This article was written for Grounds Management magazine by Simon Johnson, Regional Pitch Advisor for the GMA
When a leatherjacket infestation was discovered at Constantine CC, advice from the GMA’s Regional Pitch Advisor (RPA) and nematode application has brought the field back into play.
In August 2020 I received a call from Darren Griffiths of Constantine cricket club near Falmouth saying that he had rooks destroying his pitches and outfield looking for grubs.
On further inspection we found that he had a leather jacket infestation.
I dug sample pits and found minimal grubs in the outfield, 2–5 leather jackets but under the square 20-30 per pit.
These infestations are becoming more frequent and the lack of maintenance other than mowing on our cricket outfields is resulting in them becoming full of thatch and moss which is an ideal egg laying site for the crane fly. Regular fertiliser applications and aeration and decompaction operations are required on cricket outfields to stop these moss and thatch layers accumulating.
With the help of funding from the ECB, W.R Sandow Ltd was chosen as the contractor and NemaTrident L Autumn from Bionema was the selected nematode product.
In agreement with Dr Minshad Ansari of Bionema we decided to prepare the ground using a 3m wide spring tine rake across the whole site. This task was performed in 6 directions to remove as much of the thatch and moss as we could.
We then used a vertical tine aerator to create holes at 75mm centres to a depth of 100mm for the nematodes to access the soil profile. The site was now prepared for the application of the nematodes.
They arrived in a cool box from Bionema as they must be kept between 5-10c for them to stay dormant and were mixed with NemaSpreader and water in the tractor mounted sprayer. NemaSpreader is a biological wetter that will not harm the nematodes but will help them get into the soil profile. 0.8 mm nozzles were used, and all filters taken out of the sprayer. Irrigation was not required after the application as imminent rain was forecast.
Ellis Armstrong from Bionema who came to help with the trial showed us a sample under a microscope that had passed through the sprayer and all nematodes were alive before entering the soil profile.
It was advised to stay off the playing surface for 4 days after the application to allow the nematodes to enter the ground but after this period mowing etc could be continued. 10 days after the application the contractor applied a controlled release fertiliser to aid recovery.
This picture of the ground was taken 3 months later in January 2021. The grass cover has improved, and the square has recovered well from its late renovation. During a recent visit no leather jackets have been seen.
Darren Griffiths, Constantine CC.
“Thank you so much to Simon for the advice we received as Regional Pitch Advisor after a Leather Jacket infestation had attacked our ground. The project was then put into practice by W R Sandow Ltd and Bionema who were thoroughly professional. We’ve had follow up advice from Simon and now look forward to a Leather Jacket free season where the ground for the time of year is looking better than ever before.”
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