Significant investment in the Plainmoor pitch & first team training pitch is underway.
Despite the Plainmoor holding up very well last season, work has commenced to further raise the standard of both playing surfaces.
“It is a massive improvement and reflects a huge investment,” said head groundsman, Chris Ralph. “This work will raise the overall standard of the Plainmoor pitch and the work being carried out at Seale Hayne is essential to maintain a high standard training surface throughout the season. I also have a complete set of new machinery on the way to help keep our usual high standards.”
The work is being completed by established sports ground engineers, Inscapes. Plainmoor was first up, and work will begin at Seale Hayne soon.
There is a lot of technical detail around what is happening, so let’s start with Plainmoor.
First, the old playing surface is removed in a process called ‘korrowing’.
“Inscapes stripped the surface and power-harrowed and cultivated the pitch,” said Chris. “We’ll get some better levels – the surface should be smoother with fewer highs and lows, so less puddling in heavy rain.
“The power harrowing and cultivation helps to break up all of the top root zone. Another advantage is that we will have significantly aerated the root zone. It will break up black layer which sits in the soil; it’s a layer where gases build up and struggle to escape. We should get deeper rooting for the grass and better surface drainage”
Plainmoor has suffered in the past because of insufficient drainage. Being a clay-based pitch, water isn’t able to permeate well enough through the surface, but the new drainage should help significantly.
“We’re had initial primary drainage channels installed,” said Chris. “It consists of lateral piping placed across the pitch spaced every five meters. Last season the margin between having a game on, and it being postponed, was small. This work will help in tipping the balance in our favour.
“It will help with the firmness and consistency of the pitch. It will help with getting more games played through the season and will be more resilient to heavy rain. It won’t guarantee a game no-matter what the weather, but it will further improve the odds in our favour.
“We will look at how the pitch reacts during the season and during the winter and may look to further work at the end of the season.
“We’re installing a central irrigation system as well,” added Chris. “Because it is a clay pitch, it dries hard in the summer.
“We have a perimeter automated system in place, and we’re now adding a central system. Small, turf-capped sprinklers will pop out of the pitch and perform the irrigation.
“It will cut down on the use of the hose and watering the pitch by hand. It provides a more consistent and even watering of the pitch. We can also turn it on at night, which is the best time to water the pitch. It takes in the most water without risk of it burning off in sunlight. You encourage the grass to grow deeper through the root zone this way.”