Managing sports pitches in a drought

In the South East UK we are now officially in drought. For more information see http://www.thameswater.co.uk/cps/rde/xchg/corp/hs.xsl/15371.htm).
So what does this mean for your sports pitch? In short, grass seldom dies in drought conditions within the UK. However, the longer the drought, the more you need to do in order to conserve the best quality of grass cover. Tips for you are:
• Deep spike/vertidrain to lessen cracking open in slit drains and ensure better water penetration in the soil when it rains
• Maintain an adequate degree of nutrition – though not applying excess nitrogen
• Lift the cutting height of mowers
• Reduce the frequency of mowing
• Maintain grass cover free of weeds – spray if necessary
• In spring renovation only scarify if the ground is moist and grass cover is vigorous – and not too severely
• When over-seeding ryegrass ensure seed is drilled to at least 10 to 15mm below the soil surface
• Sand dressing as a surface layer restricts evaporation from clay soils.
• Do not roll pitches
Where grey water or stored water is available conservation is still vital in times of drought.
• Ensure water penetration to at least 70mm to reduce water loss.
• Avoid light watering that does not amount to water lost by evapotranspiration
Whether you are irrigating or not I would be happy to offer free advice as we go through this drought? Just email me any queries and I would be glad to assist.

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