Graden scarifier proves its worth
By David Markham
Groundsmen at Bradford's premier cricket ground have made good use of their Graden scarifier.
Chris Cay, co-Groundsman at Park Avenue, which is the headquarters of the Bradford-Leeds Universities Centre of Excellence, said: "We have a Graden scarifier, which can go down to a maximum depth of 50mm.
Many of the common scarifiers available are OK with damp surfaces only, but the Graden will penetrate any dry hard surface, such as cricket squares, which makes it such an efficient tool.
We bought it for Park Avenue at the beginning of August after trialling it last autumn. There are so many benefits such as scarifying, aerating, and leaving grooves for a seed-bed, all in one operation.
The rubbish it gets out is quite amazing, and its use has been seen and endorsed by the ECB pitches inspector Chris Wood as well as inspector for Yorkshire area Jonathon smith .
An Australian engineer Graham Dryden originally designed the Graden scarifier for Melbourne City Council.
It is also used now at the MCG".
Chris Cay, who comes from Melbourne, said: "Cricket wickets in Melbourne are around 60-80 per cent clay while here in England they are around 30 per cent clay. Graham Dryden came up with something that is really aggressive to cut through that heavier 80 per cent clay.
Its use is sweeping through the golf industry in America and now it is growing in popularity in Europe and the United Kingdom. Most of the cricket counties are finding out about it and quite a few have bought it. There are quite a few machines in the south and now their use is spreading to the north.
We hired the machine last year and we were so pleased with the results that we bought a machine of our own this season.
Since we started using it we have got rid of most of the thatch and the benefits of using it last autumn have been cleaner surfaces this season and pitches are drying and firming a lot quicker and therefore play a lot better.
I have also used it at Bradford League club Pudsey Congs where I look after the ground and I will use it at other league grounds in the region for their autumn renovation work.
We have got the square at Park Avenue at about 80 per cent how we want it. The 210 ft of practice area is our current project. There is a lot of thatch in it because, basically, the maintenance procedures since Yorkshire stopped playing here in 1997 have been minimal.
We are working with the thatch problem through scarifying, organic fertilisers, and thatch degrading treatments, all which seem to have helped and we have also managed to raise our p.h level from 5.2 prior to last season to 6.0 at present.
The feedback we have had from the players and the umpires at Park Avenue is excellent. We get lot of umpires from the first class panel for our university matches. The umpires say the pitches play quite well and are not far away from surfaces at other first class
We will be also scarifying and aerating the outfield over the autumn and winter. Recently we have had outbreaks of fusarium on it due to this summer's wet and mild conditions, but we seem to have checked it now through regular brushing and verticutting.
Once we are satisfied that the scarifying on our squares has left a clean, fibre free surface we hope to introduce a new rye cultivar, sauvignon-margarette, which rated quite well on the recent Sports Turf Research Institute listings".