0 LDCA Drainage Day at Bisham Abbey

LDCA Drainage Day at Bisham Abbey

By Laurence Gale MSc


Well over 50 delegates attended the recent Land Drainage Contractors Association (LDCA) Drainage Day held at Bisham Abbey's National Sports Centre in Buckinghamshire.

The Land Drainage Contractors Association is a Trade Association whose Membership include land drainage contractors, manufacturers of drainage machinery, drainage pipes, and suppliers of drainage products.

The main purpose of the LDCA is to promote the benefits of land drainage, and provide quality standards of good current practice for drainage installation as well as spreading the importance of using experienced, properly equipped contractors.

The delegates arrived from around the UK and some were from overseas. There was a mix of delegates that included Local Authority Managers, College's, Contractors and consultants along with growers and manufacturers of seeds, pipes and rootzone materials. There were also ten delegates from the Danish Contractors Association.


The day was chaired and began with an introduction by Eddie Seaward, Head Groundsman of the All England Tennis and Croquet Club, who welcomed everybody to the Drainage Day and duly introduced the guest speakers.

First speaker was Tim Colclough from Turf Trax, his talk introduced some background information on soils and basic soil physics of water movement through soils.

Particular attention was directed at capillary water movement in soils. Demonstrating that the use of the wrong materials can often have catastrophic consequences on drainage schemes. Choosing the right sands and gravels are a key issue when designing drainage schemes.

The second speaker was John Hacker from Professional Sports Design (PSD) who discussed drainage design and construction. He began by stating a number of facts about what issues should be addressed prior to any drainage scheme being drawn up. Certain facts that should be known?

Know your site?

  • Topography
  • Water outfall and output capacity.
  • Precipitation Rates (rainfall)
  • Soil type
  • Intended usage and level / standard of play.
  • Budgets available.

John then talked about the different types and cost of drainage schemes currently available, ranging from simple primary/ secondary piped drainage systems that are still employed on many Local Authority pitches today through to the intensified sand based construction drainage systems that are available.

Once these criteria are known a suitable drainage scheme can be drawn up and constructed, making sure approved drainage contractors are used to complete the works.

However, one of the biggest problems facing our industry is the lack of maintenance achieved on many of these newly constructed schemes once they have been Installed.

The Third Speaker Any Cole (PSD) presented a talk about maintenance of sports pitches.

Andy began by discussing what the aims and objectives of effective maintenance programmes should be, which in the main is determined by what type of facility and level of play you have. School, Club, County or professional?

Maintenance of facilities is usually down to limiting factors, what "Andy calls the four M's".

  • Machinery.
  • Man Power.
  • Money.
  • Materials.

All these factors will have an influence at what level you can maintain your facilities.

Andy then went on to talk about specific tasks and frequencies of maintenance operations. These included end of season renovations, mowing, fertilising, aeration, irrigation and pest control all of which play an important part in keeping the sward maintained and able to perform to the standard and levels expected by the end user.

The last Speaker was Karen MacDonald, Senior Sports Facilities Manager from the Football Foundation who gave an informative talk about the Foundation's work and the new initiatives it is providing for sport in the UK. This now includes a goal post safety scheme and sports playground marking programme. Karen highlighted a few key facts about funding projects and what monies had been allocated by the Foundation.

  • Funding well over 1,600 projects at a value of £350 million pounds.
  • Total grants over £185million.
  • Inward investment of £175million.
  • The supply of 8,000 free kit vouchers for junior teams.

Karen also gave details about how to make an application for funding and discussed what information was expected from the claimants with regard to their applications.

Once the presentations were over there was some healthy debate about various issues regarding the use of certain materials and scientildca-2005-day-demo.jpg

After such an informative morning the delegates made their way to the canteen for lunch and refreshments.

After lunch we were ushered towards the fine lawns and sports pitches of Bisham Abbey where we were shown a series of demonstrations by members of the LDCA.

Robert Donald of White Horse contractors took up the megaphone and began describing the technologies involved in laying drainage pipes using laser-guided Mastenbroek trenching machinery.

Other demonstrations enabled the delegates to see operations and practices associated with sports field drainage and renovation techniques. These included deep tined aerators, de-compacting machines and sand slitting machines.

All in all it was a very informative day. There was much opportunity for all those attending to share experiences and make new contacts. This in time will benefit and move the sports turf drainage industry forward.

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You can contact the LDCA at: www.ldca.org/

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07973 394037

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