Do moles provide the answer for cost effective drainage?

08/19/04



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Cranfield University's Centre for Sports Surfaces, together with TurfTrax Ground Management Systems Ltd, has won a £62.5K research grant from the Football Foundation to undertake research into alternative pitch drainage methods for winter sports pitches on heavy clay soils.

The research, being conducted at Cranfield University's Silsoe campus and five other suitable locations across England, is investigating the use of mole drainage and whether or not it is a cost effective alternative to the traditional sand slit drainage used on most clay soil pitches.

The installation of a mole drain is much simpler than the traditional method: using a special plough designed and built at Cranfield University, the installation involves pulling a cylindrical metal bullet through the soil creating a drainage channel below the surface – the mole drain. For the channel to remain stable and functional the soil must have a high clay content and in such conditions mole drains can be effective for up to 10 years.

Mole drainage also provides the added benefit of requiring significantly less intensive ongoing maintenance and the pitch can be used almost immediately after the installation.

Dr Iain James, Research Leader at Cranfield Centre for Sports Surfaces, said: "If the experiments show that mole drainage is effective the research will benefit funding bodies such as the Football Foundation and Sport England as well as clubs at all levels, particularly the smaller community and recreational clubs who may rely on pitches that would otherwise be unusable due to water logging. This is particularly the case where the cost of sand slit drainage would prohibit the clubs from improving their pitches."

Dr Richard Earl, Managing Director of TurfTrax Ground Management Systems Ltd, said: "We are delighted to be working with Cranfield University on this project. As consultants, we encounter many pitches on clay soil that require urgent improvements to drainage status, however, the requisite funding is often not available. I anticipate the output from this project will have far-reaching implications for improving community facilities for many users."Ends

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