The Groundsman April 2019

Page 1



APRIL 2019 £4.00


LOOKING AHEAD Meet the IOG’s most promising sports turf student


The best approach to renovating hybrid sports pitches





05 Welcome

Lights, camera, action!

Ride-on mowers and irrigation products page 39

06 Update

The latest groundskeeping news

13 SALTEX news

2018 show leads encourage repeat business in 2019

22 Technical update

Recycling synthetic turf

31 Grow with the IOG

The IOG’s safe use of machinery training

33 Award sponsor


Toro on water management

34 Technical update

Renovating hybrid pitches

37 In action

GKB and GreenMech

39 Product showcase

Ride-on mowers and irrigation

47 Tools and guidance

Maintenance tips for May

50 GaNTIP update

A pilot project for rugby pitches

FEATURES 14 Best practice

Gavin Jones’ mammoth task for the military



Matthew Skingle, IOG Toro Most Promising Sports Turf Student 2018

18 Best practice

Coventry fan Matthew Skingle is close to his dream job

26 Amenity Forum update

A new standard for amenity management work

28 Independent schools

Turfdry and the IOG join forces for Concord College




Editorial address: 28 Stratford Office Village, Walker Avenue, Wolverton Mill East, Milton Keynes MK12 5TW t: 01908 512 311 Managing editor Karen Maxwell e: t: 01908 552987 Features editor Colin Hoskins e: t: 07785 293077 Product editor Lizzie Hufton e: t: 01225 337777 IOG membership and general enquiries t: 01908 312511 e: Magazine subscriptions Jo Cornford t: 01908 312511 e: Subscriptions £72 UK, £82 Europe, £112 rest of world Publisher James Houston Head of design Simon Goddard Group ad sales manager Lee Morris e: t: 0203 859 7097 Published by James Pembroke Media

The Groundsman is published monthly by the Institute of Groundsmanship. All material is copyright of the Institute of Groundsmanship and may not be reproduced without permission. The publishers do not accept responsibility for any advertisement appearing in the journal and cannot be held liable for editorial omissions or errors. The views expressed in the journal are not necessarily those of the Institute of Groundsmanship.


Institute of Groundsmanship THE GROUNDSMAN 3

Welcome Lights, camera, action!


Karen Maxwell Managing editor

Colin Hoskins

Tottenham Hotspur FC’s new stadium is attracting many column inches in the press, including some that have focused on the way beer appears from the bottom of the glass and rises to the top in the stadium’s Goal Line Bar.

Features editor

Well, they say cream always rises to the top and Spurs’ new stadium and its two playing surfaces will undoubtedly also attract plenty of attention. Spurs will host at least two NFL matches a year over the next decade on a 3G pitch that sits beneath a hybrid surface which, it is claimed, can be ‘removed’ in 25 minutes. The new surface is longer and wider than the club’s former ground and is made up of three sections each weighing an estimated 300 tonnes and containing 33 individual trays of turf. The sections are rolled in and out by 168 wheels driven by 68 motors. Once fully ‘extended’ the outer two sections will move inwards to join the centre section and panels along the touchline will be raised by hydraulics to pitch level. The panels then close and the pitch is ready for use.

Ian Powell Regional pitch advisor

Chris Gray IOG learning programme architect

The lighting rig arrangement is another innovative feature and I am sure the very best grass seed and machinery will add to the armoury of the grounds staff at this fantastic new venue. They, I am sure, will play a key and vital role in the venue’s future success. It is timely, also, to acknowledge the work of Karl Standley and his team at Wembley who have hosted Spurs this past season. Karl has recently become a father for the first time, so he has another new challenge – let alone the 2020 Euros to manage!

Greg Rhodes Feature writer

The feature articles in this issue are a case of ‘something for everyone’, be it the safe use of machinery, waste management, contracting, a look at hybrid pitch soil science and a profile of Matthew Skingle, the 2018 IOG Toro Most Promising Sports Turf Student. That is a timely reminder that the nomination process for this year’s awards will soon be launched, so please start thinking about who you will put forward this year.

Prof John Moverley Amenity Forum chair

Robert Jackson Irrigation manager, Reesink Turfcare

Geoff Webb Chief Executive The Institute of Groundsmanship


Institute of Groundsmanship

David Snowden Agronomic Services




Read all the latest news and updates, and discover what members are entitled to


Researchers are testing a range of wetting agents


STADIUM GOAL LEAGUE ONE FOOTBALL club Luton Town has secured the final go-ahead for its planned 17,500-seater stadium. The club was granted planning permission for the venue – in the town’s Power Court district – by Luton Borough Council earlier this year, but the stadium approval relied on councillors also backing proposals for a new retail and leisure park at Newlands Park, which will help fund the stadium project.


ICL reveals three-year wetting agent project ICL IS COLLABORATING on a research project exploring the use of wetting agents that could ultimately lead to less water being needed to maintain amenity turf. The three-year project, at the Centre for Global Eco-Innovation at Lancaster University, is testing ICL’s H2Pro range of wetting agents – which includes TriSmart, AquaSmart and FlowSmart – in a series of laboratory, glass house and field-based experiments. Researcher Dr Jaime Puertolas believes new ground-breaking information could be on the horizon. “We normally modify the soil moisture by how we place the water through

irrigation type or the frequency of the irrigation application but this is another way of manipulating how the water is distributed in the soil. “We hope to generate information that could improve irrigation effectiveness and help us to better understand water and nutrient movement through soil and uptake by a plant.” Lana Farren, research manager for ICL, said: “The demand for water is increasing, with large volumes being used for irrigating crops and amenity turf. If we can improve water and nutrient use efficiency then, ultimately, we are becoming more sustainable.”


SALTEX LEARNING LIVE – CALL FOR PAPERS! IF YOU’RE INTERESTED in getting involved or have ideas on topics you’d like to learn more about, please email: or call 01908 312 511 and we’ll send you an application form for you to complete and return. The deadline for submission is Friday 19 April.



POINTS DEADLINE BASIS MEMBERS HAVE until 31 May 2019 to collect their allocated CPD points. Members can collect points in several ways, including visiting exhibitions and trial sites, attending conferences and technical seminars, and reading publications and newsletters. The number of points each member must collect depends on their qualification and membership category. For more information, visit:


ROBOTICS FIRM ROYAL REESINK HAS joined forces with Vincent Achten to create TurfTroniq, a company that will develop and deliver the technology for automated steering of Toro mowers to the UK and Ireland. The collaboration with Vincent, which has more than a decade of experience in robotising mowers, is in response to customer interest in automated steering for Toro.




Win for Beccles Town FC BECCLES TOWN HAS been crowned winners of the Suffolk FA Groundsman of the Year, sponsored by Ransomes. Chris Brown and Shaun Soloman are joint groundsmen at the club, which plays in the Premier Division of the Hadley & Ottaway Anglian Combination. Tony Adams of Claydon, the 2017 winner, was runner-up and Bryan

Chris Brown (above) and Shaun Soloman (right)

Simmonds of Bacton United 89, who won the competition in 2016, was third. Beccles Town will receive £200 to be spent on groundscare equipment, with Claydon receiving £100 and Bacton United 89 £50. Beccles Town director Mark Jermey said: “I am so delighted for Chris and Solly who have transformed College Meadow over the past few years. Their most outstanding quality, aside from hard work, is their ability to enthuse others to donate time and resources.” The groundsmen from all three clubs will be invited to attend the Suffolk FA Awards Ceremony later this year to receive their prizes.


SID BROOMFIELD SOUTHEND UNITED MANAGER Chris Powell has paid tribute to the club’s former groundsman, Sid Broomfield, who has died aged 94. Powell said Broomfield would forever be a massive part of the club’s history. “This is a man who built the ground. Rest in peace, Sid,” he said. Sid was only 30 when he was handed the task of building a new stadium for Southend United – Roots Hall. A member of the Broomfield family laid a wreath in the centre circle before a minute’s applause prior to kick off at Southend United’s match against AFC Wimbledon on 16 March.

MALCOLM SLANEY TRIBUTES HAVE BEEN paid to an ‘unsung hero’ who spent more than five decades helping to keep his beloved football club going. Malcolm ‘Malc’ Slaney, a former groundsman and honorary president of Awsworth Villa FC, has been described by colleagues and fellow volunteers as “one of the most loving and heartwarming” people you could ever meet. Club chairman Kev Buxton said Malc did every single job he could to keep everything running smoothly. “Malc was the heart and soul of the club and he will be sorely missed by everyone,” he said.


Institute of Groundsmanship


NEW SYSTEM UPGRADE EXCITING NEWS: the IOG’s new membership system goes live in April! We’ll be in touch with new log-in details to all members, so you can continue to access our services, within the next few days. If you have any problems, contact the IOG team on 01908 512 311 and we’ll be happy to help.


IOG TRAIN A TRAINER DAY THE IOG RECENTLY hosted some of its training course deliverers at the Milton Keynes’ head office to improve the delivery of training courses, update course materials and update the trainers themselves on IOG products and services. According to Dan Prest, IOG head of membership – learning and consultancy, the IOG operates around 100 courses each year and although the feedback is always high, he says: “It’s good practice to have regular standardisation meetings to ensure the quality of delivery is maintained.” If you can offer the IOG a training venue or you’re interested in becoming an IOG trainer, please contact Anita Parker at

Pictured from far right: Julien Morris, Richard Churchman, Andy Peirson, Chris Westbrook, Martin Deans, Alex Vickers, Anita Parker and Chris Gray THE GROUNDSMAN 7



MOVERS & SHAKERS Meet the people taking on new challenges in the industry



RIGBY TAYLOR HAS appointed Peter Robin as UK irrigation product manager. Peter will spearhead the company’s expansion into the irrigation market as the UK distributor of Rain Bird’s golf, sports pitch and landscape products. Peter, a New Zealander by birth, has a Bachelor of Horticultural Science degree and over 20 years’ experience across a wide range of irrigation market sectors and installations, 10 years of which have been spent in the UK. Peter lives in York but has a nationwide brief and can be contacted at or on 07741 665679.

SHAUN HARVEY IS stepping down as CEO of the EFL at the end of the season. Harvey, who has worked in professional football for the past 25 years, became CEO in October 2013. He oversaw some significant changes during his tenure, including the rebranding of the English Football League to EFL in 2016, a controversial attempt to modernise the brand and make it more attractive to the international market. He said: “Having joined the EFL as CEO in October 2013, I am proud of what we have achieved since then, in what have not always been easy circumstances.”



Peter Robin


Alex Beesley

GERMINAL HAS RECRUITED Alex Beesley as its new amenity technical sales representative for South Wales, the South Midlands and the South West of England. Alex will provide technical sales support to Germinal’s customers throughout his region and will be responsible for promoting the company’s range of Grade-A sports and amenity grass seed mixtures to turf growers, sports groundsmen and landscapers. Alex will also promote Germinal’s specialist amenity fertiliser range which includes conventional compound products as well as liquid and phasedrelease fertilisers and specialist sward conditioners.


THE IOG HAS welcomed Jo Cornford, who recently joined the organisation as finance and admin assistant. Jo replaces Sue Fernandes who has retired after 13 invaluable years of service to the IOG. We wish Sue a happy, healthy retirement and very much look forward to working with Jo in the future.


Shaun Harvey


Are you making the most of your IOG membership? We have membership packages to suit all sectors of the industry, and there are fantastic benefits, from bespoke training to discounted rates for events. Find out more at: membership/packages

Jo Cornford

Sue Fernandes




50 YEARS IN BUSINESS AN AWARD-WINNING, family firm is celebrating 50 years in business. Hertfordshire-based John O’Conner Grounds Maintenance, which operates landscape contracts from the Scottish Highlands to the Isle of Wight, plans to mark the occasion with 50-themed events for staff, customers and the communities it serves. Events already planned include creating 50 apprenticeship training opportunities.


The heatmap reveals knotweed hot spots


Interactive heatmap records Japanese knotweed infestations A FIRM THAT SPECIALISES in removing Japanese knotweed has launched an interactive online heatmap to record UK-wide sightings of the invasive plant. Exposed: The Japanese Knotweed Heatmap has already been populated with thousands of infestations and you can enter a postcode to discover the number of reported knotweed sightings nearby. Areas such as Wales, Bristol, Manchester and the Isle of

Wight are particularly badly affected. In Cardiff, there are 414 occurrences within a 4km area of the city centre. People are being encouraged to help populate the heatmap by reporting knotweed infestations using the ‘Add Sighting’ feature and attaching a photo of the plant so it can be verified by experts. You can view the heatmap online at:

ONLINE FINANCE TOOL PERENNIAL IS URGING people working in horticulture to use its online budgeting tool to help ease their financial worries. Perennial, which helps anyone who creates or maintains green spaces, is encouraging everyone to check their finances, to understand their financial situation and proactively manage their money. The tool is available at



THE NEW TOTTENHAM Hotspur stadium has opened after three years of construction. The £1bn project is the largest club ground in London, with room for over 62,000 people and a retractable pitch on top of a 3G pitch for NFL games. Spurs’ Under 18 squad was first to play on the main pitch on 24 March and the first Premier League game was scheduled for 3 April.

10 THE GROUNDSMAN April 2019


JOHN DEERE CELEBRATES FIVE MILLIONTH MACHINE JOHN DEERE RECENTLY marked a manufacturing milestone with the completion of the five millionth unit of riding lawn equipment built at the company’s Power Products factory in Greeneville, Tennessee. Originally founded as a small, satellite factory, Power Products is now the highest volume facility for John Deere and is responsible for manufacturing many of the iconic


green lawnmowers sold by the brand. The facility was established in 1988 and celebrated its 30th anniversary last July.



WE ARE PLEASED to announce we have completed the installation of 30 natural grass training pitches which will be used at the 2022 Qatar World Cup. SIS Pitches with our partners, Nakheel, built the pitches in just 10 months! #naturalgrass #footballpitch #construction


S H OWC A S E Discover the latest ride-on mowers on page 39

Electric mowers, organic fertiliser and sports blend grass




ECHO HAS ADDED a mower to V T L V A of battery-powered machines, including low noise, low vibration and no emissions at the point of use. I V battery with a run time of up to

The electric mower is




CAMPEY TURF CARE Systems is giving turf professionals a green solution to mowing, with the introduction of the Fleischmann Electric 5 Deck mower. The mower has five 2.2m cutting decks with six spindles per deck, giving a 10m overall cutting width. It also features a braked steering rear axle and the two-point pivoting front mount hitch provides high maneuverability, enabling cutting speeds up to 20kph.




GERMINAL HAS LAUNCHED an organic-based phasedrelease fertiliser which provides up to five months’ worth of nutrients and trace elements from a single application at a budgetfriendly price point. GSR T P NP fertiliser which also supplies one unit of MgO plus trace elements including copper, zinc, boron, manganese and molybdenum.

12 THE GROUNDSMAN April 2019



Each blade on the five cutting decks is powered by a low-maintenance electric motor. The six high tip speed blades in each deck give more cuts per metre and offer excellent clipping dispersal. The modern generator used to power the mower is efficient and delivers low PTO requirements, low engine revs and lower noise output for quiet operation.

The organic fertiliser solution

Recommended for use on all fine grass swards , GSR Tri-Phase’s mini-granular (1-2mm) formulation delivers a cost-effective and consistent supply of nitrogen and potash GSR Tri-Phase contains three forms of nitrogen to provide three phases of nutrient release into the rootzone.

for an optional second battery to minimise disruption. It has a robust 21in cutting deck, and wheel height adjusters with seven positions so the user can easily select different T A that comes with it can be used in any E V The blend performed well in trials


ELITE SPORT A NE INTER sports blend from Barenbrug has performed well in perennial ryegrass trials. Elite Sport scored highly at cultivar trials carried out by the STRI and the British Society of Plant Breeders. The trials analyse the performance of perennial ryegrasses under intensive wear in line with a winter sports season. Individual cultivars are scored for traits such as visual merit, live ground cover, and shoot density and recovery. The blend also includes Barcristalla, which is ranked number one in the colour, and has exceptional Drechslera leaf spot and Fusarium (Microdochium) tolerance.


The stands are perfect platforms for exhibitors to attract new business


By Chris Bennett SALTEX press officer


Five months on from SALTEX 2018 and exhibitors are still reporting a high conversion rate from leads they generated at the show


ALTEX 2018 was a show to remember at the NEC, Birmingham, with exhibitors hailing it as the most rewarding exhibition to date. Sales teams have since been working on converting a high volume of leads into new customers and many companies have reported hugely successful results. Net World Sports, a sporting equipment designer and manufacturer, made its first appearance at SALTEX 2018 and it was a successful debut, according to specialist sales and development lead Robbie Hayter.


“SALTEX 2018 has been a phenomenal platform for us, so much so that we’ve already booked our stand for 2019 and have pinpointed an even bigger space,” he says. “At the show we unveiled our new FORZA Alu110 360° football goal wheels which attracted huge interest from football clubs. We have since sold a large number to Premier League and leading international clubs. “SALTEX allowed for the introduction to many established pitch contractors and we are now working on one project which includes supplying FORZA Alu110 Goals and two-tier shelters to Colliers Park in Wrexham. “We also had the chance to network with many top grounds people and have supplied and installed indoor football protection

netting for West Ham United FC’s indoor academy training centre – a lead that came from SALTEX.” Net World Sports was not the only exhibitor to gain valuable connections with Premier League clubs at SALTEX 2018. Fivesquared, a brand of Earlsmere, is a vibration management provider, and director Jeremy Hoyle says that the company has benefited from engaging with a diverse audience. “The quality of visitor seems to be better than ever. As a result of SALTEX we have picked up some fantastic work in the Premier League as well as from a large number of schools and colleges.” Garden & Hire Spares has reported an increase in sales since exhibiting at SALTEX 2018, according to sales and marketing director Malcom Mullender. “We picked up a couple of major national accounts as a direct result of our stand at SALTEX and have seen an increase in sales from a number of accounts. We have already committed to have the same stand at SALTEX 2019.” Laurie Davies, director of SPA Power Machinery, revealed that the company is placing more orders with suppliers just to keep up with the demand for the products that were launched at SALTEX 2018. “At SALTEX we launched our new range of Westermann weed and moss brushes which has been highly successful. We are now placing regular orders with the German

suppliers and have received great feedback.” Overton UK took three stands at SALTEX 2018 and that decision has already been justified, says director Guy Overton. “SALTEX was exceptionally successful, especially for our Mean Green electric commercial mowers, which attracted new dealers and led to many demonstration enquiries. “Since SALTEX we have received a large number of orders for our electric mowers, litter vacuums and the WeedRippers.”


Commenting on the success of the SALTEX exhibitors, Charles Neale, event sales manager, said: “We understand that exhibitions are all about attracting brand awareness and gaining a return on investment. Exhibiting at SALTEX provides the platform for success in all areas. “It’s great to hear that over 90 per cent of SALTEX 2018 exhibitors obtained new business at the show and rebookings for SALTEX 2019 stands are already over 80 per cent.” SALTEX 2019 takes place at the NEC, Birmingham, on 30-31 October. For more information visit Follow SALTEX on Twitter @IOG_SALTEX and Facebook – IOGSALTEX



ABOVE The cricket square at Larkhill has attracted compliments BELOW The Gavin Jones team includes, from left: Lyndon Rowe, Dave Soul, Stuart Ford, Alan Ford, Jack Colyer, John Law, Philip Cross and George Armstead

14 THE GROUNDSMAN April 2019



By Colin Hoskins Features editor


GROUND FORCE For 11 years, Gavin Jones Ltd has managed more than 100 playing surfaces for military personnel. Now the IOG Award-winning company is ready to expand into the wider sports sector


ith eight full-time staff and two part-timers maintaining more than 100 playing surfaces across six sites, contracting company Gavin Jones has had the formidable task of preparing and maintaining the football, rugby, tennis, cricket and hockey pitches, as well as an artificial 3G surface and athletics stadia, as part of its grounds contract with Aspire Defence Services since 2008. The facilities cater for year-round use by up to 40,000 military personnel, as well as weekend and evening fixtures by civilians. The team operates from two main depots: Salisbury Plain, led by sports team supervisor James Down, comprising of team members Dave Soul, John Law, George Armstead, Philip Cross and Jack Colyer; and Aldershot, led by supervisor Alan Ford, with team members Gary Turp, Stuart Ford and Lyndon Rowe. They are jointly responsible for all amenity and stadia (three) playing surfaces at the six sites

(Warminster, Larkhill, Bulford, Tidworth, Perham Down and Aldershot), along with the immediate surrounds at each venue. Such has been the success of the work carried out by the team every year that not only have users complimented the standard of the playing surfaces – for example, two of the cricket pitches now perform at minor County level – but their achievements have also been recognised by the IOG Industry Awards, with the company securing the 2018 award for best Public Sector Sports Ground Team of the Year.


James calls on his 15 years of industry experience to lead his team; starting his career with landscaping and volunteering at his local cricket club, before a one-year ‘sojourn’ at a cricket club in Australia, and a three-year spell at Beversbrook Sports Centre in Wiltshire, prior to joining Gavin Jones. His experience at this IOG awardwinning site in the west country with

MACHINERY MATTERS The Gavin Jones sports ground team has a range of pitch maintenance equipment available including the most recent purchases of mowers from Toro – seven trailed gang mowers – an Amazone Groundkeeper, a Dennis FT510 and a John Deere X750. A full kit audit is carried out annually and every asset is assessed as to its suitability for the coming season, and replaced if no longer fit for purpose.

“Gavin Jones is a strong supporter of continual personal development” natural turf football and cricket pitches, as well as artificial surfaces, has stood him in good stead for multi-sports pitch care. While he comments that artificial surfaces “are good for taking the pressure off natural turf pitches and can be used 80-90 times in a season”, he says that the maintenance of a natural grass surface – “even if it is heavily used – is much more rewarding”. He leads a very capable, experienced team which, in addition to PA1, PA2 and PA6 training, has seen its members undergo IOG one-day training courses for winter pitches, cricket and artificial surfaces. James, an ECB county pitch inspector, is also accredited to Level 3 Sports & Amenity Turf. “Gavin Jones is a strong supporter of continual personal development and is always looking to identify career pathways and the correct training and courses for staff,” says company director Dylan Lewis. “Also, we’re never short of useful product/ innovation updates from our suppliers. If you consider the combined knowledge of the team it already equates to a considerable level of expertise.” Indeed, their experience with artificial THE GROUNDSMAN 15



The Aldershot Army rugby pitch is one of more than 100 sports grounds managed by Gavin Jones

“By working with and educating the users, we can achieve the desired outcome” surfaces, in particular, will be even more influential going forwards. Aspire is in the midst of a £1.1 billion rebuild project to accommodate returning troops and the plan has seen certain winter pitches already converted into 3G surfaces, and there are intentions to establish more 3G pitches in future. “The Aspire rebuild project has seen the majority of sites undergo development and, over the past year or so, we have lost several sporting facilities across the footprint. Four football and three rugby pitches (on Salisbury Plain) have been supplanted, but the usage of the facilities has not diminished. Thanks to the work of our sports ground team, all the fixtures were accommodated after being relocated to other venues – despite the fact that some of the events were then held on pitches that were not originally designated for that sport.” 16 THE GROUNDSMAN April 2019

Established in 1919 by Colonel Gavin Jones, when he and his wife began to devote themselves to the cultivation of alpine plants, the company soon developed into a thriving business and now (as part of the Nurture Landscapes Group since 2018) is one of Britain’s leading landscaping and grounds maintenance enterprises offering a full range of professional services nationwide, including grounds maintenance for the corporate sector as well as The Royal Parks, MoD/Royal Air Force and private estates. It operates sports ground maintenance predominantly in the south/south west of the country, “but we’re actively now looking to grow our sports ground maintenance wider”, says director Dylan Lewis, “and the IOG award is undoubtedly the catalyst to enable this.” Dylan Lewis

James says: “Some of the pitches are open all year round and have heavy fixture lists, which sometimes leaves us just two weeks for renovations [there is a ‘split’ between the pitches that are renovated – usually the stadium surfaces – and those that are continually ‘repaired’]. After that we have to accommodate summer sports that will include athletics events like javelin and hammer, so we naturally have to work closely with our client to manage the expectations for playability, while at the same time achieving the high standards of maintenance we expect to deliver. Sometimes this can be a delicate balancing act, but by working with and continually educating the users, we can achieve the desired outcome.


“We have all the necessary kit in-house – including vertidrainers and topdressers – to enable us to get onto pitches immediately and carry out exactly what is required. With some of the artificial surfaces being fully booked most days, it is essential we plan our workload correctly to ensure we can get onto these and maintain the regime of one hour of maintenance for each 10 hours of use.”

James says that the team undertakes all the usual maintenance procedures of mowing, aeration, topdressing/ overseeding, fertilising and chemical treatments, and he is big fan of certain products, based on past experience with those brands. These include Johnsons Premier Pitch seed, Marathon granular fertilisers (supplied by Sherriff Amenity, which also provides soil reports each year) plus ICL ProTurf fertiliser. “They’ve always worked well for me, so why would I change? Thankfully, as a group we are not tied into a sole amenity supplier so, I use a variety of products that I think best suit each individual pitch/site.” Last year’s wet spring and hot summer certainly put James’ views to the test, with some pitches being on clay while others are on chalk. “We’ll never get on top of the weather,” concludes James, “but experience and technology will always help us get through such events and enable us to meet not only our aspirations but, importantly, those of our clients.” Find out more about IOG courses, as undertaken by the Gavin Jones team, at





Matthew Skingle, the IOG’s most promising turf care student in 2018, is already eyeing the dream job as he takes in his stride his daily tasks at Coventry City FC

ABOVE Pedestrian mowing and general maintenance are part of Matthew’s regular duties OPPOSITE PAGE The pitches at Ryton are in daily use all year round, up to 400 hours each, so keeping them in good condition can be a pressurised job

18 THE GROUNDSMAN April 2019



atthew Skingle just can’t help singing the blues. The Sky Blues, that is. A lifelong Coventry City FC fan, like his dad, the 20-year-old is close to his dream job – just seven miles away as the crow flies. “I’d love to work at the Ricoh Arena,” says Matthew, winner of the 2018 IOG Toro Most Promising Sports Turf Student Award. “But right now, the club’s training ground in Ryton is a great place to learn about groundsmanship.” He’s worked at the Ricoh before, though. “My first inkling of wanting to be a groundsman was in year 10,” he explains. “I took two weeks’ work experience at Coventry City FC after dad and mum suggested I contact the grounds team to discuss the possibility. Most of that time was spent at the stadium.” The work experience fired his passion for the industry but his turf care ambitions had to be placed on hold. “There was no route into groundsmanship from school,” he recalls, “and football is a difficult industry sector to move into in any case, especially for young people. That’s why the IOG Young Board of Directors is a really positive move to get people excited about the industry.”


So Matthew reverted to plan B, enrolling with the WMG Academy for Young Engineers. “I only spent 18 months there, after planning to complete my BTEC Level 3 in Engineering and A-Level in product design, but I left early as I Iost interest in the subject,” he says. A position as marketing apprentice at an electric fencing company followed and he satisfied his fascination with online and social media by completing a year-long NVQ in IT and Social Networking in November 2016. Then his chance came – out of the blue. “I heard of an opportunity for a young groundsman at Coventry City. It was the perfect chance for me to enter the industry.” The club’s then head groundsman, Julien Morris, interviewed Matthew at Ryton and within a couple of hours, he found out he’d landed the job. “I’d just passed my driving test, so it was perfect timing,” he says. As an apprentice groundsman, Matthew was soon powering up his industry skills, taking a two-year NVQ Level 2 in Sports Turf Maintenance from South Essex College (delivered through tutor visits to


Ryton) in just 18 months. “It taught me about the entirety of the base level of groundsmanship,” he says.


Based at Ryton, the first-team training ground, Matthew is one of a three-strong team there including head groundsman Colin Wilson and assistant Neil Matts – with the fourth team member, Darren Lees, tending turf at the Alan Higgs Centre Academy, where Coventry’s academy train and the under 23s play most home fixtures. “When I arrived, I had never used machinery. I spent my first fortnight observing,” he says, “then setting up training sessions and moving goals. I started using a Honda mower and couldn’t keep up in the beginning: it was ‘dragging’ me. But now the machine seems slow.” The job certainly keeps him fit, with hours of walking just to collect cuttings. “You’re putting in a good seven or eight miles,” he says. “My legs were in tatters at first. Now it’s a walk in the park.”

By Greg Rhodes Feature writer

After honing skills such as line marking at the academy site in his first year, he started carrying out these jobs at Ryton, where all grounds team members hold PA1/PA2 spraying certificates. The two ryegrass natural pitches are used daily all year round and the team has its work cut out to keep the surfaces sound in the absence of any reinforcement, drainage or automatic irrigation. “The watering system runs around the pitch perimeter,” explains Matthew. “It’s a question of dragging supply pipes across the surfaces to irrigate through the middle of the two pitches.”

“There was no route into groundsmanship from school. That’s why the IOG Young Board of Directors is a really positive move” THE GROUNDSMAN 19


MACHINERY MATTERS Matthew and team use a variety of equipment, including: • Toro 2000-D Reelmaster mower • Two Dennis cylinder G860s pedestrian mowers • Two Honda engine rotary mowers, small walk-behinds • John Deere 740 ride-on rotary mower for collecting debris after training • TYM tractor – three-point linkage for tractor-mounted spraying and liquid fertiliser application, and sarel roller (spikes) • Vertidrainer – “Ours has small tines, so a contractor comes in with a larger model for the major work” • Dimple seeder – alternates between the Ryton and Alan Higgs sites

As a lifelong Coventry City fan, Matthew is in his element at Ryton

“I’m the youngest member of the team so it’s great that I’m given that level of trust to work on my own on a range of tasks” For a Sky Blues fan, the last couple of seasons have proven a rollercoaster ride, which has impacted the turf care programme. “In my first year here, Coventry was relegated from League 1 and that meant no pitch renovation at the end of that season. It was a difficult period for us and a lesson in how to cope in really hard circumstances.” The rebound back to League 1 the following season meant a return to full renovation, which Matthew was actively involved with overseeing. “Most of the work was done by contractors but part of my task was to guide them round the site and ensure everything was running to schedule. Working with them helps me learn about the management side of things.”


There was another snag. “As the club had been in the League 2 play-offs, the season was extended by a month, which meant we had precious little time for the renovation. We renovated the first pitch in early May immediately after the final game of the full season; we then kept the second pitch going for training right up until the play-off 20 THE GROUNDSMAN April 2019

final on 28 May with renovation starting four days later.” The new season started at the beginning of August and the squad was training on the first pitch for most of the summer, then went to a training camp in July, allowing some rest for the new pitch. The renovation of the second pitch, and the record-breaking heatwave, proved a real challenge. “We had a mammoth task watering it throughout the day with the pipes and outreachers. Our water comes straight from a borehole and we were throwing on as much as we possibly could. It all worked out well in the end though.” Not all Matthew’s work is as pressurised. “Divoting, topdressing, pedestrian mowing and collecting debris are regular duties and, in a move to be greener, we’ve recently switched to an organic granular and liquid fertiliser programme, which I assist with applying. In summer, I use the Dennis G860s or Toro 2000-D Reelmaster, cutting to 26-27mm. We demoed a battery-powered cylinder mower recently as the club is interested in renewable energy.” Matthew’s IOG award nomination also came as a bolt out of the blue. “Julien, who left last spring, nominated me. It was a great

feeling to hear I’d been shortlisted and for a month before the dinner I’d kept telling myself that I wouldn’t win. It was a massive surprise to hear my name called out. After that, it was all a bit of a blur but I felt elation then huge relief as the pressure was off.” Under Colin’s light managerial touch, Matthew is developing fast. “This is a teamorientated job. We can all do everything. I’m the youngest member so it’s great that I’m given that level of trust to work on my own on a range of tasks that includes vertidraining and tractor-mounted spraying.” In an industry that’s “moving on quite a bit”, Matthew has his eyes set on doing just that, so where does he see himself in five years’ time? The next stage in his plan to advance is already mapped out. “I’m aiming for accreditation to Level 3 and in time hope to progress to become a head groundsman or grounds manager at a top-tier team after a spell as an assistant. Football is my sport and that’s where I’ll focus my efforts.”


Find out more about the IOG Young Board at


By Greg Rhodes Feature writer


In the second of our two-part series, we look at the current – and likely – options for recycling and re-use of synthetic pitches


rtificial turf has been around for more than 50 years and has a typical life expectancy of 10 years, so large quantities of played-out carpet need to be repurposed, recycled or disposed of each year. In the UK, as elsewhere, concerns centre around the disposal and re-use of first-, secondand older third-generation synthetic turf pitches, and the growth of hybrid playing surfaces further complicates the recycling picture because of the need to separate elements such as rootzone from the plastic fibre reinforcement. 22 THE GROUNDSMAN April 2019

Transporting played-out carpet and other components to a recycling plant is costlier than alternatives such as incinerating – and given that the number of incinerators is set to nearly double across the UK, recent figures suggest, burning could become a more likely option.


Replacement costs can be cut by retaining the shockpads, which should last for the lifetime of two carpets, suggests Alastair Cox of Alastair Cox Associates, an internationally-recognised expert

“California, Scandanavia and New England are proactive. If the UK generates sufficient waste, such plants could be built here” in the sector who runs an independent consultancy specialising in sports surfaces and facilities, and is facilities manager for the International Hockey Federation as well as technical consultant to the European Synthetic Turf Council.


“Contractors, councils and clubs are looking at eco impact and minimising their environmental footprint. Until recently, a worn pitch would always end up in landfill” Most research into recycling and reuse is being conducted outside the UK. “California, Scandinavia and New England are quite proactive,” Alastair says, and processing plants are coming on stream. “If the UK generates sufficient synthetic turf waste, such plants could be built here.” Last year, the Dutch media reported on stockpiling of synthetic turf carpets in warehouses and the disposal implications if they went out of business and concern has spread across Europe.

The Environmental Impact Study on Artificial Football Turf noted that 3,437 pitches had been certified by FIFA since 2006 in 149 countries. The rise in field replacements worldwide and the resulting volume of waste generated prompted the world governing body to look at offering insights on the best way of disposal. “Recycling of artificial football turf is not widespread,” the report states. Most manufacturers interviewed for the study claimed their products are recyclable, “but none are taking significant steps to make sure this happens in practice”. The lack of standards for turf recycling, aside from waste regulations applicable locally, has not deterred one European processor, however. Denmark-based ReMatch reports that it can gain a sufficiently high purity of material output to allow


THE VIEW FROM THE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATION “The FA, as a partner with other sporting governing bodies, has a contract in place with chosen providers and contractors to ensure that it is a legal requirement for all 3G pitches to be disposed of responsibly. We also request written statements and details from them about how this is done.” Mark Pover, facilities investment strategy manager (technical), The FA Group


Installers are advancing the replacement and recycling process. Turf Reclamation Solutions UK uses US-sourced machinery to strip a full-size synthetic pitch, remove it from site and prepare it for recycling “in less than 48 hours”. According to company director Dave Gibson: “Contractors, councils and clubs are looking more closely at eco impact and minimising their environmental footprint. Until recently, a worn pitch would always end up in landfill.” A worn-out synthetic pitch can weigh typically between 100 and 200 tonnes depending on the original surface type. The TRS machinery slices the surface into 1.15m-wide strips, extracts the infill onsite and winds the old turf into manageable rolls. Extracted sandfill is bagged directly into one-tonne sacks, samples are laboratory tested and, if approved, reused on the new pitch or in another part of the construction process – or applied as topdressing for natural grass pitches. Existing shockpads can be re-used since the machinery used has low ground pressure so does not damage underlying constructions. A FIFA-commissioned study issued in March 2017 analysed the environmental impacts of producing, removing and disposing of football turf, and reviewed recycling and re-use options.




Turf Reclamation Solutions stripping a pitch

“The challenges are in developing the scale of the recycling industry to meet the volume of demand” 99 per cent of synthetic turf materials to be recycled – a claim certified under the Environmental Technology Verification (ETV) scheme. Its four materials streams comprise sand, infill (typically styrene-butadiene rubber granules), polypropylene (PP) and liquid polyurethane (PU)/latex from the carpet backing and polyethylene (PE) from the pile. What results is a “fairly pure mix of PE and PP and a separate stream of PP with the PU/latex backing still attached”. Neither of these low-grade streams is currently suitable for use as replacements for virgin material, the report concludes, “although the infill is often high enough quality… to use as infill on new pitches”. Schemes such as ETV can boost the credibility of recycling processes where no regulation currently exists, the report 24 THE GROUNDSMAN April 2019

maintains – helping “owners” to dispose of their pitch “responsibly”. But even these types of voluntary standards “are far from the industry currently”, it stresses. Despite this, recycling remains “a viable option, particularly in Europe”. Technologies to remove, separate and clean the main components of the turf “are still being perfected” with open-loop processes “the best, at the moment”. A full closed-loop process is, however, “yet to be developed and this will certainly require more support from the turf manufacturers to implement”, the report argues.


Sports surfaces groups across Europe are collaborating in a bid to mount an economically viable solution for disposing of and recycling old sports carpets but the outlook remains uncertain. What groups agree about though is that a sustainable system of disposal or re-use must be developed and implemented across the continent. “Some reputable recyclers are generating new product from old and the industry has developed new products for easier and more cost-effective recycling,” says Sylvia Tabero, senior project consultant at international plastics

consultancy AMI Consulting. “But the challenges are in developing the scale of the recycling industry to meet the volume of demand and getting operators to buy into the higher prices that such efforts require.” Ultimately, her concerns centre on the need for operators to take recycling on board. “It’s not free,” she states. “There’s a cost attached” [to ensuring synthetic surfaces are disposed of in an environmentally sound fashion]. As the conversation continues among European synthetic turf bodies, the UK is certainly cocking an ear, with trade associations and sports governing bodies sitting on international committees pondering the problem. If industry interests fail to fall in with a truly green process of repurposing synthetic sports systems, however, the landscape could be pockmarked with mountains of artificial grass for years to come. Find out more: Turf Reclamation Solutions UK: www.recycling AMI Consulting: Re-Match: Alastair Cox Associates:



The new standard will reassure the public


SETTING THE STANDARD Meeting professional standards was a hot topic at the Amenity Forum’s recent Updating Event hosted by the IOG in Surrey and sponsored by John Deere, at Lingfield Park Racecourse

T By Prof John Moverley Amenity Forum chair

he management of amenity areas is an important task creating safe and healthy public spaces. It is vital that such tasks are undertaken to the highest professional standards but, although there are a number of assurance schemes, there is no overall standard which can easily be recognised as demonstrating that those undertaking amenity management operations are professionally competent and using methods at the highest standards. Given that, the Amenity Forum is developing a standard for the sector. This will inform the public, and those who place tenders or employ operators, that the processes implemented are fit for purpose. It will be instantly recognisable and

UPDATING EVENTS This year’s programme of updating events is entitled ‘Adapting to Change’, sponsored by JSD Rail. These half-day events include a policy update presentation, reviewing the National Action Plan and how it impacts on the sector; a review of issues impacting on the sector in terms of weed, pest and disease management from Amenity Forum chair Professor John Moverley; a presentation on best practice standards from BASIS registration; and an interactive session on integrated planning for

26 THE GROUNDSMAN April 2019

amenity maintenance – putting it into practice. The session ends with question time, a presentation by the host organisation and a buffet lunch. There are three events left in the current series. 10 April, Perth Scottish Government 11 April, Buckinghamshire Manor Estates 17 April, York Green-tech (Note: programme details will vary slightly at each event)

will verify that the various assurance schemes in the sector are maintained at the overall standard. In the current climate, cost will always be a key factor when considering amenity management plans but it is vital that quality and standards are an essential element in the final decision. Those attending the series of free Amenity Forum Updating Events welcomed the proposals. It was recognised that many do currently employ contractors and the like with assured credentials such as Amenity Assured, but there remain others who operate outside such standards. The new Amenity Standard seeks to address this.


The Amenity Forum would like to see this standard as an essential requirement when employing anyone in amenity management. If employing a gas fitter, I ensure he or she is Gas Safe registered; a similar requirement should be essential in amenity management. There are a number of well recognised assurance schemes in our sector; this new standard seeks to embrace these and provide everyone of an assured standard and best practice. I would like to see the logo associated with the standard proudly displayed across the UK in our parks, golf courses, sports grounds and indeed all our public spaces. The new standard is due to be launched later this year and, in the meantime, everyone is urged to seek evidence of a recognised assurance scheme when employing those charged with amenity management. To find out more about the Updating Events contact



SPORTS PITC PRO ECT GETS TOP MARKS The prestigious Concord College in Shrewsbury now has two new sports pitches and a series of amenity grassed areas on what used to be 32 acres of agricultural land





By Colin Hoskins Features editor

The Hydraway

The feasibility study involved topographical surveying, digital 3D land remodelling, the production of a ground investigation report (via specialist geotechnical consultants) and a detailed project cost analysis. The development was part of an expansion plan that incorporated new teaching and residential blocks, plus car parking, which meant that new foul and storm sewers needed to cross the meadow. Consequently, Turfdry’s managing director Melvyn Taylor took on the prime role in a client-led multi-disciplinary team comprising architects, landscape architects, planning consultants, a sewerage consultant, a building contractor and quantity surveyors. Importantly, this close co-operation between all parties also embraced the Institute of Groundsmanship’s Turf Advisory Service, which was engaged to undertake independent monitoring of the project. The design proposal provided all the required sports pitches, designed to suitable gradients, in a visually attractive and user-friendly layout. The proposed landform also addressed peakstorm flooding of residential properties on Hall Meadow’s western boundary: an existing problem caused by surface water run-off from

“This close co-operation between all parties also embraced the IOG’s Turf Advisory Service” 28 THE GROUNDSMAN April 2019

the agricultural land. The design was purposely engineered so that no soil needed to be brought onto or removed from site, to minimise impact on the local community. Having been appointed to undertake project construction, Turfdry commenced in spring 2016, following archaeological investigations. The extensive earthworks using GPS-controlled machinery involved over 25,000m3 of topsoil strip, more than 25,000m3 of subsoil ‘cut and fill’, as well as the creation of a large-capacity attenuation lagoon to manage water outflow from the site in a controlled way. The lagoon has a capacity of 2,160m3 (an Olympic swimming pool holds 2,500m3).


The pitches were to be sited on “slowly permeable, seasonally wet, slightly acid but base-rich loamy and clayey soils” – a soil type that once saturated can remain like that for prolonged periods – so land drainage systems of varying intensity for different parts of the site were installed, with Turfdry’s proprietary Hydraway system being used. This differs significantly from traditional piped drainage and features an innovative high-performance fin drain with an extremely permeable clog-resistant membrane installed in narrow trenches, with the top of the membrane typically 250mm below ground. The fin drain also benefits from having a greater surface area than conventional plastic pipes, so larger quantities of water can be dispersed much more quickly. While the general amenity areas (to the west and south of the site) had drainage installed at 5m centres, the ‘open age’ football pitch/athletics track area had drainage at 2m centres, and the under 14s/15s pitch had Hydraway at 3m centres (which is the most commonly adopted spacing). Drainage work was followed by stone burying, sand spreading and amelioration, cultivation, lagoon hydro-seeding, seed-bed preparation




Drainage was varied for

“The design proposal provided all the required sports pitches, designed to suitable gradients, in a visually attractive and user-friendly layout” and sowing (using five separate seed mixes for different parts of the site) including two wildflower meadows. Turfdry maintained the site – undertaking mowing, fertilising, applying selective herbicide and aeration – until handover. In addition to regular site inspections, the IOG’s Turf Advisory Service also produced for the college an ongoing, month-bymonth pitch maintenance plan that includes: • Mowing • Overmarking • Overseeding

• Fertilising • Aerating • Top dressing • Annual renovation procedure (in May). Indeed, as a result of the successful collaboration between Turfdry and the IOG, the company has since instigated and developed an ongoing relationship with the IOG-led Grounds and Natural Turf Improvement Programme (GaNTIP), liaising with the programme’s regional pitch advisor on a range of projects where maintenance advice has been required.


Sixteen months after works commenced, the project was delivered to complement the college’s existing extensive sporting facilities for athletics, archery, badminton, basketball, netball, squash, tennis, volleyball and swimming. Turfdry’s work was also recognised by the IOG Annual Awards, with the project (nominated by the college) being a finalist in the Contractor of the Year Award – an achievement of which the company is tremendously proud. The final word is with bursar Barbara Belfield-Dean, who wrote saying: “The works undertaken were completed to a very high standard, and we are delighted with the results.” Visit for details of Turfdry and its Hydraway drainage system



Before making any adjustments, make sure the equipment is made safe in accordance with the manufacturers’ operating manual

Passing the course reassures

IN SAFE HANDS The IOG’s Level 2 Safe Use of Equipment training course is proving a popular way for organisations to reinforce safe working practices among their employees


n employer has a duty to provide a “safe system of work” for employees (Health and Safety at Work Act etc. 1974), which means carrying out risk assessments (Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999), as well as ensuring “that all persons who use work equipment have received adequate training for purposes of health and safety” (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998, Regulation 9 (1)), as well as a host of other requirements to help deliver an overall safe system of work. Training can be delivered in a number of, often incremental, ways. For example, initially an employer will carry out induction training; a supplier of equipment will provide training in the use of a specific item; employees who are key equipment users may then progress onto a safe use certificate of competence offered by City & Guilds or Lantra Awards. This training is being provided by a large number of organisations, and some employers will also have routine update and refresher sessions.

“Success rates are very high, showing the benefits gained”

With the range of training possibilities available, why is the IOG Level 2 Safe Use of Equipment course becoming ever more popular? Having a third-party reputable organisation undertaking refresher sessions for groups of staff, to reinforce safe working practices and reduce elements of complacency which may have crept in; A wide range of equipment is covered to maintain interest and to contrast differences between types of activities; As a middle ground between general induction training and certificate of competence training – the latter is ideal, yet is expensive for all staff to achieve; To provide an overview of the general principles of what is meant by safe use to better engage employees and volunteers in practising good groundsmanship; To contribute in the overall provision of a duty of care to others The IOG makes it clear that the course is not about assessing competence (other courses provide that) but rather about developing knowledge and skills by reinforcing good working practices, including overviews of a range of health and safety regulations, the importance and use of risk assessments, working on a slope, pre-start checks as being fundamental

By Chris Gray IOG learning programme architect

to good groundsmanship to ensure the equipment is not just safe to use but also that it can be operated efficiently and effectively, cleaning equipment after use, and the different types of signs, symbols and barriers which may be encountered.


To help support the learning journey, there is also an (optional) end-of-course short assessment paper, needing 60 per cent for a ‘pass’. We have found this has been very well received and it also helps in identifying areas for improvement. The assessment evidences the learning that has taken place and provides confidence not only to an employer of its employees’ understanding of safe use principles, but also to the IOG in judging how effectively our trainers have communicated the course requirements. Success rates are very high, showing the benefits gained by all involved. The course also helps to highlight the many specific health and safety areas where more extensive training can be undertaken, if required, and candidates are signposted to these areas.


If your organisation is interested in having this course delivered to your employees, contact the IOG on learning@ or phone 01908 512511 THE GROUNDSMAN 31


Technology can reduce water use

EVERY DROP COUNTS Are we doing enough to minimise water wastage? Whatever the surface, all turf professionals had water considerations in last year’s heatwave, and everyone needs to be prepared


ith environmental pressures becoming more prevalent, irrigated sites must be seen to be managing water responsibly – especially if they are drawing it from the mains. Some have embraced water sustainability by using boreholes or reservoirs and it’s great to see this movement towards sustainable irrigation methods. But get the basics of irrigation management and maintenance right and water wastage can be dramatically reduced.


Water is the lifeblood of your venue, and the pipework of the irrigation system conveys it to all the vital organs. Having an old system could mean losing up to 25 per cent of water and not only is that wasteful but it also puts turf health at risk. As well as regular maintenance, it’s wise to undertake a thorough check of the irrigation system every five years to avoid such losses, to ensure everything is running smoothly and to assess if there are any issues and what improvements could be made.

“Get the basics of irrigation management and maintenance right and water wastage can be dramatically reduced”


The control system is the brain of the system, gathering important information which determines how much water should be sent where. Without a fully functioning control system, the entire system could cease to work. But there’s no point in settling for one that is merely ‘functional’, it’s worth choosing one that’s intuitive. This investment could halve the amount of work, while saving huge volumes of water. Having information such as weather and pump station set-up, sprinkler performance, intelligent field controller data and soil sensor levels makes a world of difference because knowledge, as they say, is power. Considering the unpredictable weather of 2018, having an intuitive control system allows you to respond to such changes in real time, to use water effectively, and to block off areas that aren’t a priority. Applying a set amount of water to all areas of your pitch can be seen as an inefficient practice as moisture levels can vary and change.


For detecting changes in moisture, temperature and salinity levels, soil monitoring systems record valuable data to help make informed adjustments. As well as saving water, these systems can help prevent aesthetic issues and diseases spreading because you’re alerted to problems quickly.

By Robert Jackson Irrigation manager, Reesink Turfcare


The type of sprinkler you use can make a huge difference to responsible water usage on a site. By using modern sprinklers that have nozzle options and adjustment capabilities, water can be applied exactly where it is needed. You’d be surprised by just how much updating old sprinklers to new – even just replacing ageing heads – can contribute to water use reduction and improve turf condition.


Checking that controller data matches sprinkler set-up can make a huge difference to the accuracy of an irrigation system, and inspecting arcs to ensure the application area is correct will guarantee water is distributed exactly where it’s intended. These two small additions to a regular maintenance schedule will go some way towards water saving. Put all of this together and the upshot is plants are healthier, surfaces are more aesthetically pleasing, playability is improved and it is likely that a lot of money will be saved. To find out more visit www.reesink for details on Toro’s extensive range of irrigation equipment including the winning combination of the intuitive Lynx central control and Infinity sprinklers with Smart Access technology




The popularity of hybrid playing surfaces continues unabated but grounds teams need to consider a number of issues during renovations to create the best possible growing medium



NUTRIENT EVALUATION SYSTEM By David Snowden Agronomic Services





“Observation will provide basic information, but scientific analysis of soil will provide the definitive picture” 34 THE GROUNDSMAN April 2019

Due to the comprehensive detail and length of such tests (with the Ana-Lync system), for the purposes of this article it is suffice to say that the report headings would include: • Physicality (this is indicated by the organic matter, cationic exchange capacity and saturation index) • Base cations • Cation percentages versus amount of nutrients • Accurate nitrogen release of both nitrate and ammonium • Anions • Micronutrients • Testing procedures • Recommendations – quantity required to achieve balance and overcome nutrient tie-ups



“Ensuring that information from soil and tissue testing is science-led, accurate and reliable can be a minefield” • Nutrient data • Summary report on each section, including organic matter, saturation index, electrical conductivity and available nutrients. Each nutrient would be listed with its value, evaluation and availability to the plant, taking into account what is soil-present and what is available for the plant to drink, in solution. Such reporting is unique to Ana-Lync and with so much data available, experienced interpretation and evaluation is essential.


This summarises how accurate soil and water analysis is essential. There are three aspects to any soil; physical, chemical and microbial. The physical aspects of the soil are largely determined by its composition. The soil physically allows for the linear movement of nutrients, oxygen and CO2 as well as water throughout its profile. Most of the chemical activity takes place in and about the clay particles and organic matter. Obviously, there is very little organic matter in a pure sand rootzone, therefore reducing nutrient retention. Changes in physical conditions will always affect the soil’s chemical characteristics of the soil and for any soil to function at its optimum, it must be well-balanced from the perspective of nutrition. Microbial activity is essential. Without microbes, there will be no oxidation/ reduction reactions, which is crucial for some fertiliser compounds to be available and so the rootzone will not work to its optimum. Those in the industry understand the benefits of mycorrhiza fungi and other multiple forms of bacteria that solubilise phosphates, together with bacteria, which is nitrogen fixing. Good microbial activity depends on nutrients, oxygen and water –

it is particularly important that life is created in the growing mediums. The aim is to have the rootzone 100 per cent nutritionally balanced, prior to seeding, during the grow-in period and subsequently throughout the playing season. There are many advantages to having a sand-based/hybrid pitch. But there are some issues that have to be addressed to avoid unnecessary costs: • A new rootzone has very little organic matter (a blank canvas to add nutrition) and is therefore low in micro-flora • The free-draining, inert sand soils have very little nutrient retention capacity • The rootzones are quite hostile places for young plants to establish • Soil parasites can be an issue. When there is little else present in the soil apart from a nitrogen-packed, juicy white root system, nematodes in particular will enjoy it as a food source. Incorporating pre-seed fertiliser with amendments such as RZA (porous ceramic granule) and Eon-Bio (biologically active slow -release humic acid), into the upper rootzone at construction/renovation time, will give young seedlings the perfect start. Prior to seeding, however, is the time to balance the top 50-75mm of rootzone with the correct nutrition and soil conditioners to create a growing medium that is full of life and already at the optimum level. The aim is to produce a high percentage of seed germination and rapid establishment, but it is vital to ensure the growth is not just nitrogen driven. This may look aesthetically pleasing, but in real terms it only produces lush topical growth that will be more susceptible to disease and root parasites. The germination stage can be relatively simple, and the establishment of a healthy plant and roots is the key to an optimum renovation – and this is where the nutrition can make the difference between success and failure. Clarifying the details and ensuring that information from soil and tissue testing is science led, accurate and reliable can be a minefield. To keep renovations on budget, on time and of the highest quality, do not waste precious resources on ineffective nutrition.

Bacillus – bacteria – in the soil


Find out more by visiting

David (right) with Michael Salvatore, Melbourne Cricket Ground arena manager

The AAMI Stadium, Melbourne

AGRONOMIC SERVICES – EXPERIENCE COUNTS David Snowden has spent more than 30 years in the sports turf industry, beginning with Lindum Turf then Floratine Products Group before establishing Agronomic Services. He has been fortunate to play a role in some prestigious projects as well as with Premier League and Champions League football clubs. “For example, during a recent trip to Australia and the Middle East, I worked with the Melbourne Cricket Ground and AAMI Park Stadium, Melbourne. I also work closely with Almouj Golf in Oman – which recently hosted its second European Tour event, The Oman Open. “It is extremely satisfying to work with fellow professionals in producing strong, healthy grass swards. The pressure on the modern sports turf manager to turn these projects around in a narrow timeframe is immense – in one case, renovation was completed and 17 days later the first match was played!” Visit www.agronomics. or phone 01765 658021 for more about the company’s sports turf nutrition, consultancy grow-ins and renovation services, including Ana-Lync diagnostics. THE GROUNDSMAN 35


CUSTOM FIT IS ALWAYS RIGHT A tailor-made Topair from GKB is perfect for Harrow School The grounds team at Harrow School has its work cut out, with 320 acres of sports grounds to look after including synthetic pitches, tennis courts, 16 winter pitches, nine cricket pitches and a nine-hole golf course. As such, finding just the right tools for the job is essential for helping the 11 grounds staff to keep things ticking over – and that’s where the option to customise a GKB Topair unit came in recently. Mike Kemmett, grounds manager of Harrow School, explains: “I tried the 6ft machine, and although this was great on the pitches and outfields, I wanted

The Topair unit aerates and levels

something more compact so I could use it on the golf course greens and tees to help combat the grubs with the removal of many products. This disc slicing action would mean I could slit the greens regularly to help fight against pest damage with minimal surface disruption and perform the task very quickly, so Tom Shinkins (operations manager, UK and Ireland) built the machine like-forlike but in a 4ft version.” The standard Topair unit combines the ability to aerate and level the top layer of turf, improving growth by boosting oxygen levels with minimum

disruption to the soil. The levelling roller is hydraulically adjustable, so can be used at the same time or in a separate operation to the aeration. “The machines are probably the best built on the market, and the cost of parts should they ever need replacing is very reasonable – there are some products and companies that have cheaper machines but the upkeep of them if they go wrong have ridiculous costs to get running again,” Mike adds.


For more information visit

The Arbtrak 150 in action

FEELING CHIPPER Problem trees are easier to remove for Powerline Services with GreenMech’s ArbTrak 150 Managing trees and vegetation around large sites is a challenge for lots of groundscare teams, but for Powerline Services – a firm which specialises in removing trees from powerlines – a solution was found in the form of GreenMech’s ArbTrak 150 units, which can cross almost any terrain to save transporting trees to the chipper. “Our woodchippers are our core piece of machinery,” explains Ben Jones, director of Powerline Services, “and for the majority of sites we’re operating on, the work calls for a tracked chipper.

We’ve always had tracked units from GreenMech but as requirements and the type of materials we’re handling change, we’re constantly reviewing that our fleet is fit for purpose. “The ArbTrak 150s are a perfect size to handle the brashy material that makes up a large percentage of our projects. We can quickly and conveniently track them to the area of work meaning no time is spent transporting material to the chipper, therefore improving efficiency for my teams.”

The ArbTrak 150 has ground clearance of 274mm and a tracking speed of 3kmph, so it works well for teams dealing with difficult ground, large areas and anyone looking to minimise pressure on the ground.


For more information visit THE GROUNDSMAN 37

Product showcase


IOG NEWS UPDATES Go to the IOG website




The Grandstand is perfect for tight spaces


Stand and deliver

TORO’S GRANDSTAND COMBINES the speed and comfort of a zero-turn mower with the benefits of a walkbehind. The cushioned suspension system, rear-discharge deck and twinlevered steering controls also make mowing easier for the operator. Both the 38in and 48in models feature a fold-up operator platform to allow the mower to convert to a walk-behind, ideal

when working on sloped terrain, and saving room when the unit is stored. The 36in model also has a compact footprint, making it ideal for tight spaces. Where traction and handling are concerned, a wide stance and optimal balance enhance hillside stability and control, and the anti-fatigue rubber mat helps to reduce vibrations.

The FM48 from SCH



THE FM48 IS a powerful, towed, long grass cutter with a working width of 48in. It’s ideal for maintaining rough grassed areas where a conventional mower would get clogged up. Two ‘V’ belts drive 42 cutting flails, powered by a reliable 13hp Honda engine with an electric start. A one-piece roller is mounted at the rear of the cutter. The roller ensures the flails are always lifted above the highest


peaks on uneven ground to alleviate scalping. The safety of the operator is taken care of. The throttle control and engine emergency stop switch can be easily reached from the tractor seat and full skirt guards protect the operator’s feet.

Institute of Groundsmanship

THE NEW COUNTAX C40 is the ideal machine for large areas of an acre or more, with user-friendly features and a durable build. The British-built and designed machine is able to withstand the worst of its home climate and its heavy-duty cast axle can cope with uneven terrain. It has a reinforced 38in cutter deck, perfect for both large lawns and places where access can be a problem. With the optional 300-litre Powered Grass Collector and integrated roller, it creates a neat, striped finish. User-friendliness is at the heart of many of the C40’s features. The ergonomically designed controls include a geared deck-lift system that lets you change the cutting height easily, while the dashboard display with running hours, cutter deck and Powered Grass Collector status is visible at all times. The shaped steering wheel and adjustable seat position make access easy for the driver. Maintenance is also kept simple with easy access to the engine area and a translucent seven-litre fuel tank so the fuel levels can be checked easily. Safety is considered, too, as the unit can’t be started if the handbrake isn’t engaged.

The userfriendly C40 THE GROUNDSMAN 39





The Etesia Hydro 80

“Up here the ground can be very wet and soft at times so the Hydro 80 is the ideal machine to get on and get these areas cut”

40 THE GROUNDSMAN April 2019

EN STIRLING ASE Inverallan Landscapes needed a new compact ride-on mower, managing director John Ma well did his research before deciding on the Etesia ydro M . We have limited space in our work vans so the machine needed to fit into the back of them, which proved to be a difficult search, he says. We also had to consider that there are some considerably tight and awkward green spaces which we need to attend to. The Hydro 80 is less than one metre wide, so easily met the company’s re uirements both for transport and for performing well in small spaces. It can overcome obstacles such as kerbs and uneven ground and can cut and collect long and short grass without clogging up. It s also easy for users to maintain, offering the operator access to the engine and all working parts and

the hydrostatic transmission system is maintenance free. ohn says We have had the Etesia ydro for three seasons now and it is used mostly every day between four different vans. It is nice and light as opposed to some of our other larger e uipment, too. p here the ground can be very wet and soft at times so the Hydro 80 is the ideal machine to get on and get these areas cut. We have the fle ibility to mulch or pick-up the grass which is also beneficial. It is also brilliant when attending to large grass areas because as opposed to having two or three operators using push mowers, we can ust have one person covering the whole area with the ydro . Overall the Etesia ydro has been a great machine for us.





THE NEW 2750 PrecisionCut and E-Cut hybrid triplex mowers from John Deere – due to launch in 2020 – will allow better control and consistency of cut, no matter who is operating the unit. Using the firm’s passwordprotected TechControl system, fleet managers and technicians can control frequency of clip, turn speed, clean-up pass speed and how fast the cutting units raise and lower – giving a consistent finish even when different team members have used the machine. The new units also feature cleanup pass mode, a preset mode that reduces mowing speed on perimeter passes to increase accuracy. The risk of turf damage is further reduced with adjustable turn speed, which the grounds manager can set to determine how fast the mower operator can turn.

The units launch in 2020

Both mowers offer a 62in mowing width with a speed of up to 6mph. The three-axis lift system on the cutting units provides up to 18 degrees of steering and 42 degrees of contour following for an even cut. “Consistent cut quality across all operators, efficient contour following and grass box accessibility are all critical needs for our customers, and

understanding these requirements was a key driver behind the development of these new reel mowers,” says John Deere’s European turf sales and marketing manager Carlos Aragones. “The 2750 triplex mowers have been designed to tackle these challenges and take the stress out of fine turf mowing.” THE GROUNDSMAN 41





THE NEW TYM T194 from Reesink Turfcare offers customers a new, super-compact option for taking care of mowing and general maintenance. It’s been designed to appeal to those looking for a more versatile option than a ride-on mower. The T194 comes as standard with a 54in mid-mounted deck with cutting heights from one to four inches, which can be adjusted from the operator’s seat. The rest of the controls are also close at hand with a clear, simple dash panel giving the user an overview of all the machine’s functions. As well as its mowing capability, the unit has category one threepoint linkage and 540rpm rear PT, allowing for various rear-mounted attachments so that it can be used for a range of tasks including sweeping and aerating. The T194 can also be

42 THE GROUNDSMAN April 2019

specified with a front loader. TYM sales manager Steven Haynes says: “We’re responding to customer demand by adding another small product to our range of tractors. It appears customers, predominantly those with large gardens or small estates, and contractors, caravan parks and many sports venues, want a powerful option in a compact package.” www.reesinkturf

The T194 combines the agility of a mower with the versatility of a




REMOTE CONTROL RAIN BIRD’S NEW TBOS II BT bluetooth battery-operated irrigation controller is a great solution for managing irrigation on sites with no mains electricity, making it perfect for parks, landscape projects and construction sites. The unit can be mounted on most Rain Bird valves and can be configured by smartphone rather than field transmitter, so it’s cost effective and user friendly in operation. The TBOS II BT is durable, vandal proof and designed to resist humid and harsh environments, so there’s no need to worry about leaving it on site for long periods. The 9V alkaline battery lasts about a year and the unit is 100 per cent waterproof. Available with one, two, four or six stations, TBOS II BT’s basic programming covers three

independent programs, each with eight start times per day. Stations can be assigned to several programs with different watering run times from one minute to 12 hours. Independent station operation allows sequential start times and there are five watering day cycle modes which are selectable by program for maximum flexibility and watering restriction compliance. Seasonal adjustment and rain delay programming is also available. A TBOS back-up program can be saved and restored. An unlimited number of TBOS II BT controllers can be programmed from an Android or IOS smartphone app via bluetooth. The app already exists for Rain Bird LNK wifi controllers and now has added functionality for the TBOS II BT. The user interface can set irrigation programs, review and clear

all the control module’s irrigation programs. Three local irrigation programs can be saved and restored from the field transmitter. A low battery indicator is also included. The TBOS II BT is backwards compatible with existing TBOS II installations and can be used with a Rain Bird RSD-BEX Rain-Sensor. THE GROUNDSMAN 43


Pervade relieves waterlogged ground


Helping hand

TREATING YOUR SOIL with the right moisture management products helps to make the most of your irrigation programme. Agronomic Services has two key products that help maintain the right balance of water for sports turf. Specific wetting agents are available to suit the growing conditions. In times of drought or in preparation for the summer, Retain Pro promotes uniform moisture distribution, holds moisture for longer, reduces leaching and prevents hydrophobic conditions. It can be applied at the start of the growing season and through the summer months to reduce leaching. When used during irrigation, it helps to improve the distribution of water. When the ground is saturated, then Pervade soil penetrant enables faster

percolation, evacuating waterlogged soils, pushing water through the soil profile and helping to nullify the effect of retaining agents. Pervade should be used during and after rain fall, and when you want to break the residual effects of a retaining wetting agent. Combined use of Pervade and Retain Pro can prevent dry patches.



BEAT THE HEAT THIS IRRIGATION UNIT (IGU) is useful for ground watering young trees, shrubs and plants. The reliable Honda engine is used to pump water from a static water source such as a pond or lake. It is also a great match with a towed or mounted water tank. Failing to keep plants alive during heatwaves and hosepipe bans can be costly. Water pumped from a lake can keep vegetation hydrated throughout the hottest of the summer months. The powerful pump can deliver up to 110 gallons per minute, allowing you to water significant areas in a fraction


of the time compared to a standard hosepipe. The IGU can be used to spray water over grassed areas, and could be attached to a sprinkler system to cover vast areas with minimal effort. The unit comes with a hose reel, which will accommodate 80m of 1in hose or 120m of ¾in hose.

Institute of Groundsmanship




THE LYNX IRRIGATION control system from Toro has now been updated with the Lynx Smart two-wire system, including the Lynx Smart Module and Smart Hub. It’s an upgrade on the GDC control system, which provides back-up and operation should the connection to the central control be interrupted. The pedestal or wall-mounted Smart Hub allows users to segment the system into manageable areas by placing up to nine Smart Hubs over the site, allowing for in-field troubleshooting and creating a connection point for the soil, flow and status sensors. Robert Jackson, irrigation field sales manager for Toro distributor Reesink Turfcare, says: “The Hub controls up to 1000 sprinklers. It comes with 20 per cent lower installation costs and is 10 times faster than other two-wire systems in reducing diagnostic test times. Plus, it’s available in either hard wire format or digitally for communication between the Lynx controller and Smart Hub to offer the possibility of further reductions in cabling costs. “Management, maintenance, installation and operation are all easy with the Smart System thanks to increased control. Because you can control sprinkler run times to within plus or minus a second you get exactly the right amount of water where it’s needed. Just imagine running 1000 sprinklers The twoat 80lpm wire system for just 30 seconds less – that could save about 40 cubic metres a day and considerably reduce power costs.” www.reesink THE GROUNDSMAN 45

Tools & guidance MAINTENANCE CALENDAR R U G BY R E VA M P E D A pilot scheme for renovations with GaNTIP, page 50



Assuming there has been regular pitch use throughout the season, there will be some compaction; alleviate with aeration. Renovating a rugby pitch turf surface will prepare it for the receipt of renovation materials. The choice and quantity of grass seed will depend on the condition of the pitch, the amount of expected use, the soil type and whether artificial irrigation is available to aid sward establishment. The amount of topdressing applied during renovation will vary considerably depending upon circumstances, but a typical amount might be 30 tonnes.

Mowing will typically be carried out five times per week, with the mowing height being around 5mm. Any areas on the green that haven’t been successfully renovated should be targeted. Don't verticut the greens too frequently as growth is still variable, with there still being the chance of a cold or dry spell, as well as seedling establishment from any renovation work still being ‘delicate’. Towards the end of the month is usually a good time to carry out any selective herbicide applications.


Cut regularly to encourage growth and sward thickening. Irrigation should be used if required. Overseeding may be required if temperatures dictate. A seed and soil mix to fill in untreated hollows in your surface may be required. Drop the height of cut if necessary – 35-40mm should be suitable depending on team requirements. Fill in any untreated divots.

Mowing may peak at three times per week on occasions. Don’t neglect strimming around track posts as this will affect the presentation of the course. Irrigate as required to help produce the desired level of firmness of ground, i.e. the ‘going’, for flat racing courses and to aid the establishment of renovated areas. Use a ring-roller to firm and stripe the course; or use a chain harrow with the smooth side downwards. Post-meeting repair work will include harrowing in the opposite direction as that of the race. Weed control might be required on selected areas of the course.




Spring fertiliser should have kicked in and the greens should be producing a good grass coverage.

The season commences and compliments should be forthcoming from players.

Roll the court to firm the surface. Mowing will be regular, typically three occasions per week, and the height of cut will be at its lowest. Apply artificial irrigation. Dragbrush often to remove dew. Use a spiked roller to maintain an aerated, yet consolidated, surface profile and to aid water infiltration. Be careful not to verticut or groom too intensively, especially on areas of the court that may have been oversown in April.

height of cut to 6mm or higher for as long as possible. Areas of the green which had been renovated in April, or late March, should not be treated to any form of heavy scarification as this will only tear out young grasses. Watch out for signs of fusarium patch disease that especially wet, dewy mornings bring in prevalence. Ensure the greens are adequately brushed and/or switched early in the mornings.



The season is coming to an end and post-season renovation is the name of the game. The key to a successful renovation programme is to complete the task in as short a time as possible – don’t forget the next season starts from mid-August. The application of a topdressing, typically sand, must be adequately incorporated into the soil profile. It is good to scarify the surface before applying topdressing; this can be with a chain harrow with the tines downwards or a mechanical scarifier. The choice of grass seed will depend on the standard of the pitch as well as existing rootzone material and this will also apply to the type of fertiliser chosen.


The season will be a few weeks old, although there are still cold spells, especially at night. Be careful not to set the mower too low as the grass is only ‘getting going’ at present. Cold snaps or May dry spells can still occur, retarding growth. It is sensible, therefore, to keep the

Scarification of the square and during wicket preparation is important for reducing undesirable thatch and this will help to improve bounce and pace, although wickets will probably still be on the slow side at present as the ground won’t have been able to dry out adequately yet. Wicket preparation will occur 7-10 days before a game; up to 14 days for top-class cricket. A mainly nitrogen fertiliser should have been applied. Beware of leaching due to wet weather as this may reduce the anticipated time for the next application.


Early use of the outfield should provide feedback of any slight depressions needing attention. Aeration can be considered, before the soil dries out too much. Scarification, to reduce and control undesirable thatch buildup, is also ideally undertaken now. The end of May is usually a good time to apply a selective herbicide. Mow regularly now usually once per week and aim for a height of cut of 10-15mm. THE GROUNDSMAN 47





T section of The Groundsman please contact: Lee Morris T: 0203 859 7097 E: lee.morris@



0203 859 7097 THE GROUNDSMAN 49

Assessments by regional pitch advisors have shown real improvements

RUGBY PITCH PILOT IS ON THE RIGHT COURSE A pilot rugby pitch renovation and maintenance project between the Rugby Football League and Sport England under the guidance of the GaNTIP is showing real benefits


mateur rugby clubs have some of the most inadequate playing facilities across all sports, yet the year-round demand on those pitches gives clubs little opportunity to renovate and improve their playing surfaces. In an attempt to address the problem, in 2016 under guidance of the Grounds and Natural Turf Improvement Programme (GaNTIP), the Rugby Football League in partnership with Sport England developed a pilot project that would include the renovation of the pitches of three amateur clubs. In return for each club committing to the project (for 10 years) the project would provide them with the appropriate equipment and an ongoing maintenance programme.

If successful, the pilot could pave the way for future investment and development of grassroots facilities. In September 2016, following consultation with TGMS Ltd (sports surface consultants) and using an agreed schedule of work with a qualified contractor, work commenced to renovate the training pitches (second match pitches) at Normanton Knights ARLFC in West Yorkshire, Lancashire-based Thatto Heath Crusaders ARLFC in St Helens and Cadishead Rhinos ARLFC in Manchester. The maintenance of the sites was facilitated via the Sport England procurement process that saw each club take delivery of a 23hp compact tractor with cutting deck and threepoint linkage, as well as a Terra Slit, Terra Rake, Terra Groom and a fertiliser spreader.

PROOF OF PROGRESS The new equipment has been a huge help to the clubs

50 THE GROUNDSMAN April 2019

GaNTIP regional pitch advisors would assess the programme using the Performance Quality Standards (PQS) system. PQS readings would be taken across three areas – the 10m line, pitch centre and at one wing area – before work commenced and then every subsequent autumn. In each case, the players kept off the renovated areas as much as possible while

By Ian Powell Regional pitch advisor

the sward developed and now, two years on, the readings are showing how much progress has been made: Grass height is consistent at 30-35mm Ground cover is around 75 per cent and increasing Root depth is 100-150mm There is no evidence of weed infestation (indications of red thread were identified and addressed). The machinery has made a big difference not just to the renovated pitches but also to the clubs’ other pitches, especially alleviating compaction which had been a major concern. As Paul Elliott, secretary of Cadishead Rhinos ARLFC, says: “The project has allowed us to lease the pitch from the local council and we are now responsible for maintaining it. As such, pitch quality is much better due to the frequency of cuts and the extra maintenance, which has led to a much-improved matchday experience for the players. In addition, we have been able to hire out the pitch to other community and representative sides for training and matches.”


For more details of GaNTIP, visit

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