Unique insight into pitch matters at second Pitch Focus

Posted on July 22, 2014 at 12:00 PM

While last year’s inaugural event took place solely on the rugby pitch, home of Leeds Rhinos and Leeds Carnegie, this year’s took full advantage of the stadium’s unique offering of first-class cricket and top flight rugby to offer a day of learning and discussion across a diverse range of turf maintenance issues.

The day was staged by Everris and partners Syngenta, Bernhard, EnviroMonitors, Lely Toro and Campey Turf Care Systems, along with the venue’s Head Groundsmen, Ryan Golding and Andy Fogarty, and their teams.

Innovations on the outfield

The morning session was spent visiting the stations presented by Syngenta, Bernhard and EnviroMonitors which were situated on the cricket outfield.

Syngenta’s station addressed the specific challenges that spray application at sports stadia and training grounds presents. Such sites can be exposed and windy with areas of steep slopes and uneven ground on pitch surrounds. They’re often areas which are under public scrutiny and turf managers are required to fit applications around play and training schedules. Caroline Carroll and application specialist Tom Robinson explained how XC Nozzles counter such issues and provide even coverage of the leaf surface as well as working on undulations and reducing drift. This means that product gets down evenly to where it is needed. Using a tractor-mounted sprayer, they demonstrated the importance of sprayer set-up to fine tune performance and results, along with the importance of accuracy checks, including the easy to use Syngenta Calibration System.

On the Bernhard station, Steve Nixon, Scott Purdy and Jonathan Templar addressed the importance of surgically sharp mowing equipment for improving turf health and performance. With Bernhard’s Express Dual and Anglemaster sharpening system set up pitchside, guests were firstly shown how quick and easy it is to sharpen a bottom blade with the Anglemaster and a cylinder blade with the Express Dual. The Bernhard team then demonstrated the correct way to set up a mowing unit, including the importance of the correct bottom blade angles, and the session concluded with guests using macroscopes and prism gauges to look at the visible results from a comparison cut between a sharp and a dull blade.    

The EnviroMonitors team of Jacquie Holdsworth and Jim and Steve Copeland along with Steve Rogers of Davis UK, introduced a range of handheld tools and equipment to help turf managers optimise their time and inputs using factual data rather than guesswork. Attendees were able to take sample readings with the FieldScout Soil Moisture Meter and FieldScout Tru Firm Meter on the outfield. The data gathered can be relayed to specialist software where it is recorded and analysed to help the turf manager make decisions about inputs and practices and monitor conditions over time. They then took a closer look at meters which monitor light, pH and chlorophyll, and the Davis on-site or remote weather monitoring equipment.

At the end of the morning session, attendees were given a rare opportunity to walk out to the square with Andy Fogarty and ECB Pitches Consultant Chris Wood, who demonstrated the pitch inspection he would conduct before a Test match. The duo provided the group with a detailed look at three pitches each in different stages of preparation and renovation. The first was used for the Test between England and Sri Lanka which saw Sri Lanka take victory by 100 runs. They then saw the match-ready pitch for that evening’s T20 Blast game between Yorkshire Vikings and Leicestershire Foxes before viewing the pitch for the forthcoming County Championship fixture between Yorkshire and Durham.  

Irrigation, innovation and plentiful insights in the afternoon session

After lunch, the group took to the rugby pitch to visit the stations presented by Lely Toro, Everris and Campey Turf Care Systems.

Roger Lupton and Robert Green from Toro irrigation distributor Lely UK built a working sprinkler rig at their station to demonstrate a range of sprinklers for sports applications and conversion assemblies that change existing sprinklers to Toro. After observing the capabilities and efficiencies of the T7 and TS90 Turf Cup in field sprinklers, attendees had the opportunity to see the new patented Infinity series sprinkler in action. Designed with to save turf managers time with the system’s future in mind, Robert showed how its Smart Access design provides easy access to all of the sprinkler’s critical components without digging.    

Focus turned to the home surface at the next station as Henry Bechelet partnered with Leeds Rugby Head Groundsman Ryan Golding to explain how Everris has worked to support the reconstruction and maintenance of the rugby pitch. They described the testing that is carried out to guide turf nutrition and develop an effective fertiliser programme and explained how the disease management strategy is helping sustain turf health in quite testing circumstances. Dr Andy Owen then joined in to show the results they’ve obtained by analysing nutrient leachate from the drainage system to better understand the losses from sand-based pitches. This information is helping inform decisions about the pitch management strategy and the type of fertiliser applied to minimise such losses.

Campey Turf Care Systems showcased some of the best innovations in turf installation, maintenance and renovation machinery at their station. David Briggs and Ian Campbell discussed the results obtained by turf managers around the world, including Graeme Farmer at Aston Villa Football Club who used a Koro Field TopMaker with the new Universe® Rotor to transform the management of the club’s training grounds. The Koro totally cleans the surface of unwanted grasses and thatch build-up, leaving it ready for re-seeding and aerating. Attendees also had the opportunity to take a closer look at the Vredo disc seeder, the Raycam Aeraseeder, the Imants Shockwave and the latest aerator in the Campey portfolio, the GT Air2G2.

The sunshine enjoyed by everyone during the day continued into the evening as the attention turned to cricket and the all-action T20 Blast match between the hosts and Leicestershire. The Vikings came out on top in a game which featured one of the best boundary catches in recent years from Adam Lyth and Aaron Finch.

Commenting on the success of the day, Ed Carter, Sales & Development Manager for Everris, said: “Teaming up with other companies to share our research, experiences and insights was fantastic and the feedback we received after the event showed how much guests enjoyed the outdoor, interactive format.”

“What really made it a standout day was the input and enthusiasm of the two groundstaff teams and Chris Wood. To be at such a unique venue and to be welcomed onto the playing surface in the midst of intensive match preparation was a real privilege. We thank Ryan and Andy for being such generous hosts and Chris for opening our eyes to the issues affecting groundsmen preparing pitches in the First Class game.”


Source: Everris Limited