August Football Diary
By Laurence Gale MSc
With the start of the football season soon upon us, many Groundsmen are putting together their final pitch preparations, wanting everything to look its best for the first match. No stone will be left unturned.
Grooming and cutting will be at the forefront in pitch presentations with an emphasise on accurate banding patterns to show off the pitch. The combination of attractive banding and bright accurate pitch lines sets the scene and standards for coming season.
Frequency of mowing will increase to maintain sward height as soil and air temperatures begin to rise initiating grass growth. Remember to check the height of cut; at this time of year, the pitch can be cut at a height between 19mm-35mm. Although the recent hot weather may be causing the pitch to burn up, if irrigation is a problem then leave the grass as long as is possible (30mm-35mm) to help retain any moisture in the soil. The pitch should now be mowed minimum of three cuts per week. Preferably removing grass clippings if possible.
First impressions are critical the accuracy and choice of line marking machinery and materials are important to ensure a quality line mark is achieved. The combination of having:
The recent dry weather would have certainly tested the skills ,planning and patience of many groundstaff. Often having to work many extra hours to over see watering requirements.
Evaportanspiration (ET) rates will have been very high with water lost from both the plant and soil. It is essential to maintain soil water deficit (SWD) during dry periods to keep the grass plant growing. See following link: Sports turf Irrigation for information about Irrigation scheduling and watering techniques.
The recent hot weather may have also brought along with it the opportunity of disease attack particularly in stadium environments. keep an eye out for Leaf spot, which in recent months as been quite prolific. Use appropriate approved fungicides to treat affected areas and monitor its disease cycle.
Daconil (Active ingredient: Chlorothalonil ) is widely used to control leaf spot disease in sports turf.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 grounds staff will be applying a late summer N P K fertiliser, perhaps something like a 12/0/9 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.
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). also check you have a spare set for any unforseen circumstances.
Pre match inspections: Include, Inspecting pitch surface, 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.
Post match renovation: Include, After matches replacing divots, repair worn areas (goalmouths / linesman runs) Aeration and brushing will help relive compaction and brushing will help keep the sward standing up right. Apply some topdressing materials to restore levels if required.