Whilst the Yorkshire Carnegie team are putting in the hard work during the off season to be right for the new campaign, the club’s ground staff have been matching those efforts on the Headingley Carnegie pitch.

For the third consecutive year, Headingley Carnegie hosted the Pitch Focus event last Thursday in conjunction  with our partners Everris. Grounds Managers from across the country gathered for the event in Leeds to see some of the latest innovations and developments in sports turf management and maintenance.

With groundskeepers from all types of professional sports including leading clubs in Premiership football at Headingley Carnegie for the day, they took the opportunity to make a full day of it and catch some Super League action when the Rhinos took on Castleford that night.

Whilst it was great once again to host the Pitch Focus event, it was a huge public test for the Headingley Carnegie surface after just a 19 day renovation window, especially for Head Groundsman Ryan Golding in front of his peers however as expected the pitch passed with flying colours and even resulted in a tweet from leading Australian broadcaster Andrew Voss during the live screening of the Castleford game down in Australia. 

And may I say re @SuperLeague How good does Headingley look!One of the greatest league grounds on earth.@leedsrhinos @CTRLFC @FOXSportsAUS

— Andrew Voss (@AndrewVossy) June 11, 2015

The annual renovation started the day after the Rhinos win over Hull KR with the team only getting back on the pitch for the warm up on Thursday night. This essential task is carried out in the biggest gap possible in the growing season from April to September which this season was just 19 days.

To put that into context the majority of stadiums have a period of around 45-50 days. This causes unique challenges for Head Groundsman Ryan Golding and his team as the aim of completing the annual renovation is to clean out the poor grasses such as annual meadow grass, plus also cleaning out the actual surface itself from any organic matter that has built up.

As you can imagine, ideally Golding would like slightly longer but to combat this, his team also complete ‘mini’ renovations throughout the season in between games.

The whole renovation process involved the club’s contractors Premier Pitches coming in and heavily scarifying down to a depth of 10mm, taking off around 15-16 tonnes of poor grasses and organic matter. The next step was to disc seed in 4 different directions then overseeding with a dimple seeder to give complete surface coverage. The benefit of the disc seeder is that you get faster and stronger germination as it cuts into the surface, leaving a perfect bed for the seed. Altogether 320Kg of perennial ryegrass was applied to the pitch.

On top of that they would generally topdress with a medium grade sports sand to aid drainage but this year Golding decided to hold off this stage until the grass cover thickens up as to not make the surface appear sandy.
Aeration using the vertidrain followed to aid rootgrowth, air circulation and surface de-compaction. The vertidrain went down to a maximum depth of 130mm as any lower and we would be in danger of hitting the undersoil heating pipes.

Over the coming days balanced granular fertilisers, liquid fertilisers and bio-stimulents are applied working in conjunction with Everris who we have a very positive relationship with and work very closely with at the stadium.

The renovation went extremely well and Golding is very pleased with the results even after a slight dip in temperatures last week.