As a new year begins, it is perhaps a good time to reflect on what you have achieved last year, and then plan what you want to achieve in the coming year.
Keeping records and monitoring the performance of your turf facility should be encouraged. How can we be expected to know how to improve the condition of the sward if we do not recognise or understand its current state? Always keep records of the work you have carried out and the materials/products you have applied. Also, take the opportunity to take soil samples to monitor soil nutrient status and level of soil ph. When taking core samples, you can also keep an eye on thatch content and soil moisture content.
To help you remember and record the facts, use a digital camera.
For most parts of the country, we have seen one of the wettest Decembers on record and temperatures staying well above freezing. This bout of warm wet weather will have exacerbated the likelihood of disease outbreaks on bowling greens. Also, If you have had any snow, keep an eye out for an outbreak of disease (snow mold). Snow can act as an incubator and induce the incidence of disease. Treat with an appropriate fungicide.
It is important to ensure you are carrying out your daily brushing to keep the surface clean and, at the same time, removing any early morning dews. Keeping the playing surface clean and dry helps prevent disease and contamination. This can be achieved by using brushes and dragmats. Also, brushing of the green will help the sward stand upright allowing good air movement around the grass plant.
January /February is a good time to take soil samples and get them sent off for analysis, enabling you to get them back in time to start your new year's maintenance. Ideally, if you have not had one done before, you should have a full (PSD) Particle Size Distribution soil analysis done to tell you the actual make up of your soil profile.
Soil is made up of percentages of clay, silt and sand. The PSD Analysis will identify the ratio of these and confirm soil type, thus giving you a better understanding of what soil you are dealing with.
Also, you can establish the amount of organic matter (OM) content as well as soil nutrient status and soil pH. With this information you will be able to identify the needs of your soil.
Useful Information for Soil Sampling
|The soil food web - undoing the myth||Soil Analysis|
Subject to ground conditions, you should be maintaining your winter height of cut at between 10-12mm. To help monitor the correct height of cut, use a prism gauge.
Brush daily if possible, to remove morning dews, and help prevent disease and contamination.
Useful Information for Mowing and Brushing
Facts about mowing
||Bowling Green Grass Seed|
Should be continued throughout the winter, when conditions allow, using a range of aeration equipment in the form of vertidrain type machines, solid tine punch action aerators, slit tines and sarell rollers to keep surface open .
Useful Information for Aeration
|Why should we carry out aeration?||Genuine SISIS Tines|
Generally, no fertiliser applications are made during the winter months, as plant growth has slowed down. However, some groundstaff may apply a dose of liquid iron to colour up and provide some strength to the grass plant.
Useful Information for Fertiliser
|Plant Nutrition - food for thought||Fine Turf Fertilisers|
Machinery and sundries: keep machines overhauled and clean. Arrange the servicing of your machines ready for the new season. Keep an eye on your material stocks (seed, topdressing, petrol, oil ), remembering to replenish as required.
Perimeter fences and hedges: most bowling green facilities are enclosed by fences or hedges. January is a good time to complete any tidying up of these features. Hedges can be pruned and cut to maintain their shape and form.
Repairs: carry out any repairs to ditches, paths, gates, floodlights and other building features. Ideally, you should have your floodlights serviced on a annual basis to check that they are safe and operating to the correct lux values. Also, check that the lights are correctly positioned to prevent unwanted light pollution.