Sowing seeds and seeing off pigeons

The sound of one man clapping at Forsyth Barr Stadium is not the sound of a poorly attended game.

It is turf manager Michael Watson's attempt at scaring off pigeons so they do not eat the freshly sown grass seed on the stadium’s pitch.

Earlier this week, the stadium’s turf renovation began with the top layer of soil and grass being stripped back.

Yesterday morning, more than 150 Dunedin residents arrived at the ground after winning competitions on social media and local radio stations to throw out some of the first grass seed.

Then yesterday afternoon, Mr Watson said a special machine was used to spread it evenly.

Steven and Tracy Smith help spread grass seed on the pitch at Forsyth Barr Stadium yesterday, as part of the turf renovation. Photo: Craig Baxter
Steven and Tracy Smith help spread grass seed on the pitch at Forsyth Barr Stadium yesterday, as part of the turf renovation. Photo: Craig Baxter
It was hoped grass would start to pop up later this week, but until then, he would have his hands full, trying to keep hungry pigeons at bay.

‘‘They love the seed. We keep them out with some loud claps. It gets them jumping.

‘‘If you hear clapping in the stadium 24-7, it’s me.’’

Steven and Tracy Smith, of Dunedin, are huge Highlanders fans and have season tickets.

They were delighted to win an opportunity to spread some of the first seed, because they could put it on the field in front of their season ticket seats.

‘‘This is basically where we sit during the season. We can look out and see our little patch of heaven.’’

While it may appear as though all the hard work on the turf renovation was complete, Mr Watson said it was really just beginning.

‘‘This is when it will get really busy. We have to manage it pretty closely — disease management, monitor watering more carefully, different applications of fertiliser, just try to get it as strong and as mature as possible.’’

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