Cranfield Master Class enlightens principles of drainage
By Laurence Gale MSc
Professor Dick Godwin of the National Soil Resources Institute welcomed a number of turfgrass professionals and fellow academics to the latest Master Class seminar to be held at Cranfield University Silsoe.
The object of the seminars is to introduce and bring together a number of turfgrass professionals and enlighten them of the work being conducted at the University in respect of Sports Surface Technologies.
We saw a series of experiments that showed how water moves through different materials, demonstrating that water can be influenced by many factors. The focus was on sports pitch designs, and it emphasised how the specification and the use of the wrong materials can have serious consequences, particularly when selecting sands and gravels for use in drainage systems.
It was interesting to see from the experiments how the flow of water was affected by capillary forces. The delegates had the opportunity to see a field experiment where the University was conducting a series of trials on drainage techniques. A comparison of performance was being monitored between sand banding and mole ploughing.
Many Local Authority pitches are laid on heavy soils, so the possibility of utilising the old agricultural method of mole ploughing to improve the drainage of many of these pitches is feasible, particularly as the cost of installing mole drainage is at least four times cheaper than most sand banding schemes.
The results so far seem to show that both methods have similar drainage characteristics, the amount of water being shed from the pitch is quite similar. However, there can often be problems with sand bands with regard to settlement, particularly on clay soils, where the shrinking and drying effect of the soil can affect the infill materials.
I am sure there will be much more debate regarding these issues.
For further information about future seminars and the work of the University, contact Alex Vickers on 01525863000.