New guidelilnes on rolling

New guidelilnes on rolling

1. Pre-season rolling is recommended for the majority of clubs. Over-winter wetting reduces the bulk density of the square between cricket seasons (see Section 1.4). Following autumn renovation and during the winter period, many pitches / squares will have been subjected to some form of mechanical aeration or decompaction which can also reduce density. If groundsmen did no pre-season rolling at all, the soil would increase in density as it dries and shrinks but early rolling can help to reduce re-wetting of the soil from spring rainfall and encourage quicker natural recovery of soil density as the pitch
will dry more quickly. Pre-season rolling is a good idea – it might be possible to get away without it, if there is: minimal post-season de-compaction (but not to the detriment of a healthy root system); a warm dry climate; and a good cover system – but that's not the case for most cricket clubs in the UK.

2. Don't start until there have been at least two continuous good drying days – warm temperature (more than 10°C), a breeze and no rain. There is an optimum moisture content for rolling. If the soil is too wet, compaction will not take place (see Part 1). Don't just get the roller out because it's February, don't start too early – it could be wasting time and fuel and causing horizontal soil movement Initial rolling can be undertaken after a minimum of 48 hours of dry weather but
any increase in density will be minimal until soil drying increases later in the spring. This process does help with smoothing out surface levels on the pitch – removing any over-winter or autumn renovation irregularities. If there is a known high thatch or organic matter content then leave your pitch to dry for longer (minimum 3 good drying days) because moisture retention is increased.


3. Start with light rollers but build up roller size and ballast as soon as soil conditions allow (i.e. without creating a bow wave or deep creasing between pitches). The practice of starting rolling with very light rollers (mowers) early in the spring does little to increase pitch density other than in very low density pitches (below 1.25 g/cm3) such as new constructions. Some sealing of the soil surface may occur, reducing rain infiltration into the profile and reducing moisture content a little, however any benefits will be limited and largely aesthetic. Whilst soil moisture remains high, the moisture/density combination within the soil rather than the roller weight is likely to be the limit to increasing density. A gradual increase in roller weight will result in the same final density as using the heaviest weight of roller throughout. Be cautious with roller weight to avoid surface damage from horizontal movement, but the roller with the final desired compactive potential (see Section 1.6.4) should be used at the earliest opportunity to minimise the number of roller passes.


4. Limit rolling sessions to 4-5 passes of a 2-drum roller over each area then stop and allow a couple of drying days. Then build up roller weight and get out for another session of 4-5 passes. Finish with a session of 4-5 passes with the heaviest roller when the pitch has dried in-between. Guidelines for spring roller passes have to be a broad recommendation as circumstances are different from club to club in terms of density and soil moisture.  No more than five roller passes would be beneficial at any one moisture content/roller weight combination. After the initial rolling in spring, at least one further rolling session of 4/5 roller passes could be productive if soil moisture has reduced. Further rolling will only increase density if the roller used has not reached its compactive potential and the soil moisture content is close to optimum or if there has been rainfall for prolonged periods that has caused the pitch to swell.


5. If possible, cover the pitches/square to help with drying but don't limit grass growth as healthy grass is a very effective pitch drying system. Although spring rolling has an important effect on pitch density, the main benefit is from reducing the overall moisture holding capacity of the soil so that the pitch profile is ready for match preparation when the playing season begins. Playing seasons that start early, before vigorous grass growth, will need the use of covers to aid in the reduction of soil moisture, although the drying process will be slow due to low early season temperatures and high humidity under the covers. 6. The practice of cross rolling in a 'Union- Jack pattern' over the square can help to ensure even compaction across the square. Follow this method initially but be aware of variations in construction across the square which could cause different pitches to be at different moisture contents.


The guidelines, aimed at both professional and volunteer groundstaff, are available to download from the ECB website

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