cole: Golfers have been particularly intolerant this spring and experienced Green keepers were questioning their abilities.With stronger, growth now taking place, closer cutting, verti-cutting, top dressing etc.have all come together in developing a better surface.
Dave Saltman: Another question from Justin- do USGA specification greens have a place in the UK?
Andy Cole: USGA is a set of parameters used to produce a 'performance based specification'. All materials used must comply to these parameters but should not be regarded necessarily as the be all and end all.
Dave Saltman: A question from John- Do you have any theories on why leaf spot is so prevalent?
Andy Cole: Dr Kate Entwistle is currently researching this question on behalf of Cranfield College. Ground and weather conditions have a significant effect and in fact all pathogens are present in the soil. Symptoms merely manifest themselves when conditions are favourable.
Dave Saltman: Which conditions do you mean?
Andy Cole: Cool, humid conditions are favourite. IF the plant is not in a healthy condition be it nutrition, compaction etc, disease is more likely to kick-in.
Dave Saltman: Steve asks- what do you recommend for the treatment of Leaf spot?
Andy Cole: Rovral, Daconil have generally worked for me in controlling this disease. Applied according to the manufacturers instructions.
Dave Saltman: With the open coming up at Muirfield, Green keepers everywhere will soon be suffering a barrage of member abuse,as to why their course isn't looking like Muirfield?
Andy Cole: Green speed is the biggest headache. Why are our greens not as quick etc. etc. Golfers should appreciate that those courses like this are prepared for a specific event and therefore conditions are not sustainable on a day-to-day basis.
Dave Saltman: How is green speed improved for this event then?
Andy Cole: Fertiliser has been kept to a minimum; close cutting and verti-cutting to stand the grass up. Rolling to, plays a role in firming up and speeding up the putting surface. Chris Kennedy was heard to say that for the Volvo open at Wentworth, the surface became 'capped' because of the intensity of the preparation.
Dave Saltman: Capped?
Andy Cole: At the end of the Tournament, the spikers went straight out to relieve the compacted surface, which prevented water penetration and obviously was not going to be sustainable beyond the week of the event.
Dave Saltman: Is there potentially long term damage at these kinds of events?
Andy Cole: The long term damage would only occur if over-close mowing, excessive rolling, reduced watering and fertilisation were to be continued beyond the week of the event. At this frequency the surface can be produced, beyond a week the quality of surface would struggle.
Dave Saltman: How do you measure green speed-do you get the putter out?
Andy Cole: Green speed is measured with a Stimpmetre. A length of bevelled aluminium 36" long down which a golf ball is rolled from a set height.
Dave Saltman: What is the set height?
Andy Cole: The ball sits in a groove at the end of the metre. The metre is inclined to 22 degrees when the ball topples out of the groove and rolls down the slope.
Dave Saltman: If it were a fast green-how far would the ball travel?
Andy Cole: Figures for the Stimpmetre fall into two categories; Tournament Play and Regular Membership Play. For a Tournament 10'6" would be fast. For Regular Membership Play 7'6" would be fast. The figure is relative to the course.
Dave Saltman: Salmon_the_fish asks:- how close would they mow for this type of tournament?
Andy Cole: For the Ryder Cup the Belfry was cut down to 2.76mm - no closer. Speed is then further improved with rolling.
Dave Saltman: What if the ground is wet?- is that a bench set height or actual height of cut?
Andy Cole: Good question. There is a difference between the actual and bench set height of cut. Using a Prism Gauge, the actual height can be measure and related to bench set. This tool is useful in showing golfers how much grass grows over a day and why pace is slower. If the green is wet it can cut closer when the mower sits in the turf. Also there is a difference where a grooved front roller is used compared to a full-face roller. The grooved roller provides an aggressive cut, which is closer than the bench height.
Dave Saltman: Given the wet weather so far this year-would you expect a backlash of dry patch?
Andy Cole: Dry patch is promoted by several different factors leading to a waterproofing of the soil. Superficial fairy rings, inconsistent irrigation, dry thatch, mounds and features all have the potential to repel water. So yes, a short spell of dry weather could see the return of dry patch symptoms.
Dave Saltman: John asks:- would you see this as one of the worst growing years to date?
Andy Cole: Yes I would John. Desperate spring weather and we are still waiting for the summer. But sadly, golfers and players are not really interested.
Dave Saltman: What treatment do you recommend for Dry patch?
Andy Cole: Non-ionic wetting agents are the recommended treatment for all aspects of dry patch initially. Obviously the underlying cause needs to be tackled but rewetting of the soil starts with a wetting agent.
Dave Saltman: Pete asks:-I have used washing up liquid before for dry patch-is that OK?
Andy Cole: For the back lawn - yes. But washing up liquid has ionic properties, which could lead to reactions with the soil. Also the excess foam with washing up liquid is not ideal.
Dave Saltman: Justin asks:- what can I do to slow down the leaching through my sandy greens?
Andy Cole: Lysimetre trials, where pipes are filled with different root zones prove that with an established grass cover, even pure sand will only leach excessive nitrogen if excess is applied. It has been proved that 4g of N applied at any one time with healthy turf will be used up by the plant and not leached excessively. A close look at the type of fertiliser applied will be a start.
Dave Saltman: What do you mean by type of fertiliser?
Andy Cole: Look at your own fertiliser programme and assess whether you are using slow release, which could be an option or if your current fertiliser is conventional quick release or liquids. Quite an in-depth topic to cover in two lines I'm afraid.
Dave Saltman: Next time then, the transcript of this interview will be available in the consultancy section from tomorrow-thank you very much Andy for your time.
Andy Cole: Much obliged Dave, thank you for the opportunity.
Dave Saltman: Thank you to all of you who have attended and asked questions-I hope that this first seminar has been of benefit.
Dave Saltman: Goodbye.