BRADFORD PARK AVENUE
Groundstaff at Bradford Park Avenue cricket ground have declared war on thatch. Responding to our previous on article on hollow coring at Park Avenue, Chris Cay says: "The main reason we hollow core is thatch and there is plenty of it in the outfield at the moment. Since Yorkshire last played at Park Avenue in 1997 the ground has built up an abundance of this fibre we call thatch, dead fibrous matter/tissue which leads to an inadequate drained, spongy surface.
We have been working on the problem with the squares and are continuing to do so because they are a priority. The thatch content has prevented us from producing firm, true, fast surfaces until now so we`ll see what this season brings after our extensive work.
There are three squares at Park Avenue, one on the nursery ground where the thatch was so bad that we had to relay it completely in May 2000. The other two main squares and practise area were heading that way until we introduced a thatch removal programme a year and a half ago consisting of vigorous scarifying with four types of scarifiers - thatch away machine from Greensward, Sisis pedestrian scarifier and verticutter, tractor mounted scarifier and Graden scarifier.
The Graden scarifier had the biggest impact for us with the ability to scarify to depths up to 45 mm. This tool is the latest in the greenkeepers' and groundsman's armoury to tackle thatch and, by results all across the US golf sector and now into Europe and the UK, it is fast becoming the ideal choice for thatch eradication.
That is apart from a Koro machine of course, which removes a measured slice of the surface. That is great but it is very expensive and a unknown quantity on cricket surfaces. It has been used on some surfaces in the UK, but, until now, mainly football.
Also, we`ve used used treatments of an organic micro biological liquid (called Stormforce typhoon) input which, coupled with aeration and scarification and the soils being at the right temperatures helps to degrade or break down the thatch. This solution releases thousands of microbes into the thatch profile. It also helps prevent breakouts of disease and dry patch.
Also, regular soil analysis have been carried out until now with my college at Myerscough in Lancashire which showed organic matter (thatch basically ) at the level of about 13 per cent. This should be in between four to 12 per cent ideally. So, we have some way to go.
I`m currently doing a level NVQ 3 and need to document all work (theory and pictorial) into portfolios. I`ve also introduced an organic fertiliser-feeding programme using the Terralift range of products which has had fantastic results such as rapid germination, which helps to reduce thatch, helps to prevent disease, cuts fertiliser bills and good colouring without excessive growth. The product has hit the golf sector by storm and I'll certainly be sticking with it."