The Groundsman March 2019

Page 1



MARCH 2019 £4.00


Reach new heights in your career with IOG training page 17

MEET THE NEWBIES The IOG Young Board new recruits


Head groundsman Chris Long on his new vision for the University of Leicester’s grounds





05 Welcome

All together now!

Pedestrian mowers, UTVs and ATVs page 39

06 Update

The latest turf care news

12 SALTEX news

Exhibitors expand their presence in 2019

15 GaNTIP: Update

PIP partnerships help Great Yarmouth Town FC excel

27 In action

RT Machinery and Rigby Taylor

32 Award sponsor

Charterhouse Turf Machinery


37 In action

Limagrain and Ransomes

39 Product showcase

Mowers, UTVs and ATVs

46 Tools & guidance

Maintenance tips for April

FEATURES 17 Grow with the IOG

Reach new heights with CPD

18 Best practice

The grounds team’s work at the University of Leicester

22 IOG Young Board: New faces



Chris Long, head groundsman at the University of Leicester

Meet our four new directors

25 Czech conference report The latest from Prague

29 Tech update

Synthetic turf waste

34 Tech update

Wildlife protection advice

50 Grow with the IOG

Karen Best, Salisbury Racecourse




Editorial address: 28 Stratford Office Village, Walker Avenue, Wolverton Mill East, Milton Keynes MK12 5TW t: 07785 293077 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 Sue Fernandes 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.


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Welcome All together now!


Karen Maxwell Managing editor

With BTME at Harrogate the same week as the ESSMA Summit in Portugal plus the STMA Conference and Exhibition in the USA being followed by the Czech IOG Conference in Prague and the Golf Industry Show in the USA, it's fair to say that the suppliers of products and services have covered a substantial amount of miles already this year promoting the best of what the turf industry offers. Their attendance at these events also demonstrates the influence of UK businesses and expertise within the turf sector both here and abroad. I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at a number of these events and I must say it is always very useful to learn from others as well as network, pick up new ideas and to see the emerging innovation. The current UK political outlook is fluid, to say the least, and as I write we are closing in on the deadline for Brexit. The uncertainty is not helpful to anyone in business, particularly now with a number of car manufacturers signalling their intention to close down UK plants. I wonder if there will be a ripple effect on manufacturers and suppliers of turf-related products? The talk at BTME was the re-configuration of the halls and the new layout. Like the IOG, BIGGA has a difficult job navigating the needs of a membership organisation and delivering an annual trade show. We know from our own deliberations of relocating SALTEX that change is never easy – but change can be for the better: the post-show survey of last year's SALTEX exhibitors revealed an overwhelming number reporting hugely successful business results, with many claiming that it was the most valuable to date. So, credit to the BIGGA team for taking such a bold decision. From the IOG's perspective, our stand was busy, and we met a lot of our members and had some useful meetings. For us, BTME enabled the IOG to fulfil our objectives. What I take from all the various events is an infectious thirst for knowledge; with lots of new thinking, innovation and opportunity as well as a real passion for all things turf. We are blessed with excellent sports facilities, a turf care profession that has a long history in the UK and an infrastructure of suppliers that serves the industry well. In these challenging times, when division appears to be a trend, let's accentuate the positives and celebrate those helping to take the UK turf sector forwards. After all, we are all trying to improve standards, and enhance knowledge and understanding.

Colin Hoskins Features editor

Phil Jeggo Regional pitch advisor

Chris Gray IOG learning programme architect

Michal KoĹĽan IOG Czech Branch chairman

Greg Rhodes Feature writer

Geoff Webb Chief Executive The Institute of Groundsmanship Rowan Rumball STRI ecology consultant KEEP IN TOUCH

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



PEST & DISEASE UPDATE AT LINGFIELD PARK THE IOG is hosting an Amenity Forum Updating Event, upported by John Deere, at Lingfield Park Racecourse, Surrey, on Tuesday 19 March. This half-day event is free to attend and includes lunch, followed by a tour of the racecourse. Email: admin@ or call 01926 650391 to register your place.



The new guidance will help businesses that use pesticides to prepare for Brexit


Guidance for businesses that use pesticides THE GOVERNMENT has published additional guidance for businesses that use pesticides on how to prepare for the UK leaving the EU, with or without a deal. If the UK leaves the EU with a deal, we will be subject to an implementation period, where all

“The Health & Safety Executive will not be able to evaluate new substances�


current available pesticides will continue to be available. However, the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) will not be able to evaluate new substances for pesticide use and therefore UK businesses will need to make applications to a competent authority in an EU Member State. In the event of a no deal, all pesticides currently available in the UK will remain available and HSE will be able to consider applications for future PPP use from day one. The new guidance is available at If you have further questions, please email:

FEELING UNDER pressure? Then join this free workshop in Bury St Edmunds on 12 March on dealing with stress, hosted by British Sugar TOPSOIL and supported by the IOG, BIGGA and BALI, with Dave Cottrell of Mindset Coaching and CoFit Personal Training. Register by emailing ronaldo.carion@


GROUPS REUNITED MEMBERS OF the Land Drainage Contractors Association have agreed to form a new group within the National Association of Agricultural Contractors, a group they split from in 1984. The contractors will reap the benefits of being part of a larger organisation, while retaining their lobbying power. The NAAC wants to promote the benefits of land drainage to mitigate flood risk and will be engaging with Defra to ensure that messages are reinforced.




Perennial’s pledge for 180th anniversary year PERENNIAL KICKED off its 180th anniversary in style with its annual Party for Perennial at La Goccia in Covent Garden on 29 January. More than 160 people enjoyed an evening of networking and fundraising in support of the horticulture industry’s only social and welfare support charity. The party also formally launched Perennial’s annual fundraising campaign. The charity is challenging people to take part in its Marathon Month in June, where people can run or walk a marathon in their own time with the target of raising £180 in sponsorship. Participants track their distance via an exercise app and there is a leader board for the more competitive.


u orters can c oose a c a enge to su ort erennia

There are also three overseas challenges: trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or cycling from Ho Chi Minh to Angkor Wat, while raising funds through sponsorship. Closer to home, events include abseiling and running. To sign up for one of the fundraising activities, visit


EXPERTS DISCUSS IMPACT OF JAPANESE KNOTWEED A PARLIAMENTARY Inquiry is currently underway to investigate the impact of Japanese knotweed on the built environment. Academics and business leaders were invited to discuss the issue at an evidence session on 22 January, hosted by the Science and Technology Committee, and which included a submission from the Amenity Forum. The panel focused on scientific evidence relating to the effects of Japanese knotweed and the experience of professionals working in the area. Professor John Moverley, chairman

of the Amenity Forum, said: “It is vital that knotweed control is undertaken properly and by professionally qualified operators and organisations who fully subscribe to the standards and best practice laid down,” he said. “The Amenity Forum is currently developing an overarching assurance standard for the sector and we would urge all employing any operators to ensure that they can deliver to such a standard and, in so doing, fully support the work and objectives of the Amenity Forum.” The inquiry is expected to publish its findings later this year.

Japanese knotweed is di cu t to contro



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DOMO Sport Grass is hosting a Rugby Turf seminar on 4 April at Grasshoppers RFC, Osterley. Starting at 5:30pm, this free event will cover the construction and installation of DOMO’s 3G pitch system and how it fits with World Rugby regulations. This will be followed by a Q&A with Grasshoppers RFC staff and players. Dinner and drinks will be served at 8:30pm and former Bath and England rugby player Gareth Chilcott will provide the entertainment. Please email Nick.Rickerby@domosportsgrass. com if you’d like to attend.


RESULT FOR RYEGRASS CABRIO ULTRA Fine Ryegrass has, for the third consecutive year, been named the number one variety for fineness of leaf in the British Society of Plant Breeders’ Series L Table 1 for perennial ryegrasses. Formally introduced as a new cultivar in 2016, Cabrio Ultra Fine Ryegrass went straight to the top of the BSPB’s Table L1 for 2017, retained this position in 2018 and enjoys the same position in 2019’s list thanks to a rating of 8.7. Download the Buyers’ Guide here:


MAKING ITS MARK ADVANCE GRASS Solutions has announced a UK exclusive distributor agreement with Selectline line marking paint. Selectline has more than 30 years’ experience in manufacturing line marking paint for the European market. The company has its own research and development facility in The Netherlands, France. The Selectline range consists of highquality concentrates and readyto-mix paints to suit all budgets. THE GROUNDSMAN 7



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


TH WHITE has announced a change of leadership. Divisional director Tim Lane, who established the firm’s machinery imports business in 2016, and has been instrumental in the growth and success of the business, has moved to a new role after 19 years at the company. Bill Johnston assumed the role of head of machinery imports on 1 February and has taken full responsibility for the management of the division.

NEWS Bill Johnston (right)


David Mahoney

Clare Connor

THE ENGLAND and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has made two appointments to its executive top team. David Mahoney has been named chief operating officer, while former England women’s team captain Clare Connor has been named managing director for women’s cricket. Mahoney, a former director of policy at Ofcom, first joined ECB in 2016, when he took up the role of director of strategy. Connor, who retired from cricket in 2006, has been at the head of the women’s game since 2008 and was appointed a member of the International Cricket Council’s committee in 2012. In her new role, she will be responsible for developing women’s cricket.


CHRISTINE LILLINGTON THE IOG was sad to hear of the death of Christine Lillington, wife of Michael – IOG life member and former chair of the Bristol Branch – in early February. The couple have been long-term supporters of the IOG. Their son, Ian, said their involvement with the IOG gave them much pleasure and valued contact with others in the profession. Although Christine’s funeral was in late February, donations are welcomed by The Alzheimer’s Society: get-involved/make-donation.




GREG CLARKE, the chairman of the Football Association, has been elected to Greg Clarke serve a four-year term as a FIFA vice president. Clarke will take the seat on FIFA’s Council that belonged to former Manchester United chief executive David Gill, who announced his decision to step down last year. Clarke beat Irish Football Association chairman David Martin in a vote at the UEFA Congress, Rome, to take the British seat on the council.

SPORTSCOTLAND has appointed Forbes Dunlop, CEO of Scottish Swimming, as its Forbes Dunlop new chief operating officer. Dunlop, who spent six years at Scottish Swimming, will take up the role in April. “The role with Sportscotland is a really exciting one and an opportunity for me that was just too good to pass,” he said. Stewart Harris, Sportscotland CEO, said Dunlop will have a “crucial role” in shaping the organisation’s future.

IOG stalwart Len Smith has retired after a 57-year career in groundsmanship. Len started work, aged 15, at Cardiff Botanical Gardens. He joined Penylan Bowling & Lawn Tennis Club before moving into greenkeeping at Radyr Golf Club. He worked at the Polytechnic of Wales (now the University of Glamorgan) and Somerset CC before joining Glamorgan CC – where he helped to create a pitch that brought Test cricket to the venue. He became an IOG regional pitch advisor in 2009.








S&C SLATTER ACQUIRES WHITE HORSE CONTRACTORS d ra�ord as been named as a ost enue


Venues announced for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup THE VENUES have been announced for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup. Old Trafford in Manchester, which will host the finals, and St James’ Park in Newcastle, which will host the opening ceremony, are among the 21 stadia selected for the tournament, which is being held across England in two years’ time.

“The tournament will be the most inclusive rugby league event ever”

The Emirates Stadium will host a men’s semi-final, making rugby league the only sport other than football to have been played at the home of Arsenal FC. Set to be the most inclusive rugby league event ever, RLWC2021 will see the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments played concurrently for the first time. Tournament organisers have met the Government target of hosting at least 80 per cent of the tournament in the ‘Northern Powerhouse’, with games taking place in Doncaster, Huddersfield, Hull, Leeds and York.

THE FULL LIST OF VENUES: Newcastle, St James’ Park (52,405) Sheffield, Bramall Lane (32,702) & English Institute of Sport Doncaster, Keepmoat Stadium (15,231) Hull, KCOM Stadium (25,586) York, York Community Stadium (8,005) Huddersfield, John Smith’s Stadium (24,500) Leeds, Elland Road (37,890) & Headingley Stadium (21,062) Liverpool, Anfield (54,074) Manchester, Old Trafford (74,994) St Helens, Totally Wicked Stadium (18,000)

Wigan & Leigh, Leigh Sports Village (12,000) Bolton, University of Bolton Stadium (28,723) London, Emirates Stadium (60,260) & Copper Box Arena (7,500) Middlesbrough, Riverside Stadium (34,742) Workington, Workington community stadium (to be built) Coventry, Ricoh Arena (32,609)


SPORTS PITCH specialist GreenFields has announced a partnership with facilities management company and club house constructor FM247. The collaboration means GreenFields, the official pitch partner of the EVO-STIK Northern Premier League and EVO-STIK League South, can offer a ‘one stop’ building solution, which recognises the growing need from clubs at this level to communicate and plan ground developments through one firm. Clubs which want a new 3G pitch and a club house refurbishment or new build can now arrange all the work through GreenFields or FM247.


Warrington, Halliwell Jones Stadium (15,200)



Preston, First training base to be revealed


ACCORDING TO S&C Slatter, this acquisition enables a large scope of services to a broad reach of clients within the sports grounds, amenity, leisure, agricultural and equestrian sectors. White Horse Contractors’ expertise in the construction of natural turf sports facilities, land drainage, water engineering, landscaping and civil engineering projects complements S&C Slatter’s proven success in sports facility design and construction – including natural pitches, multiuse games areas and hard and soft landscaping.

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THE IOG Shropshire Branch is looking for volunteers to staff the IOG stand at the Malvern Spring Show from 9-12 May 2019. If you’re interested, please contact Ian Morris on 07950 454367 or email THE GROUNDSMAN 9



Find the best units for aerating your grounds this spring on page 37

The sprayer’s GPS technology helps to avoid overlaps


AVAILABLE EXCLUSIVELY for use with the Pro ator heavy-duty utility vehicle, this hi-tech system offers turf professionals a solution for precision spraying. Featuring AutoTrac satellite guided automatic steering, a fullcolour in-cab touchscreen display and individual no le control, the easy-touse PS PrecisionSprayer increases application accuracy and consistency, lowers input costs through reduced overlaps and misses, helps protect the environment and increases productivity by reducing operator fatigue.


RIGBY TAYLOR has introduced Cold Start Boost-R, a true cold-start fertiliser that provides turf with nitrogen in cold conditions, in conjunction with a rapid colour boost. Effective at temperatures of 5°C, Cold Start Boost-R is designed to prepare the plant for the spring, greatly improve early-season colour and assist in combating turf disease attack. With a nitrate and high iron content, as well as magnesium for increased colour, Cold Start Boost-R also includes zeolite to reduce leaching and improve cation exchange capacity.

New sprayer, turf treatments and goal wheels






The PS PrecisionSprayer uses advanced satellite technology and mobile RTK (real-time kinematic) navigation to ensure the reliability of boundary maps and allow users to create spray coverage maps, which help to eliminate overlaps and increase productivity. The machine can also capture all spray data electronically and analyse the results, which streamlines the documentation process and provides analytics for recording and legislation purposes.


SPORTS EQUIPMENT retailer Net World Sports has developed a patented 360 wheel to offer football goal manoeuvrability. The lever-operated FORZA Alu110 360 rotational goal wheel, which has been designed and tested in con unction with Manchester United’s grounds team, facilitates hassle-free movement in all directions.


SaltSmart reduces the impact of salt

ICL HAS LAUNCHED a new H2Pro wetting agent: SaltSmart. A blend of penetrant surfactant and calcium macropolymer, it’s designed to move water and exchange cations thus reducing the impact of salt on turf. It works by allowing water to penetrate and dissolve

10 THE GROUNDSMAN March 2019

and flush salts below the rooting level or out into the drainage system. The build-up of salt levels in rootzones can be a problem in sports turf and H2Pro SaltSmart will be useful for venues close to the sea or for those who encounter high

evaporation and low rainfall. The product could also be beneficial for low CEC sandbased rootzones that have limited buffering against salt influx, and for turf managers who have poor quality groundwater for irrigation. /



By Chris Bennett SALTEX press officer

Great business networking opportunities have encouraged exhibitors to expand their presence at this year’s show


Now in its 74th year, SALTEX is growing from strength to strength in its NEC home, attracting renowned exhibitors


t’s still six months before this year’s event, but already 70 per cent of the SALTEX 2019 floorplan has been allocated, with more than 180 SALTEX 2018 exhibitors returning. Over 40 of these exhibitors have increased the size of their stand and a further influx of debut exhibitors are looking to engage with the show this year. Campey Turf Care Systems will be building on its success at SALTEX 2018 by upgrading its stand and showcasing an even wider range of turf machinery. “The SALTEX exhibition has proved it is still popular with the professional groundsperson, attracting visitors from both here and abroad,” said managing director Richard Campey. “Last year we trialled a smaller stand with an area for seating and refreshments for our visitors. This was very successful, so this year we are taking a larger stand to create an even more welcoming space for our customers while at the same time increasing the number of machines on display.” AS Communications, a provider of industry-leading technology to the amenity and agricultural sectors, has enjoyed many successful SALTEX exhibitions over the years and, according to marketing manager Holly Jones, now is the time to maximise its show presence.

12 THE GROUNDSMAN March 2019

“We’ve been exhibiting at SALTEX for a number of years now and have always found it to be a good event. SALTEX allows us to meet numerous turf professionals across the grounds industry in a very focused environment. The show is going from strength to strength, something we are aspiring to do too, hence investing in our stand space and design.”


Lister Wilder is a new exhibitor for 2019 and division sales director Phill Hughes revealed that the company will be using its first appearance at the NEC as an opportunity to promote its impressive hire division. “I’ve been monitoring show attendance and feedback prior to making a commitment. My view of last year was that it felt like there was a level of excitement around the manufacturers. The customers attending appear to be of good quality and in good spirit, something which I believe has been achieved by combining the IOG Awards with the show. “Over the last few years we have seen a rise in the number of commercial fleet customers looking for both long- and short-term hire as an alternative to purchasing assets and we look forward to promoting our commercial hire division to a wider audience in order to increase our current customer base.”

For Arysta LifeScience, a global agricultural company specialising in the marketing and distribution of innovative crop protection and biosolution brands, the opportunity to meet distributors and end users was a major factor in deciding to exhibit at SALTEX for the first time. Following the acquisition of Arysta LifeScience by UPL in January, the two companies will become one, with Arysta LifeScience presenting itself as UPL at SALTEX. Campaigns and communications manager Janine Heath said: “As we continue to drive into niche crop sectors we thought it would be a good idea to exhibit at SALTEX. “Although we sell through distributors, we also aim to connect with end users. If we raise the brand awareness among them, then it’s more than likely to drive back up the chain. “We’re always looking to expand our customer base and build business and SALTEX is a great occasion to meet everyone in one place.” SALTEX 2019 takes place at the NEC, Birmingham on 30-31 October. For more information visit Follow SALTEX on Twitter @IOG_SALTEX and Facebook


By Phil Jeggo Regional pitch advisor

YARMOUTH’S GREAT AGAIN A joint programme with the Norfolk County FA, the Grounds and Natural Turf Improvement Programme (GaNTIP) and the local borough council has brought vast improvements to Great Yarmouth Town’s stadium surface


reat Yarmouth Town Football Club was formed in 1897 and the team still plays at the same Wellesley Road stadium ground as it did all those years ago, nowadays staging Eastern Counties Premier Division matches. The ground is owned by Great Yarmouth Borough Council and the pitch is maintained by the authority’s contractor, Great Yarmouth Borough Services. There was an initial Pitch Improvement Programme (PIP) visit in November 2016, then my involvement as a regional pitch advisor started when I visited a year later. As result of the visit I made recommendations that included, as part of the end-of-season renovations: Decompaction Overseeding via a disc seeder Minimum 60 tonnes of 70/30 topdressing The instigation of a fertiliser programme. All recommendations were carried out in early May 2018. However, complicating

The dry 2018 summer a�ected t e reno ations

The Wellesley Road pitch is looking better than ever

“The biggest challenge now is to sustain this in the future” matters, an athletics track surrounds the pitch and is used by schools from May to July – a period that, last year, coincided with one of the hottest and driest summers on record. The result was little and poor germination so the recommended actions (excluding topdressing) had to be repeated mid-July to give the pitch every chance of being ready for the new season. Irrigation was applied 24/7. The club was persuaded to cancel its scheduled home games in early August for the long-term benefit of the surface, to give the pitch at least five weeks to reestablish. The first home game took place during the first week of September. We offered further support to the club in the

form of a general maintenance plan for the upcoming season, which the council instigated. Today, the club has received very positive feedback and the pitch is now in the best condition it has been for years. Social media comments posted ahead of the opening league game were positive: “Wellesley looking the best it has looked for many a year”; “That looks amazing – best I’ve seen it since I started following the Bloaters in 1966”; “Pitch looks fantastic”. Working together, the club, the Grounds and Natural Turf Improvement Programme, Norfolk County FA and Great Yarmouth Borough Council – which has also signed up four additional sites to the PIP – are jointly responsible for this achievement. The biggest challenge now is to sustain this in the future. Visit for more details about the Grounds and Natural Turf Improvement Programme


Climb higher in your career with the help of a CPD programme


By Chris Gray IOG learning programme architect

REACH NEW HEIGHTS WITH CPD Help yourself to climb the career ladder with this structured but flexible approach


f you think of knowledge as an iceberg, with your current understanding and abilities as being above the waterline, beneath the surface is a vast and untapped reservoir of knowledge and development. Continual professional development (CPD) is a structured way of using different ideas and techniques to help you manage your own learning and growth, helping you become the best you can.


IOG members can join our programme, which requires a total of 35 hours of learning to be undertaken during a 12-month period. You don’t need to register to start your CPD, only when you want to claim. Our programme requires you to capture useful experiences and reflect on the practical benefits of what you have learnt. This professional, reflective approach is what distinguishes it from other programmes.


You will need to keep a simple diary or journal – a hard copy or electronic notes – and write down regularly what you’ve learnt and how

“CPD helps me to maintain and develop my knowledge”

it has benefited you as well as how it has benefitted your employer.


There are many ways of recording reflections, including the following: • Describe the experience, ie what happened: focus on the key area(s) of the learning. If it was a course, then describe what the course was about. • Interpret the experience: explore and explain it. What did you think about it? What benefits did you gain? • Learn from the experience: what other information might you need to help improve your understanding? Consider how it might affect future action or activities; what might you do differently next time?


At the end of a 12-month period, you submit your claim for recognition and confirm the learning undertaken. Providing the IOG with access to your journal and/or other evidence means it can be sampled for verification. Upon successful acceptance of the application form and sampling, the IOG issues a Certificate of CPD Achievement as formal recognition for the learning.


Visit careers/cpd to find out more.

BENEFITS OF UNDERTAKING CPD “CPD helps my knowledge stay relevant and up to date, and I am more aware of changing trends within the industry. CPD helped me to maintain and develop my knowledge in the skills that I developed when I studied for my Higher National Diploma.” James Wright, grounds and gardens team leader, University of Leeds “CPD shows your employer and managers what you have completed to develop and improve yourself, which is ideal for annual appraisals. It is a very good motivational tool to help you continue personal development year in, year out.” Gary Norwood, sports grounds manager, Royal Holloway, University of London THE GROUNDSMAN 17

Photos: Speedmediaone


18 THE GROUNDSMAN March 2019

Chris Long’s training matrix and new turf care provisions help the University of Leicester’s grounds excel under a demanding schedule





By Greg Rhodes Feature writer

Last year was an exciting one for the University of Leicester grounds team as its turf care programme took a quantum leap forward – in both strategy and efficiency


oming into post in late 2017 as the University of Leicester’s gardens and grounds manager, Adam Tester aligned the sports grounds and horticultural services departments to create the gardens and grounds division. The action has resulted in “a much better service that allows the department to align budgets and have greater flexibility over future planning”, he says. Under tight timescales, head groundsman Chris Long has assembled a complete training matrix for the service, enabling him and his team to introduce new qualifications to the department and raise turf care quality. “The realignment gives me more leave to develop a vision for the sports grounds service,” Chris explains, “allowing me to focus on the pitches to achieve a high standard for participants.” The work devoted to those improvements was recognised last October when Chris and the team lifted the IOG Redexim Charterhouse Kubota

University/College Grounds Team of the Year Award, to mark excellence in sports surfaces and green space management. “I wasn’t going to enter,” admits Chris, “but Adam said: ‘You may as well’. When you’re competing against the likes of St Andrews and Loughborough you never think you’ll win. But when our name came up, I didn’t know whether to jump and scream or sit in shock.”


Adam believes the award is “a true testament” to the dedication and hard work the grounds team puts in. Chris adds: “Staff and students tell us the pitches have never looked better, so we must be doing something right.” Provision sprawls across 80 acres on two sites, Stoughton Road and Manor Road, so everything has to run like clockwork. No fewer than 5,566 participants used the pitches in 2018. Football pitches are the most intensively played, with 308 fixtures on five pitches. Rugby union runs 46 fixtures on two pitches, 23 games on each. Lacrosse sees 41 fixtures on Stoughton Road’s two dedicated

“When you’re competing against the likes of St Andrews and Loughborough, you never think you’ll win. When our name came up, I didn’t know whether to jump and scream or sit in shock!”

pitches, each staging 30.5 games. BUCS men’s and women’s teams include seven football, five rugby union, single rugby league, American football and lacrosse sides, four hockey, three cricket and two Ultimate Frisbee sides. Interaction with coaches is important in regulating wear. Each August, 300 to 400 footballers descend on Stoughton Road for BUCS pre-season trials. “Our advice is simple. Use the pitches but be savvy. When training, confine ‘fast feet’ to areas between pitches.” The rugby training pitch at Manor Road is used seven nights a week and is one of the hardest areas to keep in top condition. “We cordon off areas of the pitch to steer teams away from playing on the same areas,” Chris explains, “and email each captain to remind them to rotate teams around the pitch.” The number of intramural games presents tough challenges for the team. “Our football and rugby pitches have another two or three games on each pitch every Sunday,” Chris continues. “Most sport is played on Wednesdays and at weekends so the density of fixtures leaves only four days during the week for repairs and preparations.” External weekly use adds to the congestion on top of student fixtures. Leicester Ladies Academy, County club cricket, Rounders England, Softball UK, Leicester Tigers, staff teams (cricket, football and rugby) and local schools are all clamouring for pitch time. THE GROUNDSMAN 19


MACHINERY MATTERS The university team uses a range of equipment, including: TYM T503 tractor 2 x Toro 3100D Reelmaster triple mowers Toro Workman Toro Procore 2 x Dennis G860 mowers Dennis G870 mower (an older model) 2 x Allett RM34 cylinder mowers Allett Rover spreader Allett Tournament 20 cylinder mower Ransomes cylinder mower SISIS Rotorake Honda rotary mower Pitchmark Hybrid line marker Hardy 600l sprayer.

THE NUMBERS GAME The grounds team prepared pitches for 506 fixtures: BUCS (British Universities & Colleges Sport) – 129 Intramural – 216 External winter pitches – 97 External cricket pitches – 64

20 THE GROUNDSMAN March 2019

All playing areas at Manor Road are floodlit (not permitted at Stoughton Road because of neighbourhood restrictions) and the sand-based synthetic turf pitch is in action 12 hours daily for hockey, along with the 4G five-a-side football area and three Savannah sand-filled and eight hard tennis courts. Playability of the natural turf playing surfaces is attracting top-line sport. “Leicester Tigers held its pre-season training camps at Stoughton Road,” Chris reports. “Head coach Matt O’Connor and squad members gave us great feedback about the high quality of the surfaces.” Softball and blind cricket associations choose the grounds for their national events. The Rounders England National Schools Competition is staged there, and it is the preferred venue for The City Cricket Academy. Gazing out in bright winter sun over immaculate pitches, resting on several tiers, you can appreciate the transformational change the grounds team has made. “We fraise-mowed three football pitches last April then renovated them. With a heavy clay profile without extensive drainage, we are very weather-dependent so have to fit work in when there’s a window,” Chris says. The diversity and density of fixtures sees a host of sports played. “We are one of the few grounds with a permanently markedout pitch for American football,” Chris notes. Two dedicated lacrosse pitches confirm that sport’s growing popularity. Add to those the three football and two rugby union pitches at Stoughton Road and

you understand why Chris is anxious to apply differing cultivars on different surfaces. “Intensity of use differs markedly so I’m trialling five different seed mixes across five pitches to see which best suit which sport after applying 10 bags of seed and five bags of fertiliser per pitch.” The liquid seaweed fertiliser with extra calcium and magnesium from Consolidate Turf he tested last year brought an instant hit. “We applied it 72 hours before a rugby league play-off final and within 48 hours the sward colour looked fabulous and was sustained for three weeks – fantastic recovery, too.” Five of the 10 Stoughton Road pitches will be on the programme, sprayed every four weeks from June through to March. Maintenance also includes regular aeration and fertiliser spray applied to the other five pitches every four weeks, along with a base feed quarterly.


Addressing the issues the heavy clay profile presents is another priority as plans are made to install 80mm drains at 500mm depth under the bank running along the spine of the ground, to link with two main conduits under the rugby league pitches feeding the brook on the far side. Duties at the two huge sites are split between full-timer Jack Gilford and parttimer Mark Wilson at 30-acre Manor Road, and Chris and fellow full-timer Craig Mowe at Stoughton Road’s 50 acres.



Clockwise from far left: Chris Long (left) with his team (l-r)Jack Gilford, Craig Mowe and Mark Wilson; the second team football pitch and cricket nets; Leicester Tigers in pre-season training; Craig on line-marking duty; some of the thousands of trees the team manages as part of their work; trenching underway before laying secondary drains under t e rst team ootba itc and maintaining a Dennis G870 mower

“We believe in consistently trying to better ourselves and the service, and will always pursue perfection” Always a grounds professional and football fan (Sheffield Wednesday) Chris, 39, joined in July 2017 from St George’s Park, picking up his Level 2 Sports turf Management accreditation from Brooksby Melton College along the way. “With so many football pitches, I’m in my element,” he says. Focused on furthering his education, Chris is about to start his Level 4 training. “The university is great at helping us become more qualified,” he says. When Chris arrived, Stoughton Road was “a big open field with no pitch definition and a shed housing old, tired and unacceptable machinery passed down from the gardening team”. After trialling kit early last year, he specified a Toro package of a 3100D Reelmaster triple mower, ProCore and Workman, plus two Dennis G860 walkbehinds purchased from Leicester City FC. “Managing so large a space means you have to be comfortable on the machinery,” says Chris. “We are raising the bar from where we were 12 months ago.” Chris usually meets Adam for a Monday morning one-to-one to check the coming week’s work and raise any maintenance matters. On Wednesdays he touches base with former Leicester Tigers player and

head of sport, Matthew Weir. “We talk through the fixtures programme to ensure everything’s running to schedule.”


Craig handles linemarking at Stoughton and it can prove “crazy complicated”, what with Leicester Ladies football U10s, U12s, and U14s playing on one size and the U16s on a full-size surface with both blue and white markings. “We took the U14s ‘blue’ pitch onto the rugby league pitch as it has lighter use. The U10s and U12s pitches are marked out either side of the main square.” Rugby union and lacrosse pitches stay dedicated but recently when an extra union fixture arose, the team marked out a rugby league pitch to oblige. “Then we have the two 18-yard lines for frisbee,” adds Chris. “American football and lacrosse presented new challenges but we’ve built up our confidence.” The two cricket squares include 11 first team strips and seven on the second area at the bottom of Stoughton Road. University and staff fixtures predominate on the first square, with public use confined to the second but plans are afoot to attract more games there. This is Jack’s home turf. The

20-year-old plays for Leicester Ivanhoe as “a bowling all-rounder” in the Premier League and he tends the squares from the first fixture (on 20 April) ‘til the final game on 14 September. “Jack’s the main cricket guy but our team culture is that we all can do everything.” Not confined to cricket though, Jack took his chainsaw qualification last January, enabling him to help Mark with lopping the copses. Craig, 26, in post for six months, is working to his Level 2. “He has sound knowledge and, if I’m away, he knows what needs doing,” says Chris, “I’m lucky to have him – a real professional.” Mark (who is “60-something”) puts in 22 hours a week “but is happy to do more. He was not machine savvy and had never driven a tractor or mowed but he has built his base with Jack and has just completed his PA1 and PA6 spraying certificates. I also hope to bring in an apprentice this year, too.” Does Chris feel it’s a case of ‘job done’? He laughs: “I try to keep things simple – you can overcomplicate things but I know what I want the grounds to look like and, after a walkabout, the results must be pretty near that vision. As a team we believe in consistently trying to better ourselves and the service, and will always pursue perfection.”


Visit for a list of 2018 IOG Industry Award winners THE GROUNDSMAN 21


FOUR NEW FACES IOG Young Board chairman Anthony Facey welcomes four new members to the board


or the IOG Young Board, 2018 was a year of change. After years of voluntary work, chairman Will Graves stepped down. Right up until he hung up his fork, his efforts were commendable and I’m sure some of the processes he has implemented will continue to be used by the Board for years to come.

Later in the year we saw the departure of Martin Stephenson as one of our Young Board directors, due to his approaching 30th birthday. With his departure we have seen four new faces join: Sam Cain, Connor Collins, Scott Humphries and Brad Jeffries. You can find out about them below and we look forward to working with them in the future.

SAM CAIN, 23 CAIN MARKINGS, HERTFORDSHIRE How did you enter the industry? I realised a lot of open spaces in schools and public areas are neglected, so established a company to change this. I didn’t want a standard nine-to-five job. What kind of training have you undertaken? Pitch and court setting in, manual handling, first aid, ride-on mowing, hand power tools, Adobe design software. What training would you like to do in the future? I would like to improve my knowledge in turf science. What does your job entail? I run my own sports pitch and courts maintenance company, and my activities extend from working on site to generating new leads and creating designs for clients. What part of your job do you find the most rewarding? Developing solutions to help clients get the results they need. Where would you like to see yourself in five years’ time? Growing my company and expanding with new business ideas. Who do you most admire in the industry? My father, Neil Cain. He has worked his way up from being an apprentice with a shovel to an operations director. What do you most enjoy about your role on the Young Board? Inspiring the younger generation with different skill sets.

22 THE GROUNDSMAN March 2019

CONNOR COLLINS, 22 SWINDON TOWN FC Why did you enter the industry? It was always my dream to work in football. I was given a trial shift as part of the match-day staff at Southampton FC. I was hooked and I applied to be an apprentice groundsman at Swindon Town FC. What training have you done and would you like to do more? I am currently studying a Level 2 Sports Turf Operative course at Wiltshire College. I have also completed a first aid course. I plan to move on to Level 3 then Level 4 in Sports Turf Management. I also plan to do my PA1 and PA6 spraying courses. What does your job entail? I maintain the County Grounds pitch, which includes a variety of tasks – cutting, marking out and everything in between. What part of the job do you find most rewarding? Getting a game on when all the odds are against you. What’s been your greatest achievement so far? With my boss, Marcus Cassidy, being proud to have been finalists for an IOG Grounds Team of the Year Award. Who do you admire in the industry? Marcus is a great role model – he and my boss at Southampton, John Wright, have taught me a lot. What do you most enjoy about your role on the Young Board? I enjoy the prospect of educating young people about the industry and getting more people interested in it.





What kind of training have you undertaken so far? PA1, PA2 and PA6 spraying courses, and Level 2 and 3 Diplomas in work-based horticulture (sports turf – groundsman).

How did you enter the industry? I fell into the industry by going out of my way to gain experience and contacts. Aged 14, I assisted the groundsman at a local semiprofessional football club. When I was 16, I attended a game at Worcestershire CCC and met the head groundsman, Tim Packwood, and asked if I could help his team. He let me work a week during an Ashes warm-up game. When I went to university I needed a summer job, so I asked about work with at a nearby cricket club. Nothing was available but they put me in contact with Edgbaston’s head groundsman, Gary Barwell. I worked with Gary for two seasons and learned so much. I then decided I would pursue a career in the industry.

What training would you like to do in the future? A degree in sports turf, then keep progressing – every day you learn something new.

What kind of training have you undertaken so far? I am doing my Level 2 in Sports turf. I have also completed an ATV course and a Level 3 First Aid at Work course.

What does your job entail? Looking after the Oxford United FC training ground, which has nine pitches, with the plan to get four more full-size pitches. I make sure the pitches are in the best possible condition. I look after the grounds budget, checking machinery, liaising with coaches and keeping in contact with suppliers.

What training would you like to do in the future? PA 1,2 & 6 spraying qualifications and tractor driving.

What part of your job do you find most rewarding? After a difficult week with weather, making sure the training sessions continue and that the team achieves a victory at the weekend. I feel that if I can help make that 0.001 per cent difference, then that is great.

What part of the job do you find most rewarding? There is no better feeling than leaving the site on a Friday with all the pitches in excellent condition.

How did you enter the industry? I used to play football when I was younger, but after an injury I could no longer compete. When I was about 12 years old, I started helping the groundsman on match days at Oxford United FC, which I did for about four seasons. Aged 17, I was offered an apprenticeship at Brentford FC, and this is where I found my career path.

What has been your greatest achievement so far? Getting a head groundsman’s job at the age of 23. Although, I cannot rest on my laurels. I believe in the ‘do your best today but be even better tomorrow’ mantra! Where would you like to see yourself in five years’ time? Head groundsman at Oxford United FC – and by then they’ll be in the Premiership! Who do you most admire in the industry? Every groundsman and woman deserves credit. Whether it be a volunteer groundsman at a non-league club or full-time groundsman at a top venue, we should all help each other out. Ultimately, we all want to produce the best sports surfaces we possibly can with what we’ve got.

What does your job entail? I work at Whitgift’s second site. We look after football, rugby and cricket pitches, as well as other open spaces.

What’s been your greatest achievement so far? I am proud to say that I made a major contribution to the preparation of an England Test match pitch. Where would you like to see yourself in five years’ time? I would love to be a deputy or a senior groundsman within county cricket. Who do you most admire in the industry? Those who have supported me throughout my career, including: Tim Packwood, Gary Barwell, Dan Ratling (Whitgift School) and Karl Standley (Wembley Stadium), as well as Steven Dipple who was the groundsman who first got me into the industry. What do you enjoy most about being a Young Board member? Promoting the industry to young people and hopefully inspiring them to join.

IOG Young Board sponsor


Visit for regular updates on IOG Young Board activities. THE GROUNDSMAN 23


By Michal Koťan IOG Czech Branch chairman

CZECH MATES! More than 150 groundsmen attended this year’s IOG Czech Branch annual two-day conference in Prague


his year’s IOG Czech Branch conference included a wide range of technical and pitch care presentations, as well as visits to AC Sparta Prague, one of the largest and most successful clubs in the Czech Republic. Day one of the event presented the delegates with a wide range of topics: the IOG’s chief executive Geoff Webb discussed developments in the IOG’s training programmes and the Pitch Grading Framework; conference sponsor Barenbrug’s Ricardo Bleumer revealed the company’s latest grass seeds; Feyenoord Rotterdam’s field manager shared information about the care of the stadium pitch; Austrian agronomist Alexander Höfinger presented on the importance of documentation for groundsmen; and UK agronomist Philip Armitage talked about disease prevention. Scott Brooks, head groundsman at St George’s Park, presented the keynote afternoon speech on the care of playing surfaces. In addition, a number of companies (Czech-based as well as from overseas) presented products: from the UK, Dave Allett from Allett Mowers, Toby Clarke from Dennis-Sisis, Brian O’Shaughnessy from Campey Turf Care Systems; and from the Netherlands, Mark Wubben from SGL and Hessel Rozema from Redexim.


With those presentations complete, the IOG Czech Branch then made three significant presentations: Pitch of the Year - FK Mladá Boleslav

“Everyone agreed that they were looking forward to next year’s event” Groundsman of the Year – Dušan Romanovský, Sigma Olomouc (see panel) Life Achievement – Josef Vodehnal, founding member of the Branch and first IOG Czech Branch president. Day two started with a visit to AC Sparta Prague, one of the most well-known and strongest clubs in the Czech Republic. We first visited the main 20,000-capacity stadium in Letná – Generali Arena – accompanied by technical director Antonín K e, and en oyed presentations on playing surface maintenance and the use of heaters and lights, led by Jaroslav Vávra from maintenance contractor, Envos. We then travelled to the club’s training centre in Strahov – a site listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site – with six natural and two artificial grass pitches established 15 years ago. Also on-site is a new pitch with heating for the first team, and an inflatable ‘hall’ for winter youth training on an artificial pitch. We concluded with an exhibition of machines, provided by the Branch’s Czech partners. All in all, it was a very successful two days, and everyone agreed they were looking forward to next year’s event.

CZECH GROUNDSMAN OF THE YEAR – DUŠAN ROMANOVSKÝ, SK SIGMA OLOMOUC Dušan entered the industry in 1994, aged 18. The club where he played junior football (SK Sigma Olomouc) took him on as assistant groundsman, then a full-time role there saw him undertaking “a lot of training” before he became head groundsman 26 years ago, overseeing the fibresand hybrid turf pitch (laid in 2006 with three subsequent ‘reconstructions’). “I have prepared pitches for the Czech Republic’s Championship matches, for European Championship and World Cup preparatory matches, as well as European League and Championship games, plus two National Cup Finals,” Dušan says. MEMBERSHIP PERKS Having been a member of the Branch since it was established, he adds: “Membership has helped me tremendously; I know people I can contact at any time to solve any problem. I also very much appreciate the input of experts (like at our conference) from all over Europe. I’ve also visited a lot of top stadia and training centres, where I gained some interesting insights from them all.”

Dušan Romanovský from SK Sigma Olomouc THE GROUNDSMAN 25


FAR-FLUNG FRIENDS Helping out a new cricketing nation was a no-brainer for RT Machinery When any new sports ground is built, it’s important that the right maintenance equipment is on hand to keep it in the best condition possible, but that was tricky for one particular cricket pitch – no funds were available and they needed to have a mower shipped to Mongolia. However, RT Machinery stepped in... Built in 2016, the Mongolian Cricket Association’s ground – the only real grass cricket pitch in Mongolia – brings together young people from 10 different schools around Ulaanbataar, helping to bridge social divides and create a community where sport is the common denominator.

The MCA brings together children from 10 schools

Battulga Gombo, or Tulga as he is better known, is the association’s head. He says: “Firstly was the fundraising for the pitch itself, then the nets and concrete, then the containers and the pavilion. The last item on the list of big expenses was a mower.” Richard Taylor, managing director of RT Machinery, says: “I was very touched by the work the MCA does and in particular how they raised the $50,000 to build that first pitch. It just felt like the right thing to do, to ship them one of our Junior Tow n Mow gang mowers.” Investing in a mower was a priority for the MCA, but would have taken months of saving and fundraising. “As a small

non-governmental organisation (NGO), the mower is a large piece of capital equipment, and we expected that we would not be able to save up enough to buy one for at least a year,” says Tulga. “To receive it as a gift from so far away, demonstrates a kind, generous and outward-looking attitude. “Now all efforts, both fundraising and energy, can go towards coaching and building participation. We have a long way to go, so if you would like to get involved, please contact us on the ‘Cricket Mongolia’ Facebook page.“


For more RT information visit

FOOD FOR THOUGHT Brighton Racecourse’s head groundsman Richard Langley says that his feeding regime keeps the track in top condition

Head groundsman Richard Langley

Dealing with the challenges of heavy use, combined with the vagaries of the British climate, is the norm for many groundskeepers, but at Brighton Racecourse – which sits at the edge of the South Downs, 400ft above sea level – these issues are exacerbated. Richard Langley,

head groundsman, believes that his programme of year-round feeding using Rigby Taylor products helps keep the turf healthy. He says: “I will feed once a month from October through to February, alternating between the various Microflow-CXS slow-release fertilisers – which contain chelated trace elements including copper, iron, magnesium, manganese and zinc. Plus I use microstimulants such as Amino-Form LX, an amino acid-based supplement that improves stress resistance and enhances recovery from drought, heat, cold and wear. “Then, in March, I’ll increase the levels of nitrogen, to give the track a boost, and feed every three weeks for the remaining months. I’ve found that

liquid feeding is the most cost-effective way to use fertilisers and lots of other treatments; it is more accurate and targets the plant more effectively, meaning that, for example, it reduces the amount of strimming needed under the rails because we are not ‘throwing’ products on haphazardly. As well as keeping up the performance of the track, Richard is conscious that he is responsible for looking after the sensitive environment around the racecourse. He says: “We continually try to improve our environmental performance, and part of this is to use suppliers and products that fit within this strategy.”


For more information visit THE GROUNDSMAN 27



How soon will it be before sustainable, re-useable synthetic turf becomes the everyday? This, the first of a two-part series, describes the growth of artificial and hybrid playing surfaces, and the end-of-life problems they present

A By Greg Rhodes Feature writer

rtificial turf was first produced in 1966 in Houston, Texas, but arguably only gained global acceptance, in football at least, with the advent of thirdgeneration (3G) systems at the end of the 1990s and early 2000s. Three in four FIFA-registered football installations are laid in Europe, where many of the turf carpet manufacturers and installers are also based. More than 200 ‘fields’ a year are being built in the UK, including training and junior areas, estimates Alastair Cox, of Alastair Cox Associates, an independent consultancy specialising in sports surfaces and facilities. He is also facilities manager for the International Hockey Federation as well as technical consultant to the European Synthetic Turf Council. “With local authority budgets stretched, the maintenance needed to keep natural turf in good condition is an issue,” he says. “The Rugby Football Union and the Football Association (FA) certainly view synthetics as the solution for community needs, particularly to take the intensity of play in winter. And local authorities have developed a

“With local authority budgets stretched, the maintenance needed to keep natural turf in good condition is an issue”

strategic plan with the FA, Sport England and the Premier League to fund facilities. Synthetic pitches deliver a valuable revenue stream for venues, while funding and long-term lease options are available for clubs meeting current criteria, one of which is to provide evidence that income projections can cover provision for a replacement system when the time comes.


In the UK, as elsewhere, concerns centre around disposal and re-use of the first-, second-, and older third-generation synthetic turf pitches as these are now being replaced with 3G and advanced sand-filled systems. “These non-filled and sand-filled surfaces failed to mimic natural grass playing characteristics,” Alastair says. Although early adopters such as Luton Town FC and Queens Park Rangers laid pitches, “football didn’t take to them so they did not evolve”. He adds: “Hockey, however, did embrace the technology and surfaces for this sport developed accordingly. Only with the introduction of 3G, long-pile, surfaces, including rubber crumb infill, did surfaces perform like natural grass and have proliferated as a result.” The Netherlands, Belgium, Eastern Europe, Switzerland and Scandinavia, in particular, have realised the predicament they face in regulating the disposal of synthetic turf and of finding new markets for the materials. Trade bodies such THE GROUNDSMAN 29



into a re-usable sports surface, Alastair adds (although a process for doing so is reportedly under research), but it can be reprocessed into less specialised, lowergrade products such as decking, garden furniture and gutters. “It could be doable,” he adds, “and we would then reach a cradle to cradle approach.” Market inertia tempts owners and operators to adopt cheaper disposal alternatives, he argues. “Old carpet finds its way into golf clubs and agriculture for pathways, cattle walkways and horse mangers, but golf is a maturing market now. It’s a question of incentivising owners to avoid landfill.”

TAKING RESPONSIBILITY Recycling hybrid and synthetic pitches is a complex problem

“The growth of hybrid playing surfaces further complicates the recycling picture and presents as great a problem” as the European Synthetic Turf Council, which represents carpet and components manufacturers, is actively seeking ways to recycle and re-use end-of-life systems. Third-generation turf systems generally share common components: Polyethylene (PE) turf pile, polypropylene (PP) primary backing to provide structure and spacing that the pile is woven into, and secondary backing of a liquid polyurethane (PU) or latex applied to bind the pile to the backing Stabilising infill to keep the fibres vertical Performance infill to provide the correct level of impact resistance to reduce injuries and help reproduce the playability of natural grass. Polyethylene is the polymer of choice for synthetic turf today, while polypropylene is usually the preferred fibre for price-driven

REFERENCES European Synthetic Turf Council, The Global Market for Artificial Grass, AMI Consulting, Alastair Cox Associates,

30 THE GROUNDSMAN March 2019

domestic and landscaping applications. An average artificial turf pitch of 106m x 71m infilled with styrene-butadiene rubber (SBR) granules, the most common type, and sand infill, weighs typically 36kg/m2, giving a total pitch weight of around 274 tonnes. Half of that is sand stabilising infill and 44 per cent SBR (around 120 tonnes). The remaining six per cent is the plasticbased turf itself.


Although the Premier League “will probably never go fully synthetic”, Alastair maintains, areas of high concentration and wear are being considered for hybrid grass systems across community football. “Sport England is undertaking pilot studies on reinforced penalty boxes, which makes sense, and hybrid technology has a role to play. “But the growth of hybrid playing surfaces further complicates the recycling picture and presents as great as or a greater problem because of the need to separate elements such as rootzone from the plastic fibre reinforcement. “The hybrid sector is behind the pure synthetic turf industry in terms of how to recycle materials,” he says. “With an eight- to 10-year typical replacement cycle, the volume of hybrid turf is small at the moment, but will appear on the radar before too long.” Carpet yarn is difficult to reformulate

Every two years since 2005, international plastics consultancy AMI Consulting has issued its market intelligence report, The Global Market for Artificial Grass, which overviews sector size, structure and growth. Recent editions have included estimates for the volume of sports turf expected to be recycled. “Synthetic sports surfaces have enjoyed exceptionally strong growth in recent years,” confirms AMI senior project consultant Sylvia Tabero, who researches and assembles the report, next due to appear in March 2020. “Although the rate of new field penetration has slowed in Europe, the market is still growing well.” She continues: “Artificial 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. As much as 30 per cent of some manufacturers’ sports turf output could be taken up with replacing their own or others’ synthetic turf installations.” Further on, legislation may be the stick to force major change to the status quo but, as Alastair notes, “recycling needs a market. Sand and rubber infill probably can be cleaned and re-used, but carpet is a complex case with at least three different plastics included in synthetic turf systems.” He concludes: “Manufacturers have no contractual link to operators and we need to ask what will happen to pitches when they are replaced, who has a legal responsibility for their proper disposal and if an adequate budget has been set aside for sustainable recycling.”


Next month: we look closer at the current, and likely, options for recycling and re-use of artificial and hybrid playing surfaces


A BREATH OF FRESHÂ AIR Charterhouse Turf Machinery supplies a range of aeration equipment to keep turf healthy Ideal soil conditions should comprise of 45 per cent mineral, 25 per cent water, 25 per cent air and five per cent organic matter. Any imbalance in any one of these components can result in the soil becoming inert, restricting growth or even killing the grass plant. For strong, healthy root formation and a free-draining soil, maintaining a network of pores and fissures in the topsoil is essential. Charterhouse Turf Machinery (CTM) supplies a broad range of aeration equipment to assist grounds managers in the fight against compaction and drainage. While the well-known Verti-Drain continues to impress, and other products

32 THE GROUNDSMAN November 2018

such as the Verti-Quake linear aerator and Level Spike slitter provide alternative techniques, Charterhouse recently launched two new products to complement their aeration range. The OxyShot is an air-driven probe which penetrates up to 50cm into the soil before blowing a shot of air at up to 110psi to alleviate compaction, deliver air into the soil profile and create drainage channels. The OxyShot can be used across a host of facilities from golf and winter sports surfaces, to arboricultural operations where aeration can assist tree roots which are growing in compacted, air-starved soils. Also new to the line-up is the Mole Plough, with interchangeable legs to allow for drainage,

The new OxyShot aeration unit

pipe laying or de-compaction. This simple yet effective tool creates minimal surface disruption thanks to its cutting disc and roller, allowing play to resume quickly. The Mole Plough can operate at speeds of up to 12mph, so large areas can be treated quickly.


For more information visit


CLEARING WITH A CONSCIENCE Natural vegetation removal may seem straightforward, but you must first understand the rules and regulations

Before dredging water, you must consider wildlife activity

A By Rowan Rumball STRI ecology consultant

re you planning hedgerow or pond dredging works this year? Did you know you may require a great crested newt survey and a breeding bird survey? Did you know that under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, it an offence to intentionally or recklessly damage any wild birds’ nests or eggs? Do you have trees that you would like to remove? Then you are required by European law to undertake a bat assessment before you can proceed. You will need to determine what surveys are required, and when they can be conducted, before any works are able to progress. Surveys are timed according to the location of your site, the species being surveyed and seasonal variation. In Britain, all 18 bat species and their roosts are legally protected by domestic and international legislation. It is an offence to capture, injure or kill a bat or disturb a bat in its roost. It is also an offence to damage, destroy or obstruct access to a bat roost. If bats are reasonably likely to be

“You will need to determine what surveys are required, and when they can be conducted, before any works are able to progress” 34 THE GROUNDSMAN March 2019

present in a structure that will be affected by disturbance, such as a maintenance shed or a tree to be removed, then bat surveys are required. These will determine bat presence or absence, identify the species and determine how and when they are using the affected areas. If there is evidence of bat use, or a potential to support roosting bats is identified, then further surveys are required to identify bat species and the type of roost.


It is an offence to kill or injure any wild bird, damage or destroy nests (both in use and while being built), or to take or destroy eggs. Bird surveys are generally required when a development is proposed close to a designated nature conservation site, or for a large area of optimal bird habitat, such as close to the coast or a wetland area. The survey results can be used to inform an appropriate mitigation plan to prevent the development having detrimental effects on the bird populations utilising the site. If the removal of trees or shrubs is required during the bird breeding



It is an o�ence to damage or obstruct access to a bat roost

“If the removal of trees or shrubs is required during the bird breeding season (March to August), a breeding bird survey is required” season (March to August), a breeding bird survey will be required to ensure that no birds are currently nesting at that time. This generally should be carried out within two days prior to the removal of any trees or shrubs.


Badgers and their setts are protected by law under the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, making it an offence to wilfully kill, injure or take a badger, dig for a badger, damage or destroy a badger sett, or obstruct access to it or disturb a badger when it is occupying a sett. A survey to determine the presence or likely absence of badgers should be undertaken, where badgers or their setts may be affected by any development.



Great crested newts are a protected species. The newts themselves, their eggs, breeding sites and resting places are protected by law. So, if you have pond that requires desilting or remodelling, a great crested newt survey will be required to determine their presence or likely absence. If newts are discovered, a general site licence can be obtained for many cases of standard pond management works, but a plan needs to be in place for the work to minimise the risk of killing, injuring or disturbing newts. Works must be timed for late autumn through to winter, when great crested newts are least likely to be present in ponds. Modern techniques such as eDNA allow for quick and easy assessment of the presence of great crested newts. Water samples are taken which will provide







a simple yes or no answer that can inform further decision making much more quickly and cheaply than a standard great crested newt survey. STRI’s ecology and environment team can help you determine what surveys you are obliged to undertake if you are unsure. The team is highly experienced and licensed to conduct all species surveys and can also apply for the development licences necessary for works to proceed lawfully. Call STRI on 01274 565131 or email the team at







Bird – breeding Bird – wintering Bat – roost Bat – activity Bat – hibernation Bat – build/tree assessment Badger Badger – bait marking Otter Water vole Reptiles Great crested newt Natterjack toad Vegetation/botanical The table above is a guideline for survey optimal timing. Location and seasonal variation may impact these timing recommendations.

Survey recommended

Sub-optimal survey period THE GROUNDSMAN 35


STRIP IT OUT AND START AGAIN A radical approach to renovation keeps York Racecourse on top form Since joining the team at York Racecourse in 2006, head groundsman Adrian Kay has helped deliver a £2.6 million track development project and his approach to maintaining the track could be seen as radical. The track’s position on an old river bed means that drainage is an ongoing concern, which was addressed as part of the redevelopment project, but Head groundsman Adrian Kay

The track’s grass is testament to the quality of the seed

it’s something Adrian and his team have to work constantly to manage. He uses the Koro process to strip the surface and remove all vegetation and rootzone, so he says he needs a grass seed that will guarantee the track can be up and running again quickly. “We normally begin our renovations in October after the race season, which is sometimes not ideal, but we have full confidence that the Limagrain mixture will germinate,” says Adrian. “Last year, renovations were late with the seed being sown in early November. Unfortunately for us, we then had an extreme winter followed by a wet start to the spring. However, the track couldn’t have looked better with a very good coverage of new grass ready for the first meeting on 16 May – this is testament to the quality of the seed. “The mixture we use contains 50 per

cent tetraploid perennial rye, 30 per cent diploid and 20 per cent slender creeping red fescue and it’s treated with Headstart Gold. It’s a perfect mixture for what we are trying to achieve.” Limagrain’s Headstart Gold is a seaweed-based treatment that helps to ensure rapid and even germination. “I use Limagrain because of the attributes of germination, establishment and the quality of leaf. If I put the seed down two weeks before we are racing, I absolutely know that in ideal conditions we are going to get the germination and establishment that is required. “For me, it’s a year-round product. We use the same mix for repairs on the track as well, which we apply after every race meeting. It really is the full package.”


For more information visit

The team with the new mower at Elvaston Castle

FIT FOR A CASTLE The task of mowing lawns in the grand gardens of Elvaston Castle has fallen to a Ransomes machine The experienced grounds team at Elvaston Castle Country Park thought long and hard before investing in a new mower, finally opting for a Ransomes Highway 3. “After trialling a few different machines, myself and the team decided to opt for the Ransomes Highway 3,” says Anna Morrison, landscape chargehand at the Grade II listed site, managed by Derbyshire County Council. “It’s a good size, it’s versatile and can get into those tight spaces.” “We use the machine to maintain the formal lawns around the castle,

and it’s great because it can deal with different heights of cut very well which means it copes well in a variety of conditions, especially when it’s wet. “I have been here for seven years, and we have a very experienced team of gardeners; Paul Dimmock has been here for 29 years and Geoff Doncaster has been here for 43 years! This level of experience is priceless, so I listened carefully to the feedback from the team when choosing which machine to purchase. We all thought the Highway 3 was the best for the job, so I felt very confident when it was time

to place the order. “The back-up support from our dealer Sharrocks has been brilliant. One of the most important aspects of buying new machinery is the service you receive from your local dealer. We couldn’t be happier with every aspect of the process, from the demonstration to the installation and training.”


For more information visit THE GROUNDSMAN 37

Product showcase


IOG NEWS UPDATES Go to the IOG website

UTVS/ ATVS AND PEDESTRIAN MOWERS The new units have a tight turning circle




John Deere expands Gator range

OFFERING THE COMPANY’S quietest ever cab, more room for both driver and passengers and an extremely efficient heating system, John Deere’s new fullsize Gator utility vehicles are designed to maximise year-round productivity and comfort. The brand new 54hp petrol XUV 835M and 23hp diesel XUV 865M models offer power steering, a CVT transmission and a top speed of 37 or 31mph (60 or 50kph) respectively, plus


a large 42-litre fuel tank, tight turning circle and optimal weight distribution for superior off-road performance. For extra versatility, they can be fitted with a choice of over 90 attachments from snow blades to winches. The spacious, pressurised cab can accommodate three people, for off-road use only. This new cab incorporates noise isolation and sound dampening components, making it the quietest yet available in the Gator range. It also offers year-round weather protection and the heating system includes a windscreen defrost feature. Both these newly styled Gators feature ample legroom and a tiltable steering wheel to help reduce driver fatigue during long working days. The versatile, durable cargo box has a load capacity of 454kg, while towing capacity has been increased by a third to 907kg and total payload capacity is 680kg.

Institute of Groundsmanship

HIGH GROUND CLEARANCE, modern styling and a wider-thannormal internal width suitable for seating three people comfortably are just some of the main features of the Kioti Mechron K9 2400. The Kioti three-cylinder, 24hp engine economically and quietly powers the unit with minimum vibration. The unit is approved for the road and the operator has a separate suspension seat to ensure that he or she is comfortable even after long working and driving hours. The rear load space has a urethane spray coating for longevity, neatly located tie-down points and a large capacity. The payload is rated up to 500kg. Manual tip is standard and an optional hydraulic tip is available. Double wishbone front suspension gives tight turning and a smooth ride whatever the terrain. The Kioti Mechron is available in red or green, and can be ordered as open ROPS, canopy and screen (with or without half-doors) or with a full cabin.

The unit is designed with comfort in mind THE GROUNDSMAN 39


U T V S / AT V S


TRAILER BLAZING capabilities define ATVs and UTVs and, to make the most of these benefits, an equally capable trailer is required. SCH manufactures trailers specifically designed to be towed in all terrains. They feature wide profile flotation wheels which are perfectly suited for boggy or rough ground. The wheels are mounted on ball bearing hubs, which give the trailers a long lifespan and great stability. An often overlooked feature of these wheels is that they help to reduce track marks on grass, which is crucial for many groundsmen. The wide wheels and ball bearing hubs allow the trailers to be towed significantly faster than

many trailers without them, as the trailers remain stable with a reduced chance of tipping, and the wheels and chassis can take more offroad punishment than many alternatives. The trailers are manufactured in Britain and can be fitted with either a ball hitch or a clevis hitch. There is a wide variety of trailers available, from timber haulers and animal transporters to tipping trailers and general purpose green waste trailers. For a free brochure featuring over 200 British built machines, contact SCH on 01473 328272, email, or visit the website to find out more.

Wide wheels and ball bearing hubs add stability

40 THE GROUNDSMAN March 2019



Buyers can choose from a 12- or 14-bladed cylinder



FOX CYLINDER MOWERS are built by Andrew Fox, who has put his passion for cricket and grounds keeping into creating class-leading mowers. Each machine is hand-signed/numbered and built by Andrew in Somerset. He has been a volunteer groundsman for 30 years, so knows the importance of attention to detail and bringing a professional finish to every pitch without blowing the budget. The Black edition (priced at £2,950 including VAT and UK delivery) is aimed at the regular user. It is driven by a Honda GX200 series commercial engine, the biggest engine fitted to a 20in mower. Buyers choose either a 12- or 14-blade cylinder, complemented with a Japanese hardened tungsten-tipped bottom blade. It features simple height

adjustment with a height indicator giving pin-point accuracy when returning to a preset height. The weighted front roller is sprayed and baked with a non-stick outer coating. The Green edition (£1,890 including VAT and UK delivery), aimed at grassroots grounds

keepers, carries the features of the Black edition including the choice of a 12- or 14-blade cylinder. Buyers have a choice of two bottom blades depending on desired height of cut and it’s powered by a modern Briggs & Stratton engine. THE GROUNDSMAN 41




Small and perfectly formed

The team like the unit’s versatility



WHEN THE OWNERS of Wolverhampton Wanderers FC decided to upgrade the pitch at Molineux Stadium – to a Desso Grassmaster hybrid surface – the grounds team also had the opportunity to upgrade their kit. Deputy head groundsman Anthony Parker didn’t hesitate to choose Dennis machines, having had success with them in his previous roles at private schools. The lightweight unit (166kg) is designed to be as user-friendly as possible, with controls for the throttle, parking brake, roller drive and cutting cylinder all housed in the handlebar. A system of interchangeable cassettes means grounds keepers can also use the G860 as a scarifier, verticutter, brush, spiker and slitter. “We purchased three G860s with the full range of cassettes which gives us so much versatility,” says Anthony. “With three mowers we now double cut on match days and the G860s are perfect for presentation and getting a quality finish every time. “Dennis mowers are simply renowned for being a quality piece of kit and the equipment speaks for itself,” says Anthony. “They are really user-friendly and since we’ve had them all of the team have been really impressed.”

42 THE GROUNDSMAN March 2019

tool specialist, EGO, has added two new smaller units to its existing range of pedestrian mowers, offering more options for grounds keepers who work on tight areas of turf. The new units, a 42cm cutting width (LM1700E) and a self-propelled 47cm cutting width (LM1900-SP) reflect the most popular sizes in the UK so should meet the needs of more customers. The EGO Power+ 47cm self-propelled mower retails at £599, while the smallest model in the range, the EGO Power+ 42cm mower, is priced at £399. The LM1700E has a run-time of 20 minutes on a single charge of its 2.5Ah battery, cutting up to 400m2. The slightly larger LM1900-SP will cut up to 600m2 on a single charge of its 5.0Ah battery, which lasts up to 35 minutes on a single charge. Like EGO’s other tools, the new mowers use the brand’s 56-volt Arc Lithium-ion battery, which means no petrol fumes, quieter operation and no cord to worry about. The new mowers join the existing range, which now features mowers with cutting capacities from 42cm up to 52cm. EGO’s easy-fold design makes

cleaning and storage simple, while the mower’s three-in-one functionality lets the operator bag, side discharge or mulch clippings while the LED headlights allow work to continue further into the day. EGO’s battery technology is at the heart of the success of the range. With patented keep-cool technology, each battery cell is kept cool for extended life, while the Power Management System Protects the battery. Each battery is compatible with all EGO Power Plus garden tools.

The 47cm unit lasts up to 35 minutes on one charge



The Rasion Easy weighs less than 30kg




THE PERFECT COMBINATION FOLLOWING THE SUCCESSFUL launch of the Pellenc Rasion Basic and Smart models, the company has announced the latest pedestrian rotary mower in the range – the Pellenc Rasion Easy. The Rasion Easy is a combination of the previous two models, as Etesia UK managing director Les Malin explains: “We found that the manual operation of the Rasion Basic has been more appropriate to commercial operators yet they also liked the self-propelled element of the Rasion Smart. For this reason, Pellenc has launched the Rasion Easy – a combination from both of the previous models.” The Rasion Easy has an IP54 water

“The Rasion Easy is a combination of the previous models, the Rasion Basic and the selfpropelled Rasion Smart” KEEP IN TOUCH

rating and features a grass density detector – a patented feature exclusive to Pellenc which allows the mower to detect the height and density of the grass, and change the engine speed accordingly. This saves power as operators do not have to run the machine under full load unnecessarily. A cutting width of 60cm with height of cut between 25 and 75mm, 70-litre grass box capacity and two front swivel wheels ensure the Rasion Easy is ultra-manoeuvrable. With a weight of less than 30kg and folding handlebars, transportation between sites is effortless. All Pellenc batteries and tools come complete with a three-year commercial warranty as standard – the first manufacturer to offer this on battery-powered tools. Pellenc is exclusively distributed in the UK and Ireland by Etesia UK. Find out more by calling 01295 680120.

Institute of Groundsmanship

FOLLOWING ON FROM the success of the Infinicut floating head mower, Cub Cadet has launched the Infinicut FX – a fixed head model that includes many tried-and-tested features in a simpler, more affordable package. The Infinicut FX is battery powered so is light and quiet. Like the Infinicut FL, it can be used with the ATT TMSystem of interchangeable cassettes, offering the option to switch from mowing to aeration, brushing, de-thatching, scarifying, top-dressing, grooming and levelling as well as mowing. The cassettes are bottom mounted and bolted in place, making the unit more stable in use. It’s available in 22in, 26in, 30in and 34in cutting widths. Sales manager Vinny Tarbox said: “Much of the design of the new Infinicut FX has been motivated by the requirements of our industry professionals, to provide them with the mechanical maintenance tools and techniques that can assist in the creation of a strong, healthy plant. With the continued non-renewal of plant protection products around Europe, this has never been more important. The new Fixed HeadTM package will help a broader market base to benefit from the numerous advantages of Cub Cadet’s unique cutting-edge mowing technology.” THE GROUNDSMAN 43




EARNING ITS STRIPES TORO HAS LAUNCHED the new ProStripe 560 mower, designed to give a clean, professional striped finish from a simple mower. The compact, lightweight design makes it easy to use in tight areas. Its user-friendly features include Toro’s MatchCut technology, which allows the operator to adjust the cutting height quickly and easily; front fins which lift the grass, optimising airflow for efficient collection of clippings while directing dust away from the operator; and the ergonomic reinforced handlebar. The ProStripe 560 gives a pristine

“We understand how important it is for sports venues to have that attractive striped finish”

44 THE GROUNDSMAN March 2019

finish, with a two-piece ribbed roller that creates crisp stripes without damaging the turf. Its three-speed transmission enables it to adapt to different conditions and allows users to work at up to 5kph (3.1mph), making it the fastest mower in its class. “We understand how important it is for high-end sports venues to have that attractive striped finish, not only for the fans in the stands but also for the TV audience,” says Anthony Nadalin, senior marketing manager, Toro Europe. “The ProStripe 560 provides both quality of cut and a clean striped finish in one step.”

The light and compact ProStripe 560 is perfect for use in tight areas

Chris Cooper, product manager at Toro, adds: “The collection capabilities of the ProStripe 560 make post-game clean-up a breeze, with no divots left on the pitch. It’s a low-maintenance solution that’s easy to use with no additional operator training needed.”



e o�ers users s eed ranges rom m u to m



JOHN DEERE’S LATEST walkbehind rotary mowers are versatile and simple to operate. The C52KS commercial and updated R54RVB models are powered by Subaru and Yamaha petrol engines respectively, for high performance and reliability in tough conditions as well as easy starting. The 52cm (20in) C52KS features variable-speed drive, enabling the operator to cut or even mulch at the optimum speed – a mulching kit is optional. With a choice of speed ranges from 1.8mph to 3mph, the C52KS easily adapts to all grass conditions on areas up to 5,000m2. The durable transmission provides smooth engagement, while the ergonomically designed soft-touch handlebar results in lower vibrations,

to reduce pressure-related hand fatigue. The foldable handlebar also makes transport and storage very easy for the user. Suitable for mowing areas up to 2,500m2, the variable-speed R54RVB has a robust deck with a cutting width of 54cm (21in) and a steel rear roller for a striped finish, a blade brake safety clutch and a TurboStar fan-

assisted mowing system to ensure a precision cut and efficient grass collection. In addition, the upgraded driveline increases the mower’s ease of use and durability. New sealing and drive components have also undergone rigorous testing to ensure enhanced reliability. THE GROUNDSMAN 45



For more tips see our Best Practice feature page 18


Re-commission the irrigation system, if present. Spring fertiliser will typically be applied this month, with about 10 x 25kg required. Mow regularly to encourage tillering and sward thickening. Line marking should not be neglected just because renovation is imminent after the final games.


Cut regularly to encourage growth and sward thickening. Apply a spring/summer fertiliser if conditions are suitable. Ensure surface is flat before drying out too much. Constant dragbrushing will stand the grass up and leave you with a bright finish. Overseeding may be required if temperatures dictate. Try to overseed by entering the surface to give the seed a higher chance of germination. Aerate if possible to aid air circulation and root growth. Bright lines will give the surface a great presentation.


Be flexible in your planning for April because the weather can be extremely variable. Don’t be inclined to reduce the height of cut too quickly in case of a cold or wet spell.

46 THE GROUNDSMAN March 2019

Green renovation will be the main priority this month. Consider renovating fairway ‘winter greens’ at the same time, or soon afterwards. Winter tee renovation should take place as soon as the players have switched onto the summer tees. Ensure the irrigation system is fully commissioned. Vertidrain fairways. Complete topping up the bunkers. Any major competitions will need a period of time for bunkers to settle down, so bear this in mind.


Mow the course twice a week. Strim around the base of all posts. Re-commission irrigation system. Aerate the course as part of routine maintenance. Apply the main spring fertiliser. This is the time to complete the main renovation of a National Hunt course, which will then be allowed to rest over the summer – assuming it does not form part of a course for flat racing.


Mowing frequency will be increasing, while at the same time the height of cut will be gradually lowered from the winter topping height to that required for the start of the playing season. Rolling will be routine and carried out regularly to help firm up the court ready for play commencing.

Re-commission the irrigation system ready for early dry spells. Apply a suitable spring fertiliser. Most analyses will contain nitrogen as 8 to 15 per cent, but the exact analysis will depend on individual requirements. One 25kg bag per court should be ample, depending on how much of the surrounds are also fertilised. If there are any thin areas present on the court, these should be oversown using an appropriate grass seed mixture.


Additional games will probably be required to catch up on postponed and cup matches. Don’t worry too much about excessive destruction of the surface vegetation as the season is nearly at an end. A smooth surface that is well marked out should be aimed for, so divoting will be a main feature this month to see out the season. Increasing the mowing frequency will also help to give a neat finish. Letting clippings fly and spreading them evenly may make some bare areas look a little more pleasing. Vertidraining can be planned for straight after the last game.


Be quite flexible in your planning for April as the weather can be extremely variable. Complete the renovation of the greens, making sure two weeks separates the end of renovation and the first bowl being played. This should ensure adequate time for any topdressing to be satisfactorily worked in. Open the season on as high a cut as possible, say 1 4 inch. This will

give the grass some insurance against cold weather returning. Several light rollings, with a 5cwt roller, will help to firm the surface prior to the start of the season. Ensure the irrigation system is fully commissioned. Top-up ditch material.


Continue to increase the frequency of mowing. Scarification will be increased to remove all surface debris within the base of the sward. Rolling should be continued to provide a solid base for the season. Additional rolling will be carried out for pitch preparation; however, the fundamental groundwork for the season is carried out prior to the first ball being delivered. Ensure the square is properly ‘squared up’ with the correct number of wickets being spot marked at the ends. Ensure each wicket is correctly squared.


Measure out stripes for mowing, making sure to measure accurately to create the chequer board presentation. Mow outfield as growth demands. Slowly reduce the height of cut to approximately 15mm throughout this month. Monitor the outfield for weeds, and make plans to apply selective herbicide when growth is strong and conditions allow. This would usually be towards May. Only certified operatives should apply chemicals. Repair/redress any minor areas of damage especially in and around bowlers’ run-ups.





0203 859 7097



o ad ertise in t e c assi ed section of The Groundsman please contact: Lee Morris T: 0203 859 7097 E: lee.morris@



0203 859 7097 THE GROUNDSMAN 49


Karen is an integral member of the sixstrong grounds team

THE GOING’S GOOD FOR KAREN Former firefighter Karen Best reveals more about her role at Salisbury Racecourse


When I left school, I worked with horses at various places. I was also involved in horse racing and carriage driving – I was the one hanging out the back balancing it, not the driver! I also attended agricultural college to study beef and dairy cattle for a year as day relief. When I was 40, I joined Wiltshire fire brigade and was a retained firefighter for 15 years. However, my work experience at Salisbury Racecourse started about 26 years ago – working in the bars on race days.


To earn some extra money, I worked for the grounds team through the racing season while I was still a firefighter. Glen Mason, the head groundsman, asked me if I was interested in a full-time job if a position came up and I said yes. This was about two-and-ahalf years ago and I’ve never looked back. I did go on sabbatical for six months just to make sure I was making the right decision, but I absolutely love my job. 50 THE GROUNDSMAN March 2019


There are six grounds people at the racecourse. We work hard but there is always a lot of laughter and banter. Before the racing starts in April, jobs vary depending on the weather and other scheduled events. Right now, we’re busy hedge-cutting, washing down stands and doing outside paint jobs. We also do inside maintenance – such as cleaning and maintaining outdoor furniture, which has been stored during the winter months. We’re also rebuilding the loading ramp and replacing an old concrete chain-link fence in our Sarum enclosure. Once the grass begins to grow, it’s all hands on deck with mowing, strimming, edging, weeding, watering and preparing stables. One of my jobs on race day is to do all the fire checks. I don’t really have a favourite job, as long as the sun is out I’m happy, but I suppose I feel at home in the stable yard. Although, the best feeling ever is just before the gates open on a race day when the lawns are striped, edges are done and the course is mowed. But there’s no time to relax as you never know what the day will bring.

By Karen Maxwell Managing editor

“The best feeling ever is just before the gates open on race day” WHAT TRAINING HAVE YOU UNDERTAKEN?

I have just completed an IOG Level 2 Racecourse training course at Newmarket, and I’m waiting to put what I learned into practice. Other courses include the safe use of strimming equipment, hand and ride-on mowers, forklift training and I’ve completed my First Aid certificate. I hope to do more training in due course.

WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE YOURSELF IN FIVE YEARS’ TIME? This is where I will stay until I retire, and even then I think they will have to give me a shove! I would happily work part-time at the racecourse after retirement if I could.

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