STAGE 2: PROFILE INVESTIGATIONS
To use aeration to solve problems, aeration equipment must be matched to the problem. To identify the problem you have to take a look at the profile and to do this means extracting a sample from the surface.
In the outfield, this is relatively easy using a sharp spade or ‘Turf Doctor’ to remove a section of the outfield which can then be investigated and replaced – this should then regrow if watered carefully.
Taking a sample from a dry heavily compacted cricket pitch can be a challenge however and it is important that it is done carefully to provide an accurate sample and to avoid affecting ball bounce.
Pitch samples are best taken with a corer, which helps to remove a clean cut sample that can be replaced to limit damage to the pitch. Corers generally fall into two types. The 2” (50 mm) diameter split corer can be driven into the surface to a maximum depth of 250 mm using a rubber mallet. 250 mm is the limit, in reality it is often harder to extract cores greater than 200 mm in length100 to 150mm is sufficient for profile examination
Once hammered into the surface, the corer is then removed and one half of the corer pulled up to reveal the profile; with information on how the soils behave obtained when the core is left to dry naturally for a few days. This is the method used by County Pitch Advisors who are able to offer a core sampling and analysis service – contact your County Cricket Board for details.
Figure 1 Taking a core from a cricket pitch using a split corer. The mallet is used to drive each side of the corer into the pitch in alternate parts. Picture courtesy of Chris Wood © ECB 2012.
Figure 2 The corer is hammered into the surface by hitting in each side by about 50 mm alternatively.
Figure 3 The corer cuts a clean hole and the core can be removed by sliding up one side of the corer.
An alternative technique is to use a mini-corer which is smaller in diameter (10-12 mm) and smaller in length (around 100 mm). This means that it is less disruptive to the surface but provides a less deep sample that can be harder to extract without damaging the core itself (it needs to be pushed out).
Figure 4 Mini corer
All ECB County Pitch Advisors are equipped with soil corers and are trained to interpret them – so if you are not confident identifying your own problems – give them a call and arrange a visit –