Testing ground hardness
By Lee Jackson
Our pitch is now constructed with a concentrated fibre sand mix incorporated with our existing soils to see us through our last season at Maine Road
The testing consists of twelve drops in twelve areas across the pitch, so there are 144 results providing a mean value. He works to parameters set by the STRI as preferred and acceptable to a Premiership football pitch. Russell comes here three times a year to do the testing, and lets us know whether the pitch is too firm, too soft etc. The scale range is measured as impact values (IV's) the lower the reading the softer the surface. Ideally we are
Throughout the season the readings will change, as ground hardness is affected by types and regularity of aeration, grass length and coverage and the inclement weather. 5mm change in grass length can change the impact value by 10%.
Here at Maine Road, we are regularly spiking to get air in the ground and promote healthy roots, the aeration program also stops the surface compacting too much, but it is always a fine balance between providing the above and over spiking.
As we are moving to the new stadium at the end of this season, we felt it was unnecessary to spend a lot of money on the pitch, but with Premiership football again, there was a need to improve the surface.
We decided that the most economical way of moving forward was to strip off the existing grasses and import and spread 300 tonnes of concentrated fibre sand on to the area. This was then ameliorated with the top 75mm of soils on the pitch to provide a 100mm reinforced root zone profile.
So far, and we're nearing the end of September, the pitch has performed magnificently. There is little in the way of divots and the time to put the pitch back after games has been reduced, enabling us to spend more time on other pitch management techniques and our training facilities.
Due to the presence of leaf spot, we resisted mowing for 24 hours either side of application so the leaf could absorb as much of the product and fight off the pathogen.
We are also letting the grass grow a little now as we move into the cooler weather, and we have raised the height of cut from 22mm to 27mm. On Monday this week, we topped the grass off at the new height, but we have left the ground as open as possible until tomorrow, when we will be preparing the pitch for Saturday's game.