As sports turf consultants and turf agronomists, Gilba Solutions offer a wide range of agronomic services. These include soil and water testing, sports field auditing, remote sensing of climatic conditions and turf health assessments.
The aesthetics of a sports field are only one of the factors to consider when evaluating the quality of a turf surface.
The players major concern is ground safety and performance when subjected to play. This is an increasing issue with increased use of multi-use venues and council grounds.
Agronomic services – Sports Field Audits and remote sensing.
As turf agronomists our sports field auditing services allow monitoring of sports surfaces. By using the latest GPS-enabled remote sensing technology we can:
- Map, measure, and monitor turf characteristics.
- Reduce pesticide, fertilizer, and water use.
- Measure soil moisture, salinity, and turf health.
- Identify any issues with surface hardness and sub-surface compaction.
- Understand the reasons for a turf condition.
- Produce an easy-to-understand report with management recommendations.
- Provide a field improvement program, based on the data collected.
- Determine if any issues exist with use such as hours of play.
- Identify any problems with drainage, soil, and turf selection issues, and finally
- Identify any limitations relating to fertilizer, labour, etc.
Measures soil density, how well a surface can cope with wear, and compaction. A cone penetrometer can identify any problem areas so that work can be better targeted. This in turn leads to a healthier root system and better drainage.
Turf Health assessments:
Using an NDVI or a light box allows early detection of any existing or future problems.
As turf agronomists this saves time and money, and you can use the data to identify disease issues, the impact of shade, or even excessive wear.
Soil moisture mapping:
We use the latest GPS-enabled soil moisture sensors to map the moisture distribution, identify problems, and to conduct irrigation audits.
Clients who have used our services include:
- The NRL;
- Sydney University;
- Accor Stadium;
- CommBank Stadium;
- Knox Grammar;
- Kings School and
- The ACT Government.
A GPS-enabled NDVI shows turf health and here it is mapping heavy wear through the central corridor of an NRL ground.
A digital penetrometer maps out soil compaction and identifies any existing subsoil issues that may be present. Here the generated image shows surface compaction.
A soil compaction metre is a useful tool to identify areas need compaction relief, whether work carried out is to the right depth and if it has dealt with any identified issues.
A shade study using an NDVI at Comm Bank Stadium shows the impact of shade on turf health over the winter months.
Turf agronomist services – Sports field audits.
There are several factors that contribute to the amount of use a sports fields can take. These are:
- The type of construction;
- What age are the players? Older players cause more wear than children;
- What turf type is present? Turfgrass varies in its ability to take wear;
- When is it being used? The time of year has a big impact on wear and recovery and
- How much rain has fallen when it is used? A wet field is more prone to damage than a dry one.
Below is a brief summary of hours of ground use and what effects this.
- Try and limit use to 14-18 hours per week on a well maintained sand based field;
- Be aware that use of a ground during the winter months has the most impact on turf quality as growth and recovery are slow;
- Work at the STRI shows that for perennial ryegrass:
Soil field (with or without drainage).
Sand profile with drainage.
5.3-11 (7.8 hours per week over 35 week season).
Sand carpet construction.
Turf type has a major role in the hours of use for a ground as shown below assuming fields are irrigated sand carpets or full sand root zones.
Winter playing season
Summer playing season
General Rules to maintain surface quality:
- Avoid training in high-wear areas like goalmouths;
- Rotate training activities to spread wear;
- Carry out repairs as soon as possible;
- Repetitive drills are killers, so do not carry these out on the field of play and
- Carry out regular maintenance work like aeration etc.
Turf agronomy services – Trials and Product Development.
Gilba Solutions constantly aim to develop and improve products in the market. This philosophy lead to the development of the turf pigments Vertmax® and Vertmax Duo® in 2020. Our recent focus is on soil wetting agents and we are currently looking at a number of wetting agents at a trial site in Sydney, NSW. We are monitoring VMC, surface hardness, turf quality and organic matter levels. Stay tuned for results as we get them as this is still ongoing and only commenced in November 2022.
Other Turf Agronomy Services.
Agronomy is the study of soil and as turf agronomists this is a major strength of Gilba Solutions. Soil testing provides information on a soil’s physical and chemical properties. The value of a soil test depends on several quality factors:
- How is it samples?
- What analysis is carried out and
- The actual interpretation of the results.
In the worst-case scenario, ignoring any of these factors can make soil testing pointless. In Australia, we are one of the few companies that employ a qualified soil scientist, and our reports are tailored to meet our client’s exact needs rather than being driven by a “one shoe fits all” philosophy. Soil testing tips:
- You can carry out soil testing at any time of the year;
- Don’t take within two weeks of any application of a fertilizer containing phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, or calcium;
- This is a contentious one as many companies advocate testing every year. However, unless you have a particular problem or you are testing a sand based construction, testing every three years is fine.
The issue of water quality is often overlooked by turf managers. However, when you consider it not only impacts turf but also on the results you get from turf chemicals it is something that should be at the forefront of mind. The chemicals present in water:
- Impact soil chemical/physical properties and subsequent turf performance;
- Effect the rate of alkaline hydrolysis and
- Can impact on tank foam.