The Groundsman

March 2014

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With parts of the UK experiencing the wettest January since records began, coupled with the saturated ground conditions compounded over Christmas, the life of a groundsman has never been less enviable. To avoid pitch deterioration into an abhorrent state, clubs are having to take the unpopular decision of calling games off: with standing water on a playing surface, safe and coherent match play is impossible so calling off games is the only sensible decision. However, the financial repercussions and fixture congestion caused by such cancellations mean groundsman are coming under increased pressure to push their playing surfaces to the limit. With most clubs and council-run natural pitches facing two to three fixtures a week, the recent weather has either led to substantial lost revenue or untold damage to playability for the remainder of the season. While the majority of grassroots football clubs do not have the budget to install a full-scale drainage scheme, more minor works can go some way to improving the durability of the playing surface. These include a mid-season verti- drain to ensuring you are spreading an appropriate sand and utilising wear tolerance grass seed. Every surface has unique challenges and a quick on-site consultation can help to put in place measures that will bear fruit when conditions deteriorate. Working with local suppliers and contractors enable clubs to act quickly when the conditions are favourable, and a good relationship with local amenity suppliers and consultants will ensure you are applying the correct materials. Even if this winter's deluge is exceptional, we have seen a steady increase in rainfall levels during the key playing times for rugby and football clubs and, without small scale investment, clubs will face tougher economic conditions as more games are cancelled and players migrate to clubs with superior facilities. Funds have been pledged for grassroots facilities by The FA and the RFU, as well as Sport England, but making a successful and realistic application can be the stumbling block. Your local IOG regional pitch advisor is available to assist with any applications and to work with you to make long-term improvements to your playing surfaces. Our thanks to Bourne Amenity for this month's column The IOG's panel of experts answers your questions regarding groundsmanship issues, turf care advice, careers guidance or training matters Ask The Expert Please contact membership@iog.org if you have a personal query or would like to share your views with our readers – we'd love to hear from you IOG ADVICE 31 the Groundsman March 2014 With record rainfall, what measures can we take to improve the durability of playing surfaces if we can't afford full-scale drainage systems?

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