Where can we get a tool for measuring compaction and how much is one likely to cost?

It is important to understand compaction as it can affect root growth, cause water to run off and can reduce the playability of sports facilities. And if we are talking about ground for growing crops or for landscaping, it can make tillage difficult. This can mean up to 90 per cent more power is needed to create a seed bed or prepare the ground for turf or planting.

I have used two different types of equipment for measuring compaction in turf. A soil compaction tester or penetrometer will tell you if your soil is compacted and how severely, and at what depth the compaction occurs. This instrument comprises a long metal spike that is pushed into the ground. A dial on the top measures the pressure required to force the spike into the ground. Measurements are usually given in psi.

Penetrometers are available from companies specialising in scientific instruments but you can also buy one through a grounds maintenance company. BLEC Landscaping Equipment offers a compaction tester for £230 ex VAT. Contact BLEC on 01778 346222 for more information.

The other type of instrument is the Clegg impact hammer. The instrument measures deceleration and produces an electrical pulse that is converted into a Clegg Impact Value (CIV). Repeated drops across an area will serve to "scan" compaction variations across that area.

Various weights of Clegg hammer are available. For turf, including golf greens, cricket wickets, tennis courts, pitches, and horse/dog racing tracks we tend to use hammers from 0.5kg to 2.25kg hammer. The 2.25kg hammer is generally used for synthetic-turf surfaces.

Clegg impact hammers are also available from scientific instrument companies, including JMW of Harlow, Essex. Call 01279 307100 for further details.

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