0 Mole drainage may provide answer to costly works

Moles may provide answer to cost-effective drainage

CranfieldTT1CCSSPitchDraina.jpg into alternative pitch drainage methods for winter sports pitches on heavy clay soils. A successful outcome to this research could result in significant cost savings for funding bodies such as the Football Foundation and Sport England, Clubs, Schools and Local Authorities.

"We are delighted to be working with Cranfield University on this project. As consultants, we encounter many pitches on clay soil that require urgent improvements to drainage status however the requisite funding is often not available. I anticipate that the output from this project will have far-reaching implications for improving community facilities for many users" say Dr Richard Earl, Managing Director of TurfTrax Ground Management Systems Ltd.

The research, which is being conducted at Cranfield University's Silsoe campus and 5 other sites across England, will help determine whether mole drainage is a cost effective alternative to sand slitCranfieldTT4moleploughclose.jpg drainage, currently used on most clay soil pitches today. Sand slit drainage can involve high capital and on-going maintenance costs which can be avoided by using mole drainage.CranfieldTT2Closeupofmole.jpg

Using a special plough designed and built at Cranfield University, the installation of a mole drain involves dragging a cylindrical metal bullet through the soil, creating a drainage channel below the surface - the mole drain. For the channel to remain stable and functional the soil must have a high clay content; in such conditions mole drains can be effective for up to 10 years.

As the installation of these drains is much simpler than traditional methods, it could prove highly cost-effective for football pitches built on clay soils. Further more, it has the added benefit of requiring significantly less intensive ongoing maintenance and an almost immediate return to play following installation.

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"If the experiments show that mole drainage is effective, the research will benefit clubs at all levels, particularly the smaller community and recreational clubs, who may rely on pitches that would otherwise be unusable due to waterlogging. This is particularly the case where the cost of sand slit drainage would prohibit the clubs from improving their pitches." says Dr Iain James, Research Leader at Cranfield Centre for Sports Surfaces.

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Funded by the FA Premier League, the Football Association and the Government, the Football Foundation is dedicated to revitalising the grass roots of the game, constructing modern football facilities, developing football as a force for social cohesion and as a vehicle for education

Editors' notes

Cranfield University at Silsoe is the hub of the university's environmental and life sciences activity. For more information about Cranfield visit www.cranfield.ac.uk

Cranfield Centre for Sports Surfaces offers a unique, multidisciplinary approach to addressing the challenges facing managers of sports turf and prides itself on its close working relationship with all aspects of the industry, from manufacturers of machinery, to irrigation and drainage contractors and designers, to ground staff and facility managers. The centre has the official endorsement of the Institute of Groundsmanship.

TurfTrax Ground Management Systems Ltd is one of the country's leading natural turf sports field specialists and meets the criteria stipulated by bodies such as Sport England, New Opportunities Fund, The Heritage Lottery Fund, The Football Foundation, The Football Association and The Sports Council for Wales as competent turfgrass consultants. For more information, visit www.turftraxgms.com or contact richard.earl@turftrax.co.uk

The Football Foundation was launched in July 2000, by the football authorities and the Government, to provide investment into the grass roots of football. The Foundation represents a unique partnership of the FA Premier League, the Football Association, the Department of Culture, Media and Sport/Sport England who jointly contribute £53m that the Football Foundation distributes in grant aid. For more information, visit www.footballfoundation.org.uk

For further information on this project or on the Cranfield Centre for Sports Surfaces please contact Iain James, Research Leader on i.t.james@cranfield.ac.uk

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