The official website recently caught up with Head Groundsman Stan Raby to discuss the current condition of the club's pitch and how it can be improved in both the short and long term future.
Below Stan talks at length about the problems that have blighted the playing surface this season and what measures are now being taken:
After the wettest year on record and the coldest winter for some time, the playing surface is clearly in a poor condition at the moment. After several soil samples and tests, it has been found that we have plant parasitic nematodes. All soils contain nematodes, most are beneficial or fungal feeding species which contribute positively to the soil environment. They can be indicators of good soil health.
Plant parasitic nematodes feed on plants and attack turf grass in two main ways:
Ectoparasites – these nematodes live in the soil, feeding externally on plant root cells. This causes reduced root function and abnormal root morphology.
Endoparasites – these nematodes live for much of their life cycle inside plant roots where they feed on root cells. Endoparasites usually cause major morphological and physiological abnormalities in the roots. For example, root knot nematodes are particularly damaging endoparasites and ther feeding causes severe root galling and loss of root function. Affected turf will be shallow rooted, chlorotic and will lose leaf density.
We will treat for the nematodes as soon as soil temperatures rise to three degrees. There will be three applications over the coming weeks and more soil samples will be taken to monitor the situation. Treatment will continue as necessary.
We will start renovation on the pitch in early May. We have purchased several machines from Campey Turf Care and we’ll now be able to renovate each year as necessary. We will remove 40mm of organic matter from the surface with a Koro Field Top Maker and then we will aerate the surface and apply 319 tonnes of fibre sand, which will bring the fibre levels up.
Fibres will be power harrowed into the existing fibres and we will prepare the final surface using a Harley Rotor Rake. Bringing the fibre levels up will provide more stability to the surface. We’ve purchased one of the top grass seeds on the Sports Turf Research Industry Cultivator Ratings List at the moment.
Over the following months we will be using products from Growing Solutions of Leyland, with these products relatively new to the market. These will assist with root growth development and will help supplement the lack of light in the south end of the stadium in the winter months.
Hopefully the weather will improve soon and we can start moving forward to produce a better playing surface for Paul and the first-team squad.
Blackpool Chairman Karl Oyston added: "I had a lengthy meeting with the groundsman to make sure he has the resources, machinery, staff and equipment he needs to get a first class playing surface, and to deal with any issues that caused the very poor playing surface this season. Things are in place and, barring disaster, we will have a good pitch in place next season."