A decent topsoil or rootzone profile is essential for supporting grass plant growth. During my travels I see too many examples of poor sports pitches, with the main culprit being the use of poor quality soil/rootzome materials. It is essential you know what materials you are dealing with.
Typically, a soil is made up of three main components, sand, silt and clay. The amount and distribution of these components will determine the classification and performance of your material.
A soil texture triangle is used to classify the soil. The sides of the soil texture triangle are scaled for the percentages of sand, silt and clay. Clay percentages are read from left to right across the triangle (dashed lines). Silt is read from the upper right to lower left (light, dotted lines). Sand from lower right towards the upper left portion of the triangle (bold, solid lines). The boundaries of the soil texture classes are highlighted in blue. The intersection of the three sizes on the triangle give the texture class. For instance, if you have a soil with 16% clay, 11% silt, and 73% sand it falls in the 'sandy loam' class.
Clay and silty soils do not drain very well while a more sandy soil does. The performance of a pitch is driven by the classification of the materials used.
Most modern day sports pitches tend to be constructed with high (90-100%) sand content to aid the drainage performance of the pitch. Heavy soil based pitches tend to be less free draining.
One of the other biggest problems with sourcing materials is consistency of product. All too often an unscrupulous contractor will supply you with inconsistent or non specified materials.
To help control the supply of sand and soils, and ensure that the customers get what they are paying for led to the formation of the British Rootzone and Topdressing Manufacturers Association (BRTMA).
The BRTMA was formed to look after the interests of members and customers alike. At the time of its formation it was felt, by the founder members, that a gap existed in the amenity sector for producers of quality construction mixes and topdressings to demonstrate their ability to offer a consistent and repeatable standard of appropriate materials, using the best working practices.
The Association was therefore formed by a group of industry specialists able to comply with the conditions of membership. A testing house was appointed using standardised procedures so that materials from all member companies were tested along identical lines.
All member companies have approved products which conform to current USGA guidelines and supply product in accordance with the BRTMA's Guidelines for the Purchase & Supply of Rootzones, published on 1st February 2008.
The member companies wish to demonstrate to all sectors of the Turf Industry that they are able to offer approved, repeatable and quality controlled products for the construction and maintenance of sports turf areas. By demonstrating this ability it is hoped that, in future, specifiers will nominate their requirements from members of the Association, secure in the knowledge that they are purchasing from the industry specialists.
Over the last 40 years a combination of research and practical experience has allowed the identification of the types of material that are most suitable for sports and amenity surfaces. A vital requirement is then to be able to produce such materials to a consistent quality. The formation of the British Rootzone and Topdressing Manufacturers Association is an important development in ensuring the supply of materials to high standards of specification and quality control, so that suitable materials are available for the varied applications on turf areas.
Current BRTMA members
Baileys of Norfolk
Tel: 01603 754607
Banks Amenity Products Ltd
Tel: 01858 464346
Bathgate Silica Sand Ltd
Tel: 01270 762002
Tel: 01536 510515
Bourne Amenity Ltd
Tel: 01797 252299
Tel: 01525 237911
Mansfield Sand Co Ltd
Tel: 01623 622441
Tel: 01202 537777
Rufford Sports Surface Technology
Tel: 0845 357 3030
Tel: 01260 277 377