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Pitch Renovation Programme a success!

17th January 2019 Posted in Grounds and Latest and League by Michael Weeks

Having introduced the Pitch Renovation Programme back in August 2017 with donations from Neil Tregarthen and Penzance CC we have seen some excellent results from those clubs that have followed the suggestions.

The programme was implemented following discussions on how poor the bounce and carry was on some of our pitches compared to others that our own players play on when out of the county. To improve our own player’s ability, it was suggested that we should start by improving our pitches.

 We invited Premier League clubs to sign up and commit to following suggestions made by the county pitch advisor on how they can improve their pitches.  End of season renovation practices were targeted as these were seen to be indifferently performed throughout the county. If clubs followed the recommendations, they were entitled to free vertidraining (deep aeration) on their squares and a subsidised day course on pitch preparation from the Institute of Groundsmanship.

The results from the first year have shown that most clubs that signed up for the PRP have improved. Last summer’s drought which followed one of the wettest winters on record was certainly demanding for groundsmen all over the country and they were faced with problems that hadn’t been seen for decades.  We found that although some pitches did not receive enough irrigation which would have affected the bounce and carry, and some clubs did return to some of their old pitch preparation practices there were no complaints at all last season about any pitches in the county. The aeration that was performed on the pitches led to deeper rooting of the grass which therefore meant that pitches didn’t dry out as quickly.

This coupled with using the correct rates of the recommended grass seed mixture allowed for quicker recovery of pitches after being used and less pitches turning into dust bowls.

Cornwall was one of the only counties not to have abandonments through cracked pitches and outfields. This I believe is through the correct applications of fertiliser and grass seed which has given good grass cover on the pitches and not allowed direct sunlight to shrink the soil where grass cover had disappeared.  

All the above improvements to the clubs involved would not have been possible without the generosity of Neil Tregarthen and Penzance CC. The donations have allowed the PRP to be ongoing and it is proposed to host 2 subsidised pitch preparation courses this spring for groundsmen to attend and further their knowledge and it will also allow us to continue with the discounted aeration programme in the autumn. A contractor has also been sourced who can perform end of season renovations for those clubs who haven’t the volunteers to perform the tasks themselves but wish to join the PRP and renovate their pitches correctly. Having now seen the success of the pilot scheme in the Premier League we would like to widen the PRP to other clubs in the county who wish to improve their pitches.

Kind Regards

Simon Johnson

County Pitch Advisor