July Rugby League Diary
By Laurence Gale MSc
The playing season is now two thirds completed. The cycle of preparing for matches and post match maintenance continues throughout the month.
Mowing regimes at this time of the year should be more frequent ranging from mowing every day to at least three times a week. However, some clubs may only mow once a fortnight or weekly due to the lower budgets or resources they have available. The benefits of mowing regularly are many - increased sward density, increased resilience and wear tolerance, coupled with improved aesthetic values and surface playability, which in turn encourages players to perform more confidently.
Cutting heights may range between 25-75mm with many stadium facilities tending to keep their sward height at around 30mm.
It is important to keep the mowing blades sharp as poorly adjusted blades will tear the leaf blade, which can put the grass plant into stress, thus encouraging the likelihood of disease and die back in the leaf tissue.
Watering and aeration will be key operations to help keep the sward in good condition. Watering will be essential during dry and warm conditions. It is important to replace the water lost by evapotranspiration. Irrigation will be a priority during the summer months to ensure turf grass quality is maintained.
There may be a need to irrigate during any renovation programmes, as air temperatures increase and day light hours are getting longer, increasing the likelihood of the ground drying out. Ensure that the water gets down deep into the root-zone to encourage deep rooting. Allowing areas to dry out can lead to problems of dry patch, a condition that prevents water infiltration into the soil and thus forming areas of non-uniform turf quality. Further information about Irrigation of sports surfaces can be see on link. Irrigation
Aeration is the process of ventilating the soil beneath the grassed surface, ideally without disrupting the turf's surface characteristics. Most soils will need aeration if they receive wear from traffic, be it human or mechanical.
Traffic on a turf surface compresses the soil beneath. This compression or compaction of the soil particles reduces the pore spaces between them. Compaction reduces the amounts of available oxygen that is held within the pore structure that is so vital for root growth, water movement and general plant health.
Any decrease in the size and number of soil pores will lead to many detrimental effects on the grass surface above. Drainage rates will be reduced and the rate at which water enters (infiltrates) the soil will also decrease, meaning a wet, soggy, un-usable surface for long periods after rain or through the winter period. Heavy compaction actually prevents the grass plant rooting as the pore spaces in the soil are too small to allow any roots to penetrate.
Most clubs will be using tractor mounted aerators that come in a range of configurations and sizes. The frequency and timing of aeration will vary, according to the site conditions and resources available. Some clubs will aerate weekly but, in the main, a monthly cycle of aeration will suffice.
Fertiliser treatment and turf tonic 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.
Grooming and verticutting are operations that remove unwanted side 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.
There are a number of marking machines available for marking out lines, wheel to wheel, spray jet, dry liners and aerosol markers. The choice will be dependent on cost, efficiency and the type of line you want. Ensure the machine is clean and ready for use. Dirty line markers often effect the quality of your line marking.
It is preferable to use water based products for line marking and logos. Other materials may kill or scorch the grass.