The Groundsman

July 2013

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22 AHEAD OF THE GAME the Groundsman July 2013 Ibrox pitch with superb grass cover Stadia and training pitch synergy The Ibrox pitch and Murray Park training ground receive the same management and maintenance programmes. The training ground, managed by the deputy head groundsman Alan Carlin, has 6.5 grass pitches of which 2.5 pitches are Fibresand and 1.5 synthetic surfaces. The Ibrox renovation programme begins immediately following the last kick of a football in May. A Koro takes off the top surface and this ensures any poa and algae infestation is broken up. The surface is rotovated and spread over 120 tonnes of Fibrelastic sand. This mixture comprises Mansfield sand and 4-5 per cent elastic threads. The sand mix is incorporated, consolidated and levelled. A Premier HG 22-3-15 preseeding fertiliser is incorporated and the pitch sown with Rigby Taylor's R14 seed mixture. On the training ground this is changed to the R11 mix. "We consider the Fibrelastic provides a surface with a little more 'give' for the players," says David. "However our major problem during the 'grow-in' is pigeons. We use Evergreen covers during this stage as the birds can decimate our seeding and would just strip the surface if not prevented. We have tried everything from hawks, bangers to shooting but really the only way to stop them is to cover the surface." The pitch is irrigated using an installed Hunter system and germination is very quick with excellent grass establishment and cover achieved in just six weeks. "After six weeks we could easily play a match on the pitch," says Ben, "but we keep the pitch free from any use for eight weeks. Also, due to the open nature of the Fibrelasic we undertake minimal aeration; perhaps maybe twice a year. One of our major problems is algae and we Sorrel roller regularly to prevent a 'cap' from forming." The pitch is cut with Dennis mowers to an average height of 28mm. A John Deere RTB 54 is used to 'hoover' the pitch to remove surface debris. Spray applications are made using a pedestrian 120 litre Technic sprayer. The Ibrox pitch has 32 full games played on it during a typical season but with warm ups, training, youth games and other events this use can be almost trebled. Linemarking is undertaken using the Impact and iGO marking system. "The whole ethos of the Rangers FC philosophy is prevention rather than cure," explains David. "All our efforts are aimed at identifying problems before they occur. By observing the turf and pitch condition, we will know what the plant needs to keep it healthy and this will allow us to adjust our programme accordingly." l Pigeons are a major pest and can decimate seed germination Visit www.iog.org for more information and digital editions

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