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Deep aeration increasingly effective in tackling sports pitch compaction, reveals Aggregate Industries

11 Sep 2018

With this summer’s unprecedented heatwave having caused havoc for many sports pitches, Aggregate Industries is advising contractors of the long-term benefits to be had by deep aeration in maintaining a first-class playing surface.

It comes as Britain has faced an unprecedented period of hot weather over the past three months, with temperatures regularly reaching highs of 31°C. However, for many sports facilities, the hot spell, alongside little or no rain, has resulted in compaction, the reduction of soil pore space which can damage the turf and has a detrimental impact on drainage.

And while normal aeration and scarifying are, of course, essential to promoting a healthy sward, according to Aggregate Industries, to get to where the real problem lies, deep penetration of up to 1 metre is increasingly proving the best way for tackling compaction.

Steve Curley, Lytag general manager, comments: “With Britain this year experiencing the hottest summer on record in more than 40 years1, the task of maintaining and servicing sports pitches and other recreational green surfaces has never been more difficult for thousands of sports venues, golf courses, parks and amenity areas across the country, with compaction becoming a persistent problem.

“As soon as the heavy rains arrive, as they inevitably will during the autumn months, areas of turf compaction and panning will result in large stretches of standing water, severely affecting the playability of surfaces. Where once normal aeration and scarifying were sufficient to keep the turf healthy during dry conditions, this year’s unprecedented hot spell has seen the increasing use of deep aeration, where a hollow probe fractures the soil at up to a metre deep, opening up the fissures that will allow the water to drain and oxygen and nutrients to replenish the turf.”

Core to this process is Sportag®, an innovative lightweight solution made from Lytag secondary aggregate featuring a unique rounded shape and material properties that makes it ideal for land drainage applications. Given its porous properties, for deep aeration specialists Terrain Aeration, Sportag is essential for back filling the probe holes and finishing with the usual top dressing to encourage grass growth over the probe holes. The result is that golf greens, tees or sports pitch can resume play almost immediately.

David Green, managing director at Terrain Aeration, said: “We’ve been using Sportag for deep aeration for many years and have always been impressed by its unique lightweight properties and workability. It has been particularly useful during this extended period of hot weather, where we needed a reliable top quality aggregate product to help us restore record numbers of compacted surfaces back to playability as soon as possible. We also prefer to use Sportag because if any is spilt on the turf surface it is mower friendly in that it will crumble under the blades, unlike peashingle, which would destroy the blades.”

Steve adds: “As the UK weather become ever-more erratic, it’s important that golf courses, football pitches and the like, have adequate drainage measures in place, particularly for dealing with compaction. Sportag is an incredibly sustainable solution, with 40% void ratio which helps aid longevity, improving aeration and allowing roots to penetrate further.

It is essential to the success of the deep aeration method, with the added benefits of promoting effective drainage and high moisture retention.”

For more information on Sportag call 01904 727922 or visit

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