Happy new year to you all. I hope you can continue to improve the quality of your playing surfaces in the coming year. The only way to ensure you are improving is to record and monitor relevant information about your facility and maintenance regimes undertaken.
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.
January is a good time, whilst it is quiet, to plan and get yourself organised. What are your targets for this year? What do you want to achieve? Have you organised your spring renovation works? Have you ordered materials and machinery for the forthcoming season?
|Early in the Month||1st - 15th January|
Once the snow and ice melts, many pitches will become saturated leaving them prone to damage and wear.
The heavier the soil the longer it will take for the pitch to dry out. It is important that once the game has finished some remedial work is carried out to repair the divots and stand the grass back up. Care should be taken not to further damage the pitch by trying to get machinery on when the pitch remains wet and saturated.
Usually, the first job after matches is to reinstate any damage, putting divots back and repairing damaged turf, this is usually done by hand using a fork. A rubber rake can also be used to help stand the grass back up in localised wet muddy areas; if left buried the grass will soon die. Once this has been completed the use of harrows/brushes can be used to stand up the sward.
This is often followed by rolling back the surface using a mower or, better still, a SISIS Quadraplay unit or similar type of equipment.
|Later in the Month||16th January - onwards|
January /February is a good time to take soil samples and get them sent off for analysis thus 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.
Aeration: Frequency - when conditions allow - hand or machine aeration to aid surface drainage, varying depths of penetration to prevent the development of a soil pan. As last month, if there is opportunity to aerate, then do it. Regular winter aeration provides air space for the roots to expand into and allow the plant to breathe.
Brushing/sweeping: Frequency - daily. To remove dew and remove surface debris. Using a brush or a SISIS quadraplay will restore levels and produce striping or banding aesthetics.
Harrowing/raking: Frequency - when conditions allow. Use prior to and after matches; harrowing helps to restore levels and keep surfaces open.
Useful Information for Aeration, Brushing and Harrowing
|Why Aeration?||Machinery Spares, Blades, Cylinders & Tines|
Mowing/cleaning up playing surface: Using a pedestrain box mower (cylinder or rotary ) will help clean and prepare the surface for matches.
Maintain sward height at 50mm-75mm. Ensure your mowing blades are kept sharp and well adjusted. Cutting grass in very wet conditions can often be detrimental to the playing surface. The mower may smear and damage the surface, especially when turning. The quality of cut can be affected if the grass is very wet.
Divoting: Frequency - after games. Playing surfaces are becoming wetter, increasing the likelihood of surface damage during games. Repairs and replacing divots after matches is an important part of the maintenance programme to restore playing surfaces. The use of a hand fork to lift depressed turf and gentle pressing with the foot is the best way to return/replace divots. However, on larger areas the use of harrows will help return levels.
Marking out: Frequency - as required. Playing pitch surfaces can often become muddy and very wet in January, which may sometimes affect the performance of wheel to wheel transfer line marking machines. To overcome this problem, other marking systems are available. Pressure jet and dry line markers are able to produce lines on uneven and muddy surfaces. Care should be taken when initially marking out new lines, ensuring that they are true, straight and measured correctly, using the 3,4,5 method to achieve accurate angles.
There are a number of machines available for marking out lines, wheel to wheel, spray jet, dry liners and aerosol markers. The choice will be dependant on cost, efficiency and the type of line you want. Ensure the machine is clean and ready for use. Always wash down the machine after use; if you are not likely to use the machine for a few days it would be advisable to empty it. Particularly with spray jet markers, keep connections clean; spray with WD 40 to help keep it protected.
Useful Information for Pre and post match maintenance regimes
|Croke Park - In the name of love!||Line Marking Paints|
Generally, no fertiliser applications are made during the winter months, as plant growth has slowed down. However, some groundstaff do apply a dose of liquid iron to colour up and provide some strength to the grass plant.
Useful Information for Fertiliser
|Fertiliser Efficiency||Scotts Greenmaster Pro-Lite Fertilisers (Fine Turf)|
Keep and eye on fungal disease attack, and use approved fungicides to treat infected areas. Early morning dew on playing surfaces often promotes the chance of disease attack. Regular brushing off the dew will help prevent an attack of turf disease.
Drainage: Frequency - weekly. Inspect drainage outfalls, channels and ditches. Ensure that they are working. It is important to ensure that pitches with primary/secondary sand bands/sand groove drainage systems are kept operational. During wet conditions these bypass systems often get capped over by surface soil, thus reducing their efficiency. Regular spiking and annual sand dressing of the pitch will keep these drainage channels open and working.
Machinery (repairs and maintenance): Frequency - daily or after use. Inspect and clean machinery after use; service and repair damaged machinery. Do not forget there are other ways of getting equipment for a particularl job, such as hiring or borrowing from another local sports club/golf club.