Expected weather for this month:

Drier, settled and sunnier than average to begin with, with more unsettled, wetter weather towards the end of the month.

Key Tasks for September

General Maintenance

Essential tasks in preparing pitches for play involve, mowing, marking out, divoting, brushing and carrying out aeration.

Mowing will increase as soil and air temperatures continue to stimulate grass growth.

  • Football - 50-70mm sward height
  • Hurling - 20-30mm sward height

Essential tasks in preparing pitches for play involve, mowing, marking out, divoting, brushing and carrying out aeration.

Training areas will be prone to damage from specific training regimes, such as goalkeeping drills and small sided games. Where possible, rotate the areas where these drills take place.

  • Continue cutting to encourage good sward density
  • Ensure that any equipment used is keenly set to cut
  • Regular brushing will keep the air circulating around the base of the plant
  • Deep spike to alleviate compaction as and when required
  • Continue spiking when the conditions are right (this should only be carried out if the soil is suitably moist) to compliment your deep spiking
  • Keep your spiking regime flexible, alternating between surface spiking, deep spiking and slitting
  • Hand fork goalmouth and centre circle areas, if difficult to get onto the pitch with machinery

Try to keep the top 100mm free draining; this can be achieved by regular spiking with solid or slit tines to a depth of 150mm or more.

Divoting is crucial, so start as you mean to go on. At this stage of the season, the addition of seed mixed with a little topsoil will help to repair any deep scars.

Overseed sparse or bare areas. Use germination sheets to aid this process but remove the sheets regularly to check for disease. Remember that, without good seed to soil contact, the operation is useless. Ensure you use new seed as old material may not give you the required germination rates.

Marking out

  • Keep your linemarker clean
  • Keep string lines taut
  • Ensure that right angles are correctly formed. Use the 3:4:5 triangle method. The bigger the triangle at the start, the more accurate the pitch will be.

Machinery

  • Keep your machinery in tip top condition
  • Grease where you find a grease nipple, oil where you see a metallic moving part, check the oil, check the water
  • Clean it when you've finished

Pre and post match routines

Before the match

  • Check that the pitch is fit and safe for play
  • Check for debris (glass, stones etc.)
  • Ensure the surface is firm and not saturated, correctly marked out and flagged, and that the posts are safe and secure

Post match

  • Replace divots, even if it’s just the worst affected areas - it will make a difference!
  • Dragmat/brush/harrow to restore playing surfaces
  • Clean up the playing surface with a rotary mower

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

  • 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.

September marks the beginning of autumn and, for the wild grass plant, a time for May’s flush of growth, June’s fluorescence of flowering and July’s efforts of ripening to bear fruit; as the seeds dropped onto the ground in August take maximum advantage of the available warmth and adequate moisture in the soil to germinate, develop and grow. This is a process nature has set in place to afford young seedlings of the next generation the opportunity to establish a foundation, such that they can overwinter and then spring forwards as temperatures return the following year.

It is now that the turf manager mimics nature’s perfect blueprint, as across many surfaces we set about renovating at the end of the growing season.

Seed sown with good contact to the soil will be able to draw up moisture and use the residual temperature to establish. Applications of growth regulators, shortly prior to the operation, can assist in holding back competition from the mature plants already in situ.

Adequate nutrition is as important as ever. An application of energy from phosphorous helps to synthesise ATP, the energy currency of all cells. Calcium will provide the raw ingredients to drive cellular generation at the growing tips of roots and within new leaves. Additionally, it will strengthen the primary cell wall, strengthening defences against pathogenic fungal attack, particularly as cooler nights coincide with warm days to produce heavy dews.

Avoid heavy applications of nitrogen on fine turf surfaces in particular. Avoid also inputs designed to stimulate biological activity.

A productive soil ecosystem is a core fundamental of a healthy rootzone and, in turn, grass plant. That said, a soil-plant ecosystem which is too productive during the autumn can lead to an excess of nitrate nitrogen, leading to soft growth more susceptible to fungal diseases.

Pests

For Chafer Grubs, Entomopahogenic nematodes can be applied throughout the month. Warm soil temperatures and available moisture are conditions which play nicely into the hands of Entomopahogenic nematodes who swim in the water film on soil particles in their bid to search out a larval host.

Worms will also take advantage of the morning dews with casting becoming a problem on many areas. There are no legal controls for earthworms and anything applied which directly affects or deters them is done so illegally.

The responsible course of action is cultural management via a combination of localised surface acidification, removal of grass clippings to reduce their food source and sanding of surfaces to assist in the drying out and dispersal of casts.

Compiled by James Grundy - Senior Technical Manager | BASIS No. R/E/7542IFMAT

Start thinking about your end of season renovations, and how you may be tackling the possibility of an extended season and the need to get onto the pitches to carry out the work. Start to build your strategy and get it down on paper. Look at what resources you will need - manpower, materials and machinery.

With reference to your machinery needs; if it's part of your inventory, drag it out, dust it off and fire it up to make sure it will work for you when you need it. If you don't have it in your inventory, but you know someone who has, a neighbouring club or school perhaps, particularly if you are on good terms with them; you may come to some arrangement to borrow it when they are not using it.

Alternatively, look at the option of hiring. There are a growing number of hire companies these days that are now specialising in the hire of sports ground equipment. With reference to your material needs, get them ordered now so that they are on hand when you need them.

Weekly checks:

  • Check posts are secure
  • Check team dugouts are stable and anchored securely. Make sure that they are tidy and free from litter
  • Repair and maintain fence lines