Keeping sports grounds in top condition challenging
A very dry autumn has meant that getting the district’s sports grounds ready for the busy winter sports season has been challenging.
“Quite a lot of work has been done at the various sports fields to get them in top condition. Lack of rain has meant that some parks are dryer than we would like for this time of year and the results of the work done are not so obvious,” said community facilities manager Terry McMillan.
“The Oval has been relevelled and is looking good. To achieve this we have had to irrigate the grounds. It is not possible to irrigate all sports grounds due to the costs involved.”
Sports fields that sit on a clay base are particularly firm at the moment. This has forced the rugby union to move junior rugby to an alternative venue. The grounds are still being used for practice.
Over the last 12 months Council has installed new drainage in Nelson Park and some patching of grass has taken place at Awapuni Stadium. Apart from the normal mowing and fertilising, new grass has been sown at several grounds including Tolaga Bay.
“Lack of rain has been a real issue in Tolaga where the ground has been closed since the beginning of the season. The new grass has not grown as fast as anticipated due to the lack of rain and at times the park has been a dust-bowl. The ground has now been mown for the first time and will be in use this weekend.
Weed control has also been a focus for sports grounds with herbicides used to control Cape Daisy prickles in Kelvin Park. Nelson Park has been sprayed for paspalum. This lumpy tufty grass is a menace for any ball-on-the-ground sport like cricket and soccer; both which are played at Nelson Park. If the ball hits a tuft of paspalum it will tend to go awry. The spraying programme has been effective at controlling this grass and has helped to improve the surface of the ground.
Next season however the spray used to control paspalum will be revisited. AGPRO MSMA 600 is the industry standard for controlling paspalum and has been used by council contractor Peter Barron. The Environmental Risk Management Agency (ERMA) has withdrawn this product from May 31 this year due to its potential to accumulate in the environment. Nelson Park has been sprayed with this product twice in the last 10 years. “Accumulation of harmful chemicals is highly unlikely at this rate of application," said Mr McMillan. “However we're currently getting the soil tested to ensure that this is the case.