By Steve Patrick.
I brief my staff on the procedures for this year's renovation at the training ground. We have decided to 'Fraize Mow all of our pitches with the Koro Field Top Maker after first reducing the mowing height to about 15mm. This helps the Koro blades to penetrate the surface cleanly aiding the removal of all debris and surface rooting grass (Poa Annua) and any surface algae and other organic material. This is important to help keep the surface open allowing air and water to move freely through the profile of the pitch.
Our next procedure is to apply a rootzone top dressing. I use Tarmac's Top Sport rootzone because it is the same material that the pitches were constructed with. It is important to maintain the consistency of the sand particle sizes and the clay/silt content. I have decided to apply 60 tonnes of dressing to each of the surfaces following close inspection of levels and pitch usage through the season.
Our next step is a soil exchange programme. We use a Toro pro core machine fitted with 16mm wide tines. The machine is set to a depth of 100mm (4") and the hole pattern is determined by the speed of the tractor travel. I look to produce a 50mm x 50mm (2"x2") pattern across each pitch. The tines on the machine are hollow and pull out a plug of pitch from every hole and leave it on the surface. Following this procedure I then use a hired core-recycling machine that works across the pitch and pulverises the cores on the surface and distributes the top dressing and broken cores evenly back into each pitch surface.
Once the surfaces have been levelled with the drag mat and brush a pre seed fertiliser is applied at a rate of 35g per square metre. This is about 12 x 25kg bags per pitch. (8000 sq.mtrs). The R14 seed mix produced by Rigby Taylor is drilled into the prepared surfaces at a rate of 10 x 25kgs per pitch. This is achieved using a Proseed-overseeding machine. My programme of renovation culminates with each pitch being vertidrained using 13mm (1/2") solid tines. The machine reaches a depth of 150mm (6") and creates a hole pattern of 75mm x 75mm (3" square).
Vertidraining helps to alleviate the compaction in the pitch caused by the season's play and also the machinery operations previously carried out. Once done we irrigate the pitches, if of course it isn't raining (Blackburn-are you serious?). This encourages the top dressing to settle into the surface, the fertiliser to 'break' and the germination of the newly planted grass seed. Apart from watering the next two weeks are possibly my only quiet times of the year. I prey for good weather and fast germination and establishment.