October Football Diary

By Laurence Gale MSc

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September's dry weather put extra demands on most premier pitch groundstaff with many having to irrigate their grounds and training pitches.

Diseases can still be prevalent in October, due to the cool wet ground conditions, and particulary with heavy dews on the playing surfaces, especially in the mornings. It is important that groundstaff remove these dews to prevent disease attack.

Most of the tasks detailed can be undertaken within a limited budget. Local conditions and circumstances will need to be taken into account. If any members are undertaking any specific work not detailed, please let us know by adding a comment in the section below the diary.

October tasks for football

Task

Frequency

Reason

Aeration

When conditions allow

Hand or machine aeration to aid surface drainage, at varying depths of penetration to prevent the development of a soil pan and provide adequate air space for roots to colonise. Soil organisms are still very active in October so any aeration processes will help increase microbial soil activity.

Brushing/Sweeping

Daily/weekly

To remove dew and remove surface debris. Using a brush or a SISIS quadraplay will restore levels and produce striping or banding aesthetics.

Disease

Daily/weekly

Keep and eye on fungal disease attack, and use approved fungicides to treat infected areas. Fairy rings and red thread, leaf spot and fusarium can often be widespread during October.

Divoting Derbyladsdivotting1.jpg

After matches and training

Repairs and replacing divots after matches is an important part of the maintenance programme to restore playing surfaces.

The use of a hand fork and foot techniques is the best way to return / replace divots. however on larger areas the use of harrows, will help return levels on the pitch after play.

Drainage

Weekly

Inspect drainage outfalls, channels and ditches. Ensure that they are working efficiently.

Fertiliser programme

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If grass shows signs of stress (weak growth, discoloured)

Fertiliser treatment and turf tonics can be continued in accordance with your annual programme. If you haven't got a fertiliser programme, have your soil tested; try an independent soil analysis company for an impartial set of results.

Most Groundstaff will be applying autumn N P K fertilisers, perhaps something like a 3/12/12 or 5/15/15/ (Application Rates: 14-28 bags per Ha 35g-70g/m2 25Kg Bag) (See link for fertilisers) to maintain grass colour and vigour. The choice of materials and how well they work will depend on factors such as soil type and weather, with moisture and air temperature being the catalyst for growth.

Goal postsCoMSaug03goalhigh.jpg

Weekly

Inspect goal posts and sockets to check they are safe and secure. Check nets to make sure they aren't full of holes (no pun intended).

Grooming/

verticutting

As required

Grooming and verticutting are operations that remove unwanted side grass growth and reduce the amount of debris in the sward. These operations are carried out on a regular basis often weekly or fortnightly. These operations are completed in conjunction with your mowing regimes and, as the sward is thickening at the moment, light scarification will help get more air and light into the base.

Harrowing/ raking

When conditions allow

Helps to restore levels and keep surfaces open.

Irrigation

As required

It is important to irrigate uniformly and ensuring the right amount of water is applied. Ensure that the water gets deep into the root-zone to encourage deep rooting. Allowing areas to dry out can lead to dry patch, a condition that prevents water infiltration into the soil, thus forming areas of non-uniform turf quality. Further information about Irrigation of sports surfaces can be see on link. Irrigation

Many professional football Groundsmen often have to water the pitch prior to games, to specifically speed up the playing surface for players.

Litter / debris

Daily/Weekly

Inspect and remove debris from playing surface, litter, twigs and leaves.

Marking outapril-diary-fooballmarkingo.jpg

As required

Use approved marking compounds / materials and ensure all line markings comply with FA rules and regulations.

Machinery (Repairs and maintenance)

Daily/Weekly

Inspect and clean machinery after use; service and repair damaged machinery.

Mowing

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As required

Remember to check the height of cut; at this time of year, the pitch can be cut at a height between 19mm-35mm. Continue to mow the on a regular basis. Grass should now be mowed minimum of three cuts per week, preferably removing grass clippings.

Quality of cut will be dependent on what type of mower is used. Cylinder mowers can offer different cutting qualities, which are governed by the amount of blades on the cylinder. A five bladed cylinder will give you a fine quality cut on rye grasses.

Post match renovation

After matches

  • Replace divots

  • Repair worn areas (goalmouths / linesman runs)

  • Top dress to restore levels (localised)

Pre match inspections

As required

  • Inspecting pitch surface and line markings

  • Checking post safety

  • Keep goalmouths roped off to stop unwanted early use - in an ideal world the pitch should be completely out of bounds.

  • Tidy up the edges of the pitch, strim around advertising signs and crowd barriers. Presentation on the pitch will be let down badly by unkempt edges.

Seed bare & worn areas

When conditions allow

Seeding of sparse or bare areas can be carried out. Use germination sheets to aid the process of germination but remove the sheets regularly to check for diseases. Remember that without good seed to soil contact the operation is useless.

Ensure you use new seed as old seed may not give you the required germination rates.

Weeds

As required

It's now getting late into the season for applying selective herbicides; soil and air temperatures are not ideal for effective responses from these herbicide products. Hand weeding will be the most effective method of weed control during the winter months.

Soil tests

Ideally once or twice a year, or as required.

Soil sampling is an important part of Groundmanship. The results will enable the manager to have a better understanding of the current status of his soil and turf. There are many tests that can be undertaken, but usually the main tests to consider are:

  • Particle Size Distribution (PSD) this will give you accurate information on the soil type and it's particle make up, enabling you to match up with appropriate top dressing materials and ensuring you are able to maintain a consistent hydraulic conductivity (drainage rate) of your soil profile.

  • Soil pH, it is important to keep the soil at a pH of 5.5-6.5, a suitable level for most grass plants.

  • Organic matter content, it is important to keep a balanced level of organic matter content in the soil profile.

  • Nutrient Levels. Keeping a balance of N P K nutrients within the soil profile is essential for healthy plant growth.

Once you have this information you will be in a better position to plan your season's feeding and maintenance programmes.