August GAA Diary 2023

General Maintenance

  • Maintain sward height at 50mm-70mm for Football, 20-40mm for Hurling; the top height will cushion heavy falls on any hard ground.
  • Mowing will increase as soil and air temperatures continue to stimulate grass growth
  • Ensure that all areas are watered uniformly to promote healthy growth. Irrigation will be a priority, especially if maintaining newly sown or turfed areas. It is important to ensure that the water gets down into the rootzone to encourage deep rooting. Allowing areas to dry out can lead to problems of dry patch, a condition that prevents water infiltration into the soil, thus forming areas of non-uniform turf quality.
  • Linear aerators now offer alternative methods of aeration to the traditional solid tine spiker and hollow core spiker, which can install a continuous slit 10mm wide 200mm deep at 200mm centres. The machine has also been upgraded to infill with kiln dried sand
  • Brush to remove dew and remove surface debris. Using a brush will restore levels and produce striping or banding aesthetics
  • Pre-season training will be well underway, with club coaches demanding marked out areas for practices. Ensure you have enough marking materials and an efficient, quality line marker for carrying out these tasks
  • Check with your relevant governing body for any amendments to the laws and markings of the pitch
  • Care should be taken when initially marking out new lines, ensuring that they are true, straight and measured correctly, using the 3,4,5 method to achieve accurate angles

The following points are essential requirements to help achieve accurate linemarking:

  • A reliable, accurate linemarking machine
  • Appropriate, approved marking fluid
  • Careful planning and preparation (setting out lines)

Pre match inspections:

Pitch surface, linemarkings and posts.

Keep heavy wear areas roped off to stop unwanted early use.

Tidy up the edges of the pitch, strim around advertising signs and crowd barriers. Presentation on the pitch will be let down badly by unkempt edges.

GAA Artificial Pitch Maintenance

General Maintenance

  • Keep surface clean
  • Brush according to manufacturers recommendations usually after every 7 to 10 hours of use or once per week and no more than 3 times per week general rule. Keep records.
  • Remove any algae and moss from surface. Crumb Rubber filled systems require regular brushing to maintain manufacturer’s recommendations on rubber levels and pile heights.
  • Check line and seems for any glue failure or tears and repair immediately any seems left unrepaired can become a big problem quickly
  • Check fencing around pitch for loose panels
  • Make sure that goal mouth rubber levels especially along kick out areas and replace if low.
  • Clean decontamination areas out, make sure brushes at entrance and pitch signage is in place.

Artificial Goalmouths

  • The carpet is usually contaminated with debris from pitch. Brush carpet when dry to remove any clay particles. Make sure levels are ok with clay surrounds.
  • It’s a good time to raise goal mouths if the pile height of the carpet is below the bordering natural pitch. Remember raising the carpet means raising the cross bar.

Agronomy

As we wave goodbye to July, we must prepare for August, the starting point for shorter days and cooler nights.

July has been unforgivingly wet in some areas, which is a stark contrast to the drought conditions we were experiencing in June, where on average there was 42mm of rain compared to July, which in some areas has had on average 98mm of rainfall, with some seeing over 100mm! This has made July a tough month for turf managers, as we move from one stress (drought) to another stress (saturation point). Initially, following June, the rain was welcomed and much needed. However, it has felt like it hasn’t stopped in some parts. Anyone with annual meadow grass will have undoubtedly seen how this has struggled for most of the year to date, as it has rarely been out of stressful conditions and has definitely not been in that ‘happy place’. It has had to deal with wet, cold, drought, heat and now wet again.

When dealing with the weather, we now seem to face extremes more than anything else, flipping from one to another. These extreme weather conditions put extra stress onto the plant on top of the stress already present from the intensive management carried out to provide excellent playing surfaces. This can be the tipping point for pathogen populations to increase and disease incidence to occur. The sudden flip from dry to wet can also suit the development of turf diseases.

The start of August looks like a continuation of what we have had in July, rain! It is forecast for the first half of the month with improved weather to follow, although still a scattering of showers, temperatures will remain around 20°C for the majority of the month. The continued rainfall and environmental conditions will require careful management in relation to nutrition management to counteract any losses through the profile. Disease monitoring will also be required throughout this period.

Nutrition

The recent weather extremes are ultimately influencing how successful our nutritional plans are. If not already in place, adapting to a little and often approach for applications will help to mitigate exaggerated peaks and dips in performance. It is essential that plans are proactive and reactive to the day-to-day conditions and not simply what was drafted out at the start of the season. Granular fertiliser with a portion of high-quality slow release (SRF) technology offers base nutrition which can be topped up by liquids as required. Calcium and Potassium are both key nutrients when considering biotic and abiotic stress due to their role in cell walls and water regulation. Therefore, looking out for these when selecting your fertiliser is recommended.

Renovations

This can be a key month and the optimum time of year for renovations. Weather conditions can be ideal for recovery and the establishment of new seed. Seed selection is crucial for the greatest probability of success. There are fine margins between the best cultivars however; when considering seed selection, ensuring all the cultivars in the bag are from the top end of the seed tables will provide excellent results. Although ‘extras’ can be provided in some seed mixes, this is often at the expense of the quality of cultivar. No additive will change a cultivar, so cultivar quality is paramount.

Renovation will vary across the different surfaces being maintained, however having objectives planned out will increase the probability of having a successful renovation. Organic matter removal can be a major component of renovation work and ensuring that the maximum amount is removed with minimal disruption is recommended. Carefully selecting the most suitable method of removal,, to ensure the desired outcome is achieved efficiently, is important. There is a plethora of equipment at your disposal to achieve these goals. Utilising biostimulants, such as liquid seaweed, amino and humic acids, will further promote seed germination and establishment in combination with the usual renovation fertilisers. This will only add to the success of the right seed selection previously mentioned.

Disease

As we get towards the end of the month and the nights become cooler, the likelihood of dew occurrence increases significantly. This increase in leaf wetness leads to an increase in disease pressure. Whilst growth is presumably still substantial, regular mowing is still required; this means that the use of dew dispersant technology to help keep the leaf surface drier will only last for a short period of time, as the product is removed when mowing takes place. That said, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t a useful tool to help through periods of substantial disease pressure – as long as expectations of product longevity are aligned with the current environmental conditions. A small window of product performance is sometimes all that is required to get past a period of high disease pressure relatively unscathed.

Tom Wood
B.Sc (Hons) | BASIS | FACTS

Machinery

At this time of the year, it is important that mower blades are clean and sharp. Blunt blades will tear the grass and leave it susceptible to disease.

Keep machines overhauled and clean. Ensure you look after your equipment and store safe and secure, it is a good idea to get into a habit of washing down and and cleaning after use.

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