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Groundsmen bowled over by seminar

Fifty groundsmen from independent schools throughout southern England and the Midlands were presented with a wealth of useful advice and information at the latest ICL seminar, which was held at Edgbaston Stadium – home to Warwickshire CCC and the Birmingham Bears.

Aimed specifically at turf professionals working in the independent schools sector, the popular ICL Independent School Seminar is now in its fifth year.

Emma Kilby, ICL Area Sales Manager for the Midlands and West, who organised and ran the event welcomed delegates to the event with an outline of what they could expect from the day before handing over to Edgbaston Stadium Head Groundsman Gary Barwell to give an overview of the facilities which includes a total of 24 pitches – 17 of them being first class before giving delegates an insight into pitch preparation and their trials of an SIS hybrid pitch.

Henry Bechelet, ICL’s Technical Sales Manager was next, giving an informative and entertaining presentation on ‘Root Development Technologies’. Areas discussed included what affects turf rooting, the relationship between rooting and nitrogen and what products can help turf managers improve rooting before also speaking about the company's commissioning of independent STRI trials where he revealed that the results conclusively showed that the use of Sierraform GT consistently increases root development.

Daniel Lightfoot, Syngenta’s Business Manager, was next to the stage to give an illustrated talk and demonstration of the company’s Greencast turf app and a fungicide update including the new regulations.

This was followed by Robert Jack from Dennis and SISIS who gave a presentation on the range of British manufactured turf maintenance machinery the company has to offer. Robert also discussed the recent STRI trials of the SISIS Javelin Aer-Aid, where it proved to be a very effective tool in helping to manage the soil profile, creating better rooting, allowing water and air movement through the profile, keeping disease at bay and helping to reduce compaction.

Concluding the session, Daniel Lightfoot returned to give delegates a greater insight into Instrata Elite fungicide. Daniel explained that when Instrata Elite is applied, it quickly spreads and locks onto the wax layer of the plant surface which provides a protective barrier to the leaf and destroys any disease spores which are present at the time of application.

After the presentations, delegates were given a tour of the stadium by Gary Barwell. As well as getting a close look at the cricket wicket which would be played on later that evening, they were also shown some of the turf maintenance machinery which Gary and his team use on a daily basis.

Emma Kilby, who organised the event, believes that the day's varied content had been what delegates were looking for and was delighted that the event had been so well supported.

"Today has been a fantastic event and it was good to get so many groundsmen attending," she said. "These are professional groundsmen that produce surfaces for so many different sports. They come along to the event to learn and to network. It’s not just for the head groundsmen – it’s for all their staff who got an insight into the integrated turf management and agronomic support available.”

Mike Kemmett, Grounds Manager at Harrow School, said the seminar had proved extremely worthwhile and a great opportunity to network with other groundsmen from schools: “I’ve been for the last three events, and actually hosted last year’s event when I was at Haberdashers. It’s a great event to network and meet other people. I particularly found Daniel Lightfoot’s presentation on fungicides interesting as I now have a golf course to manage.”

James Pope, Grounds Manager at St Paul’s School in London commented: “I brought my assistant groundsman Tom Martin with me today. Today’s event was great to speak to other colleagues that I wouldn’t normally get the chance to speak to throughout the year and compare notes with. It was good to find out how Gary (Barwell) prepares his wicket. There are definitely a few notes that we’ve made and will take back with us and try to implement. It was particularly impressive how he logs all of his data.”

Summing up the general enthusiasm from the day, Cheltenham College Head of Grounds Christian Brain said: "This is the first ICL seminar that I’ve attended. I brought another member of staff with me and its’ been good to attend a first-class venue to see what Gary and his team do on a daily basis, which we’ve learnt a lot from to take back with us. It’s nice to hear about what is going on in the industry, the different products which are coming out and the different techniques to apply those products.”

Please contact ICL on 01473 237100 or visit www.icl-sf.co.uk or www.icl-sf.ie if you are in Ireland. 

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Fifty groundsmen from independent schools throughout southern England and the Midlands were presented with a wealth of useful advice and information at the latest ICL seminar, which was held at Edgbaston Stadium – home to Warwickshire CCC and the Birmingham Bears.

Aimed specifically at turf professionals working in the independent schools sector, the popular ICL Independent School Seminar is now in its fifth year.

Emma Kilby, ICL Area Sales Manager for the Midlands and West, who organised and ran the event welcomed delegates to the event with an outline of what they could expect from the day before handing over to Edgbaston Stadium Head Groundsman Gary Barwell to give an overview of the facilities which includes a total of 24 pitches – 17 of them being first class before giving delegates an insight into pitch preparation and their trials of an SIS hybrid pitch.

Henry Bechelet, ICL’s Technical Sales Manager was next, giving an informative and entertaining presentation on ‘Root Development Technologies’. Areas discussed included what affects turf rooting, the relationship between rooting and nitrogen and what products can help turf managers improve rooting before also speaking about the company's commissioning of independent STRI trials where he revealed that the results conclusively showed that the use of Sierraform GT consistently increases root development.

Daniel Lightfoot, Syngenta’s Business Manager, was next to the stage to give an illustrated talk and demonstration of the company’s Greencast turf app and a fungicide update including the new regulations.

This was followed by Robert Jack from Dennis and SISIS who gave a presentation on the range of British manufactured turf maintenance machinery the company has to offer. Robert also discussed the recent STRI trials of the SISIS Javelin Aer-Aid, where it proved to be a very effective tool in helping to manage the soil profile, creating better rooting, allowing water and air movement through the profile, keeping disease at bay and helping to reduce compaction.

Concluding the session, Daniel Lightfoot returned to give delegates a greater insight into Instrata Elite fungicide. Daniel explained that when Instrata Elite is applied, it quickly spreads and locks onto the wax layer of the plant surface which provides a protective barrier to the leaf and destroys any disease spores which are present at the time of application.

After the presentations, delegates were given a tour of the stadium by Gary Barwell. As well as getting a close look at the cricket wicket which would be played on later that evening, they were also shown some of the turf maintenance machinery which Gary and his team use on a daily basis.

Emma Kilby, who organised the event, believes that the day's varied content had been what delegates were looking for and was delighted that the event had been so well supported.

"Today has been a fantastic event and it was good to get so many groundsmen attending," she said. "These are professional groundsmen that produce surfaces for so many different sports. They come along to the event to learn and to network. It’s not just for the head groundsmen – it’s for all their staff who got an insight into the integrated turf management and agronomic support available.”

Mike Kemmett, Grounds Manager at Harrow School, said the seminar had proved extremely worthwhile and a great opportunity to network with other groundsmen from schools: “I’ve been for the last three events, and actually hosted last year’s event when I was at Haberdashers. It’s a great event to network and meet other people. I particularly found Daniel Lightfoot’s presentation on fungicides interesting as I now have a golf course to manage.”

James Pope, Grounds Manager at St Paul’s School in London commented: “I brought my assistant groundsman Tom Martin with me today. Today’s event was great to speak to other colleagues that I wouldn’t normally get the chance to speak to throughout the year and compare notes with. It was good to find out how Gary (Barwell) prepares his wicket. There are definitely a few notes that we’ve made and will take back with us and try to implement. It was particularly impressive how he logs all of his data.”

Summing up the general enthusiasm from the day, Cheltenham College Head of Grounds Christian Brain said: "This is the first ICL seminar that I’ve attended. I brought another member of staff with me and its’ been good to attend a first-class venue to see what Gary and his team do on a daily basis, which we’ve learnt a lot from to take back with us. It’s nice to hear about what is going on in the industry, the different products which are coming out and the different techniques to apply those products.”

Please contact ICL on 01473 237100 or visit www.icl-sf.co.uk or www.icl-sf.ie if you are in Ireland. 

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Dennis Mowers integral for Stoke City FC

Both the Dennis G860 and the Dennis Premier play an integral role in maintaining Stoke City FC’s bet365 Stadium pitch and training ground, according to grounds manager Andy Jackson.

Having joined the club as an apprentice on a YTS scheme, Andy Jackson now oversees all of Stoke City FC’s grounds maintenance – which includes the pitch at the bet365 Stadium and the multitude of facilities at the Clayton Wood training ground. Andy has twelve members of staff across the two sites and they work together as one team. He insists that no-one should be dedicated to one specific site, claiming that it enables them to deal with every situation and ensures that not one person is limited to having knowledge of just one site.

“Personally I think this method works for us,” says Andy. “It provides the opportunity to work in different environments which improves their skill set and it also takes out the mundane task of just looking at one site all the time.”

“Obviously it is important that we’ve got the correct staff in place but it is absolutely essential that we have the right machinery and that everything is reliable.”

Andy has a fleet of Dennis mowers which sees four Premier’s and three G860’s based at the training ground, while the stadium has two G860’s.

“I feel that the Premier’s do a very good job on the soil based pitches,” he says. “We also use them on the Desso Grassmaster pitches if we need to firm them up a little bit - especially when we’ve been growing pitches in. We use the Premier in conjunction with the G860 and the two machines give us plenty of options.” 

Fitted with either a powerful Honda Petrol or Kubota diesel engine, the Dennis Premier is available in 30” and 36” cutting widths. A three section rear roller and steering brakes make it easy to manoeuvre giving an excellent stripe pattern and rolling characteristics. Complete with a large diameter front roller with adjustable scraper, for precise height of cut control, the machine is easy to adjust on both sides with the use of a single spanner.

Equally impressive is the G860 which features an interchangeable cassette system, giving options to fit a variety of heads including scarifiers, verticutters, brushes, spikers, and slitters as well as 6, 8 or 11 bladed cutter cassettes. The operator can use the mower for a number of tasks with a simple one-minute changeover of cassettes.

“We have the Verti-Cutter cassette and the Brush as well as the cutting cassette,” says Andy. “We use the Verti-Cutter cassette at the stadium and at the training ground and use it quite intensively in April, May and then again in September or October. It’s a very effective tool and I find that we get really good results from using it after a match.”

“We also have the 6 blade and the 8 blade cutting cylinders – and which one we use purely depends on the density of the grass. So we might use the 6 bladed option in winter and for the first couple of cuts after we’ve grown a pitch in. If the density goes up then we might switch to the 8 bladed option so we have more cuts per square inch.”

The G860, weighing in at just 166kg, is renowned for its ease of use and groundsmen from grass roots to professional level have praised the machine for not only providing first-class results but also for its comfort.

“They are so easy to use – I like the fact they’ve got an open box at the front so I’m in control of everything I’m doing. We string cut so I can see the string, I can see the roller, I can see the blade, I can see the box in front of me - everything is visible at all times. The other thing for me is the setting - the adjustment of the height of cut is very simple yet effective. They also have low vibration levels which is great if you are using them for a long time like we do.”

“Each G860 probably does a distance each week from Stoke to Manchester and back. For a mower that is some mileage – they just keep going and going and reliability is key for me.”

“The most important thing is that the players have a good surface to play on every week - that the pitch is cut at the right height and that it is nice and flat. They just want the pitch to be 100% for every game and Dennis help us massively in doing that.”

“To be honest I don’t think I’d even look at a machine other than a Dennis. I get tremendous back-up from them and they are forward thinking. Personally I think they are the world’s best company in supplying mowers for groundsmen.”

For further information or a no obligation demonstration, please contact Dennis 01332 824 777 or visit www.dennisuk.com

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iTurf improves 9 hole Cruit Island GC

Despite working with a small budget, Brian McMonagle, Head Greenkeeper at Cruit Island Golf Club in Donegal, Ireland, has still managed to significantly improve the course through a tailor-made ICL iTurf programme.

Situated on the edge of the Atlantic coast with breath-taking panoramic views, Cruit Island Golf Club is a natural 9 hole, par 68, links course. Set over 2,809 yards with seven par fours and two par threes, the course also boasts a signature 150 yard 6th hole - which is played along the rocky cliff edge.

If you were to sail westwards from Cruit Island, across the vast Atlantic Ocean, the first land you would see is North America and it’s dedicated golfers from those shores that add to the 140 plus members already at Cruit Island. The course is generally run on the back of the green fees received throughout the year.

Brian has been at the club since 2000 and has worked with his assistant Donal Timoney since 2005.

They can both be highly commended on maintaining the course to an excellent standard. However, with budget restraints and unfavourable weather conditions, Brian contacted Colman Warde, ICL Ireland Country Manager, to see if there were any products that could potentially take the course to another level.

Together, Brian and Colman designed a tailored iTurf programme which was put together based on the specific nutritional requirements of the course, aligned with the budget he had.

The programme sees Brian start the year with an application of Greenmaster Pro-Lite Cold Start to the greens in order to get the growth up and running.

During the summer months when Cruit Island experiences most of its play, Brian uses SierraformGT All Season as a base feed, which aids recovery from heavy wear. This is supplemented with a monthly tank-mix of Sportsmaster WSF Spring & Summer, Seaweed, Greenmaster Liquid Effect Iron Fe, Primo Maxx and Seaweed from May to September – which is an excellent hardening mix for the links environment.

SierraformGT K-Step is applied in October as a turf hardener prior to the harsh winter weather the Atlantic brings to the course. When faced with these unfavourable conditions Brian also applies Sportsmaster High K, Seaweed and Greenmaster Liquid Effect Iron Fe as a tank-mix to provide a light feed to the plant during the colder months.

Commenting on the success of his ICL iTurf programme, Brian said: “If I’m honest, I initially thought that ICL products would be beyond my financial reach but I thought that I’d have a chat with Colman anyway. We sat down and spoke at length about the course and its nutritional requirements and we devised a programme within my budget which we felt would benefit us.

“The programme has massively improved the course and our members and regular guests have noticed the difference as well. It just goes to show that there is an ICL programme out there for anyone – whether it’s for a top level golf course which hosts major tournaments or for a local 9 hole course in Ireland that sits on the edge of the Atlantic ocean!”

Please contact ICL on 01473 237100 or visit www.icl-sf.co.uk or www.icl-sf.ie if you are in Ireland. 

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Adrian Davis, head groundsman at King’s Bruton School in Somerset, has reported remarkable germination speed and recovery rates from Limagrain’s leading MM range of grass seed mixtures.

In 1519, three eminent people born in Bruton, Richard Fitzjames - Bishop of London, Sir John Fitzjames, later to become Chief Justice of the King’s Bench, and Dr John Edmundes - Chancellor of St Paul’s Cathedral, established a new school in the town. Nearly five hundred years later, and still on the same site, the school is soon set to celebrate its quincentenary.

This unique school, which hosts 347 pupils, may be small in size but is big on education - in which every individual pupil is given an opportunity to flourish.

Sport plays a huge part in the life of all pupils at King’s Bruton. The school’s hockey teams have reached ten National Finals in the last five years with the Under 16 girls winning the English Schools National Indoor Hockey Championships in 2017, while the rugby 1st XV were unbeaten throughout the season.

Overseeing the safety and the quality of the school’s sporting facilities is head groundsman Adrian Davies, who has been in his role for nineteen years. Adrian works in a team of five, with two team members tending to the school’s impressive gardens while three manage the sports fields.

Cricket and rugby are the two sports that dominate the playing time on the school’s sports fields and throughout the year fifty-four home cricket matches are played over the summer while up to seventy rugby games take place throughout the winter period.

“Switching from rugby to cricket and then back from cricket to rugby can be challenging,” admits Adrian. “We start around mid-April for cricket and that runs through until the start of August – at which time gives us a window to start preparing for rugby – that’s normally about four weeks of growth.

“I have always used Limagrain’s MM seed. I have tried others but MM just seems to suit my type of soils here and I think it is the best out there.”

Limagrain UK’s MM range of grass seed mixtures is one of the most respected brands in the UK amenity industry and its mixtures are relied upon at many leading sporting venues in the UK and Europe. Adrian relies on MM50 for his cricket squares and MM60 for his rugby pitches. He also uses MM60 on his cricket outfields and MM16 on the school’s ornamental lawns.

“I do an overseeding programme in early April, prior to the cricket season, and obviously your governed by weather but it gives me great results every time - I’m known to have outfields like carpets.

“After overseeding all the outfields, we will be up and ready for September, and then we do another seeding programme in late March. I’ve always got a really established sward by September which takes me through a really busy fourteen week rugby period - where they are played on four or five times a week.

“I get good, quick germination with the MM seed and the recovery is excellent – especially with MM50. The seed seems very disease resistant as well and I’ve noticed that it actually holds back some of the diseases. I would also say that the inclusion of Headstart® GOLD in the mixtures gives the products the kick-start that you really need.”

As Adrian says, the MM mixtures have the added bonus of being treated with Headstart® GOLD. This user friendly, non-toxic treatment can help your grass get off to a great start and is perfect for enhancing performance on grass seed coatings for sports fields, golf courses, lawns and amenity turf.

Adrian also believes that the service he receives from Limagrain simply adds to the overall package.

“I like the fact that the company are not pushy whatsoever in trying to sell me products and I have built up a great relationship with them. They are always around when I need them and I get excellent back-up. This is of course fantastic but ultimately I buy Limagrain seed because it is a good product and it works for me.”

For further information, please contact Limagrain UK on 01472 371471 or visit the company’s website www.limagrain.co.uk. You can also follow the company on Twitter: @MM_Seed

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Andy Jackson, grounds manager at Stoke City FC, has reported ‘phenomenal’ results since incorporating the SISIS Osca tractor mounted oscillating brush into his synthetic surface maintenance programme.

It is safe to say that Andy Jackson is a one-club-man. Having started as an apprentice at Stoke City FC in 1994, he has since worked his way up the ladder and now sits in the hot seat as grounds manager in which he oversees the maintenance of the pitch at the bet365 Stadium and all of the facilities at Clayton Wood training ground.

Clayton Wood boasts a multitude of state of the art facilities including two and a half Desso Grassmaster pitches, five soil based pitches and two full size synthetic surfaces.

“Getting the right equipment for all the different textured pitches we have here is big task, and it’s key to how we go about our business,” says Andy. “The use on our synthetic pitches has become incredibly high so I needed to look at something which would combat that. I wanted a machine that was going to be effective and quick but to get a machine to do those two things I felt would be a hard task.”

Fortunately, Andy came across the SISIS Osca while attending the STMA Conference and Exhibition in San Diego last year and arranged for a demonstration to be undertaken as soon as he returned to home soil. The demonstration quickly revealed that Andy had found the machine he had been looking for.

The SISIS Osca is a tractor mounted powered oscillating brush with a 1.9 meter working width and is equally effective when used on synthetic turf with sand or rubber infill. The two oscillating brushes stand the carpet fibres up and redistributes the infill evenly, minimising compaction on the surface and improving its performance – giving consistent playing characteristics while preventing pile damage caused by reduced infill levels.

A contributory factor to the reduction of compaction is that the Osca’s working width will use fewer passes than other more conventional drag brushes to complete a pitch. Its aggressive brushing action agitates the upper infill level of the surface from side to side as well as brushing forward, helping reduce surface compaction and encourage the fibres to stand up straight which reduces the risk of contamination, drainage problems and leaves a consistent playing surface across the whole pitch.

“The Ocsa had everything we were looking for and the beauty is that it is extremely versatile. You can go deep into the pile or just take it lightly over the top - everything is adjustable to enable the machine to do exactly what is required.”

“The Oscillating brushes are the best feature for me because they get rid of any compaction problems and they provide a fantastic finish. Players at all levels, from seven year olds up to the first team, play on these pitches, so for me it is just important to have the synthetic surfaces as well presented as the natural pitches.”

Andy sets an hour aside each day to use the Osca and designates a fortnightly three hour time slot to carry out a more intensive clean. Since using the Osca he has noticed a significant improvement and he is not the only one.

“The Osca has brought our synthetic pitch to a new level and the feedback we’ve had from the staff, the coaches and the players has been really positive.”

“The results have been phenomenal and personally I think the Osca ticks all the boxes in getting synthetic turf to a level where it needs to be.”

For further information or a no obligation demonstration, please contact SISIS on 01332 824 777 or visit www.sisis.com

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After successfully completing a huge bunker renovation project at the prestigious West Kilbride Golf Club in Ayrshire, Souters Sports have been widely praised by both the club’s secretary and architect.

The West Kilbride Golf Club, established in 1893, is situated on the Ayrshire coast, with spectacular views across the Firth of Clyde to the beautiful island of Arran. As host to regular national events, West Kilbride is the most northerly of Ayrshire’s true links courses and the entire course is exposed to even the slightest breeze.

With the strongest of winds coming from the South West and North West, the 6523 yard course offers players the experience of links golf at its most demanding. West Kilbride has a committed membership base and its motto is "Gaudio Cedat Cura" - which translates to “Care gives way to joy,” which is perhaps testament to the club’s recent decision to rejuvenate over 30 bunkers. “We essentially wanted to make them look and play a lot better,” says managing secretary Graham MacKenzie.

“On some of the older bunkers the drainage had suffered and over time had developed a poor shape. We also wanted natural looking bunkers - to give the course more of a links feel and after a few members had commented on them we decided to go ahead with the project.”

The club called upon Scottish Golf Course Architects Rennie Design Ltd to undertake an analytical study of the facilities and following an in-depth report, plans for the renovation works were soon put in place.

“The next step was to put the job to tender, and myself and Stuart Rennie (managing director of Rennie Design) invited three different contractors to come in and pitch. It was at this point that we chose Souters Sports because we were most impressed with what they had done at other courses and with their overall portfolio. They came across incredibly well and we also thought that their proposal offered good value for money,” said Graham. With the architect’s vision in place and the Souters team briefed, construction commenced in late October and was complete by the end of February allowing time for establishment in advance of the season ahead.

The works incorporated the strategic repositioning of bunkers, building bunkers in similar positions, shaping support mounding and landform, drainage installation, irrigation alterations and finishing. The final piece of works was carried out on the 18th hole where the entire hole was re-bunkered to create improved strategy and deliver a visually impressive finishing hole.

“Between the architect and the club, we had a few different ideas throughout the project which changed the process but Souters were very accommodating,” says Graham.

“The feedback has been extremely good, not only from members but also from visitors who come to play on open days. The appearance is most notable and they look a lot tidier than they previously did and they also play a lot better. “I’m very happy with the work and would absolutely recommend Souters Sports and Rennie Design.

We built up a good relationship throughout the project and I would absolutely work with them again in the future.”

With such a potential complex project, Stuart was pleased that Souters were able to flawlessly bring his vision to life. “Souters Sports worked tirelessly throughout and carried out all aspects of the works in a professional manner. They were a joy to work with and Scott Maclaren and his site team pulled out all the stops to deliver the architects vision to the satisfaction of the client,” he said.

For further information, please contact Souters Sports Limited on 01236 453030 or visit www.souterssports.co.uk. Souters Sports are also on Twitter @SoutersSports.

For further information about Rennie Design please call 07977715 382 or visit www.renniedesign.co.uk / email stuart@renniedesign.co.uk

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Sherriff Amenity, the fine turf and landscaping division of Agrovista UK Limited, one of the UK’s leading agronomy firms today announces the acquisition of Terra Firma (Scotland) Ltd, one of Scotland’s largest specialist suppliers to the amenity and local authority markets.

The purchase will allow the two businesses to combine existing technical expertise and broad product ranges to provide land managers, local authorities, contractors, groundsmen and greenkeepers in Scotland with a full agronomy service, research driven advice, new product innovation and access to an extensive local distribution network.

Commenting on the announcement Simon Gough, founder of Terra Firma (Scotland) said: “Terra Firma joining with Sherriff Amenity is a really exciting prospect. The combination of both companies’ industry knowledge, experience and customer service ethos will form a strong, sustainable and service focused business model moving forward.”

Chris Clayton, Managing Director of Agrovista commented: “We are delighted to welcome Simon and his team from Terra Firma into Sherriff Amenity. The acquisition will strengthen the business in Scotland and provide synergies across the business which will ultimately benefit our customers. This combined with further product developments will generate exciting opportunities from the combined business”.

The new structure will retain all existing staff and the combined team will be led by Simon Gough.

For further information, please contact Sherriff Amenity on 01638 721 888 or visit www.sherriffamenity.com

For more news and insightful views, you can follow Sherriff Amenity on Twitter @SherriffAmenity

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ICL Combat Wear & Tear at Ely City GC

Andy Baker, Head Greenkeeper at Ely City Golf Course in Cambridgeshire, believes that his use of ICL products have significantly improved the high wear areas on the course despite facing unfavourable weather conditions and heavy usage.

Andy, who has been at Ely City GC for over twelve years, tends to the 55 year-old, 18-hole parkland course. Designed by the legendary Henry Cotton, the course boasts a large membership and is heavily played on all year round, as Andy explains.

“We’re in a good catchment area – there is no other course for about 15 miles, and with more golfers comes more wear. The course sees a couple of hundred rounds each day at the weekends so it is very busy. We get a lot of wear on the tees, wear around the greens and on narrow points across a lot of the ditches.

“The course is a heavy clay site with a lot of ryegrass and we’re 15 to 40 metres above sea level so we get a lot of moisture and it is incredibly wet in the winter. Admittedly it can be a struggle dealing with so much wear under low-grow and wet conditions - therefore it all comes down to having the right products in place.”

Andy relies upon three core products from ICL in which he applies an annual base feed to the tees and approaches of Sierrablen Plus 24-5-8 +2MgO to provide a long-term nutrient release. To ensure the health of the turf remains in optimum condition, every four weeks he then applies a combination of Primo Maxx plant growth regulator and either Sportsmaster WSF High N 35-0-14+0.13Fe or High K 15-0-43+0.13Fe, This combination is used every 5 weeks on the fairways.

This tank-mix delivers the correct amount of nutrients through Sportsmaster WSF while at the same time Primo Maxx reduces top growth and boosts sward density and root mass. The popular combination has proved to be a winning formula for greenkeepers throughout the UK and beyond and Andy is no exception.

“We put the Sierrablen Plus down at the beginning of March at about 30g per square metre. It offers excellent longevity – 9 months comfortably, so it keeps us in a good strong condition going into the winter period.

“From when we first apply it in March, the quality just shows straight away and then of course we keep that topped up with the Sportsmaster WSF and Primo Maxx combo. We started this approach on tees to start with and saw great results from that, so the following year we then took it out to our approaches, fairways and other high wear areas.

“We’ve noticed a big difference and have seen an improvement in sward density, presentation and colour and we are also getting less worm castings as a result. Generally, the overall quality of the course has improved, the signs of wear on those areas has decreased and the members have noticed the results.

“Since using these ICL products, the quality of the greens has improved so much that they are now as good in winter as they are in the summer. If you’re cutting your grass at 3mm you’re putting a lot more stress on it so you need to be putting the correct nutrient into it and this is what we get from the Primo Maxx and the regular feeding.”

Andy has also been involved with some ICL and Syngenta trial work, which he believes has only reinforced his decision to use the products.

“By trialing these products it puts me in a position where I can say whether a certain product is better than another one because it has gone head to head on the same area. My job is to make the course the best it can be and if there are new products coming out then of course I want to be trialing them and comparing them. It proves to me that I am using the finest products and I also share my thoughts with other greenkeepers.

Please contact ICL on 01473 237100 or visit www.icl-sf.co.uk or www.icl-sf.ie if you are in Ireland. 

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The opportunity to stand on arguably the most famous pitch in world football on the day of the FA Cup Final is a dream for many, but for four sports turf students from Northern Ireland – the dream has become a reality.

Gavin White, Jon Crawford, Michael Dundee and John Kennedy from CAFRE College in Antrim, Northern Ireland, experienced an unforgettable day when they were part of the Wembley grounds team at the showpiece of the UK’s most historic sporting competition – the FA Cup Final. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity was their reward, as well as a ‘big’ cheque and cash prize, for leading CAFRE to glory in the 2016 SALTEX College Cup – the Institute of Groundsmanship’s (IOG) national, student-led sports turf challenge.

Sponsored by Ransomes, the competition made its debut at the 2016 SALTEX event at the NEC in Birmingham, where the four CAFRE students competed against student teams from four other UK-based horticultural colleges in their knowledge of horticulture and grounds management know how.

“When we heard we’d beaten all the other teams and got our hands on the trophy, it felt like we’d just won the FA Cup!” said first year sports turf student Michael Dundee.

The team met with Wembley Stadium head groundsman Karl Standley on the morning of the big game between Chelsea FC and Arsenal FC, and were briefed on the day’s pre-match proceedings before getting straight into morning preparations.

“Karl Standley and the rest of his team were very welcoming from the start,” said Level 3 sports turf student John Kennedy. “To assist in the preparation of the ground on the morning of match day was a great opportunity; the meticulous preparation and attention to detail was staggering, from brushing the red carpet to scissor-trimming the edges of the goal uprights and ensuring the goals were secure and spirit-level straight.”

As the CAFRE students spent the morning learning and working with one of the most finely tuned grounds team in the industry, it wasn’t long before Cup Final fever starting creeping into the stadium – an excitement which was certainly contagious for Level 3 greenkeeping student Jon Crawford.

“Being a massive Chelsea fan, it was an additional bonus to be part of the event,” Jon said. “We got to walk all around the stadium, we sat in the dug outs and even had our picture taken with the FA Cup – it was an experience that I will remember forever.”

Even though Jon’s team didn’t get the result he was hoping for, once the pre-match preparation had finished Jon and the rest of the CAFRE team had arguably some of the best seats in the stadium as they sat pitch-side, behind the goal alongside other members of the Wembley grounds team.

At the end of the game, CAFRE student and Arsenal fan Gavin White - a Horticulture Foundation degree student, enjoyed watching his team win the game and lift the famous trophy. But there was no time for celebration, because the students were immediately back to work repairing the pitch for the League Two Play-Off Final which was taking place the next day. 

“Today has just been an out-of-this-world experience. The IOG have been fantastic, the College have been fantastic, the staff here at Wembley have been amazing and I would like to say thank you for this wonderful opportunity,” Gavin said.

Karen Proctor, international marketing and communications manager for SALTEX College Cup - Ransomes – said she was extremely proud to support the IOG’s learning initiative.

“The competition is a fantastic initiative created by the IOG to challenge and reward passionate and dedicated men and women within the groundscare industry,” Karen said. “The prize of helping to maintain the Wembley pitch before the FA Cup Final is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and one that Ransomes is very proud to have helped make possible.”

IOG CEO Geoff Webb said the initiative is all about raising industry standards. “The SALTEX College Cup is something that we feel very strongly about in terms of raising standards across the industry and creating interest, developing individual skill, and hopefully giving people the confidence to go for the big jobs such as Wembley itself.”

Meanwhile, Dan Prest, the IOG’s head of membership services, confirmed that the SALTEX College Cup will be even bigger at the 2017 SALTEX event.

“We’ve gone from five participating teams in 2016 to a potential nine or ten teams this year. For the individuals it is a fantastic CV builder. At some time in the near future many sports turf students are all going to be going for the same jobs, and it is whoever stands out the most – so this kind of experience will really help them on their career path.

“For the 2017 SALTEX College Cup, we have a prize lined up that will be equal in stature and reputation to the FA Cup Final experience – so watch this space!”

All colleges interested in participating in the 2017 SALTEX College Cup should email Dan Prest at dprest@iog.org for more details.

SALTEX 2017 will be held at the NEC, Birmingham on 1 and 2 November 2017. For more information visit www.iogsaltex.com

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Synthetic Success at Bloxham School

Tom Hall, deputy head groundsman at Bloxham School in Oxfordshire has reported excellent results from using SISIS equipment to maintain the school’s two synthetic sports surfaces.

With a rich history that can be traced as far back as 1853, Bloxham School is a prime example of great British public schooling. The independent co-educational and boarding school, covers approximately 60 acres of land in the picturesque village of Bloxham and over 400 pupils attend the illustrious school.

Standards are extremely high, as you would expect at a school of Bloxham’s stature, and equally impressive are the first-class sports facilities. Sport plays a significant role in Bloxham life and the school has enjoyed great success in sports such as rugby, hockey and cricket – to name but a few.

As well as a plethora of grass sports pitches, Bloxham also features two synthetic surfaces, and to maintain these; the grounds team relies on a range of SISIS equipment.

“Here at Bloxham, one of the synthetic surfaces is sand filled and the other is sand dressed. Predominantly we use the surfaces for hockey, but during the summer, we also have tennis, and in some circumstances we use it for cricket.”

“We use two pieces of SISIS equipment to maintain our synthetic surfaces - the SSS1000 Sweeper and the SISIS Twinplay Implement Frame, complete with a straight and zig-zag Brush.”

The SISIS SSS1000 is a tractor mounted sweeper which can be pulled by any machine. There are no tools required for the adjustment of the brush or the angle of the draw bar and to make storage easy the draw bar lifts to an upright position. With an aluminium hopper with stainless steel mesh, any infill that is collected when using the machine is returned back down to the surface leaving it free from contamination of debris.

“I am really impressed with the SSS1000,” says Tom. “Before we had it, we used to manually clean the synthetic surfaces using blowers, hand-held brushes and bags. At Bloxham we have a problem with ash seed falling onto the synthetic surfaces, and this is one of the main reasons we bought the SSS1000. Now we have it, it makes the job a lot quicker and it allows us to spend time on other tasks. We tend to use the sweeper before games and generally once a week just to pick up any organic foliage.”

The SISIS Twinplay tractor mounted implement frame can be fitted with several attachments for the maintenance of synthetic surfaces and Tom chooses to attach the SISIS straight brush and the SISIS zig-zag brush – which he claims “do exactly what they are supposed to.”

“We use the brushes at least three times a week and we use them to relieve compaction within the pile and to evenly disperse the sand over the surface of the pitch,” he added.

Synonymous with exceptionally dependable, durable equipment and an excellent after sales service, SISIS is the brand most groundsmen are turning to for all their synthetic turf maintenance – and Tom claims he wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the products.

“If SISIS is mentioned to me I think of high quality products that do the exact job they have been designed to do. We’ve never had any issues with them and they perform the tasks excellently that we require here at Bloxham.”

“I would recommend SISIS equipment to anyone maintaining synthetic surfaces, purely because they’re reliable and top performing products.”

For further information or a no obligation demonstration, please contact SISIS on 01332 824 777 or visit www.sisis.com

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Organisers of SALTEX (Sports Amenities Landscaping Trade Exhibition) have launched their new 2017 campaign, which features the distinguished heart-shaped logo formed of grass complete with the words – Your Industry - Your Show.

In 1934 a groundsman at Eton College named William Bowles believed the industry needed a voice, and an organisation which sought to improve both the status and standards of grounds professionals, so together with 10 other founding members the National Association of Groundsmen, which later became the Institute of Groundsmanship, was formed.

In 1938, SALTEX was launched to unite the industry and offer educational and networking opportunities for those that managed green spaces. 79 years’ later the show has continued to grow and has now established itself as Europe’s largest annual turf management event. With its home at the NEC, in Birmingham, SALTEX remains true to those within the industry offering a world of limitless opportunities in which they can discover the latest trends and innovations, connect with colleagues and learn from top industry professionals.

The 2017 SALTEX campaign boasts the fact the exhibition is indeed “Your Show.”

This year, the show floor will be bursting with everything a visitor needs to increase their efficiency and improve operations. More than 220 leading manufacturers and suppliers have already confirmed their attendance to showcase an extensive range of products and resources and visitors can expect to see the industry’s newest advances and compare the full array of equipment, products and services.

Learning LIVE, SALTEX’s world-class educational programme, guarantees to offer a wealth of new knowledge to delegates as well as boosting their CPD points. Throughout the programme over 100 industry experts and leaders will share important information that can ultimately help a visitor further their career. SALTEX also offers its visitors free advice and guidance on specific turf challenges through the IOG regional pitch advisors on hand.

SALTEX 2016 saw a number of unique show features all designed to assist and help develop those within the industry - the Young Groundsmen’s Conference provided an ideal opportunity for young people looking to advance their career; Pathology and Soil Science LIVE allowed visitors to look in detail at the symptoms of turfgrass fungal disease problems; and the SALTEX College Cup - an academic test of turf management knowledge for students enrolled at UK colleges, helped to raise the level of academic prowess in the industry. These features have again been confirmed for SALTEX 2017 and are set to be even bigger in size and offering.

From show features, to educational topics, the show is continually evolving with the people of the industry in mind. Each year a large team of dedicated show organisers undertake strategic planning to ensure that the show remains fresh, vibrant and essentially everything a visitor and exhibitor expect it to be.

Perhaps it is the underlying vision of William Bowles and his co-founders, combined with the IOG’s unrivalled ambition for the show, which has ensured that SALTEX continues to go from strength to strength. The 2016 exhibition saw an increase in both exhibitors (292) and visitors (8,754) and over 20 exhibitors have increased their stand size for this year’s event.

Growth is a key word as show organisers strive to get people all over the world talking about SALTEX and the industry. Visitors from over 45 countries attended SALTEX 2016 and its social media campaign for 2016 boasted a reach of over 1.1 million users across Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIN.

Each year more and more grounds care professionals and manufacturers from around the world come in record numbers to immerse themselves in two days of unparalleled interaction.

SALTEX 2017 will be held at the NEC, Birmingham on 1 and 2 November 2017. For more information visit www.iogsaltex.com

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Adrian Cutliffe, Head Groundsman at Maginn Park in Buncrana, Ireland, has reported that a tailor-made ICL iTurf programme has provided him with fantastic results and excellent value for money.

Adrian, who works for Pitch Dimensions - specialists in pitch construction and maintenance, has been voluntarily maintaining the surface at Maginn Park for the past 15 years. It is the official headquarters of the Inishowen Football League (IOFL) - an amateur league for football clubs in the Inishowen peninsula of Ireland, and is widely regarded as one of the most important pitches in the league.

As well as hosting cup finals and other tournaments, Maginn Park is also the current residence for Ireland Premier Division side Derry City FC while their pitch is undergoing renovation. With approximately 72 games per season and just a three week renovation period each year, Adrian has his work cut out to keep the pitch in good shape, whilst managing on a very limited budget.

At the start of every season Adrian and Colman Warde, Ireland Country Manager for ICL, will sit down to design a tailor made iTurf programme specifically for Maginn Park. By taking the iTurf approach, Colman and Adrian plan season-long effective programmes and solutions for establishing and maintaining healthy, resilient turf.

The programme sees Adrian start the year in early March with an application of ProTurf 20.0.7 to get the grass plant up and running.. This is followed in late April by the first of a monthly foliar application which Adrian applies from March to September. The foliar application combines ICL’s Ultimate Package 1 (consisting of Greenmaster Liquid Spring & Summer and Primo Maxx) which is mixed with Sportsmaster WSF SeaMax and Sportsmaster Liquid Fe. This combination is applied to promote denser growth, better rooting and also to build-up a tolerance to heavy wear, which is much needed for a pitch with such heavy usage.

In early May, SierrablenPlus Spring Starter is applied as a base feed, which gives Adrian long lasting results for three months.

During Adrian’s short renovation period he uses ProSelect Premium Pitch and Sportsmaster Spring & Summer to promote seed strike. Three weeks later, in early August, he will apply SierrablenPlus Active 19.5.18 + 2MgO as a base feed which will see him through until the end of the growing season. An application of ProTurf 12.5.20 is also made to help aid recovery through the autumn and winter period. This is supplemented with a tank-mix of Sportsmaster Liquid Iron Fe, Sportsmaster WSF SeaMax and Sportsmaster WSF Hi K.

As a volunteer with a limited budget, it is essential that every product works for Adrian and he believes that the ICL iTurf programme provides him with the perfect solution.

“As a premium brand, most would expect the ICL iTurf programme to be out of reach for a volunteer with a very limited budget. I would strongly argue otherwise because it has been an very cost-effective solution for me. When you sit down and do the maths, you work out that the ICL products are actually cheaper than others over a long-term period because they work so well and last significantly longer than most other products.

“The results have been outstanding and the pitch at Maginn Park has been in its best ever condition. The other thing to consider is that, as a volunteer I can’t always be here every day, so with the iTurf programme in place I know exactly where I am with everything at all times.”

Please contact ICL on 01473 237100 or visit www.icl-sf.co.uk or www.icl-sf.ie if you are in Ireland. 

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GoGreen Energy Shines for the Owls

Andy Thompson, head groundsman at Sheffield Wednesday FC, has reported excellent results since using Sherriff Amenity’s GoGreen Energy bio-stimulant.

Having started his career in groundsmanship with Doncaster Rovers FC back in 1998, Andy progressed through the ranks and landed the head groundsman’s role at Sheffield Wednesday FC in 2014.

A year later the club had a Desso Grassmaster pitch installed and Andy along with his team work around the clock in order to keep it in excellent condition. This is mainly due to heavy usage and the construction of Hillsborough Stadium.

The Stadium plays host to the first team, Under-18 cup matches and Under-23 league matches and throughout the 2016/17 season an incredible 154.5 hours of pitch usage was recorded. Along with such heavy usage Andy reports that the pitch suffers from shade issues due to the stands being high and constructed with old style structures complete with pitched roofs.

With this in mind, Andy, who has been working with Sherriff Amenity since his days at Doncaster Rovers, wanted a product that would help take some stress out of the grass sward and give the pitch a shine in the lead up to televised games. Upon a recommendation from Sherriff’s Amenity Specialists Joe Kinder and Tom Wood, Andy turned to GoGreen Energy.

GoGreen Energy is a concentrated bio-stimulant, formulated to assist plant health and relieve stress symptoms in a wide variety of amenity turf situations. Containing seaweed, plant sugars, simple carbohydrates and a specially selected full package of trace elements, GoGreen Energy provides optimum results when grass is stressed. The low NPK analysis, complemented by suitable wetting and spreading agents, makes this an ideal component of any turf maintenance programme.

Andy applies 60 litres of GoGreen Energy on a fortnightly basis or when using it the day before a match he applies 40 litres.

“GoGreen Energy has performed incredibly well and has given us a shine on the surface that is aesthetically pleasing - especially for a night time kick-off,” says Andy. “It has taken away some of the stresses the plant gets from a football match, the pitch has played better with a lot less scars forming and the rooting seems to have significantly improved.”

In addition to the great results from GoGreen Energy, Andy was quick to praise the customer service he receives from Sherriff Amenity.

“I meet regularly with my representative Tom Wood when we discuss pitch issues and how to raise the standards of the playing surface. We bounce ideas off each other and try to get the pitch rooting as healthy as possible in a short space of time. Joe Kinder (Sherriff Amenity’s Technical Manager) also comes to visit me twice a year, or more if required, to go through any technical improvements we can implement.

“Products always arrive in a swift manner and I know I can rely on Sherriff to be competitive on price and excellent on service.”

For further information, please contact Sherriff Amenity on 01638 721 888 or visit www.sherriffamenity.com

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Glenn Davies, grounds manager at Bloxham School in Oxfordshire has claimed that he chooses Dennis because of the “strength, history, quality and durability” of the mowers.

Set in the beautiful countryside of Oxfordshire, Bloxham School is an independent co-educational day and boarding school for students aged 11-18. Although the school is best known for its academic success, Bloxham also boasts a superb sporting programme which is complimented by first-class facilities.

Glenn oversees the maintenance of around 40 acres of sports fields which includes seven rugby pitches, four cricket squares, one football pitch, one hockey pitch and two grass tennis courts. With over 400 pupils attending the school and playing sport on a regular basis, as well as the facilities being used by local and county sporting teams – it is safe to say that the pitches have a high amount of usage.

Helping Glenn and his team keep on-top of such heavy usage is the Dennis G860 cylinder mower, which they use on a variety of different sports surfaces.

“The Dennis G860 is a great bit of kit,” says Glenn. “We use it for cutting the cricket squares, for cutting the grass hockey pitches, both rugby and football pitches, and when we have county fixtures or cup games we will box off the cricket outfields because this gives it a much faster, truer surface so the ball will carry quicker.”

“In my opinion the G860 is one of the best machines you can get and with the interchangeable cassette system, it is extremely versatile.”

As Glenn says, the Dennis G860 features an interchangeable cassette system, and with a simple one minute changeover, users have the option of fitting eleven different types of heads including scarifiers, verticutters, brushes, spikers, and slitters as well as six or eight bladed cutting cylinders.

“In terms of the cassettes, we are particularly impressed with the scarifier, and we will use it lightly through the season so we can make sure we keep the thatch down to a minimum and the grass stood upright.”

“The brush is also a very useful cassette to have. We’ll use this throughout the season to keep the squares nice and clean, but we will also put the brush in after we’ve done a deep scarify in the autumn and the spring. This drags up all the grass the machines haven’t been able to pick up and it will also pick up all the debris and take it away. So when you put your top dressing down, you have got a clean, flat base to start with.”

 “You just can’t beat the Dennis machines,” says Glenn. “There are other machines on the market but Dennis has got a pedigree that nobody can argue with - for me, it speaks of strength, history and durability. They’ve been around for a long time, they always deliver, and most groundsmen you talk to will favour a Dennis above anything else.”

For further information or a no obligation demonstration, please contact Dennis 01332 824 777 or visit www.dennisuk.com

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New low drift nozzles for ProShield

ICL has announced that all bottles of ProShield – a barrier acting, pre and post-emergent non-selective herbicide, are now being supplied with low drift sprayer nozzles.

As part of the new product authorisation, which has been officially registered by the Chemicals Regulation Division (CRD), ProShield will now come with two low drift sprayer nozzles as well as a stewardship checklist attached.

The newly authorised bottles are registered through to 2020 and any individuals who possess old label stock will have until 31st March 2018 to use them up.

Many turf and landscape professionals have been benefitting from ProShield for a number of years now. Rainfast in one hour and providing rapid knockdown, one application is all that is needed. It is renowned for killing a range of problematic weeds and its barrier action prevents germination for up to six months while protecting against re-growth on gravel and soft surfaces.

Although a huge success to date, Mark Pyrah - Landscape and Industrial Business Development Manager for ICL Turf & Landscape in UK and Ireland, believes that the new nozzles will have an even greater impact.

“With these new low drift sprayer nozzles, the operator will notice an immediate improvement,” he says. “The product will only affect the targeted area with minimized chemical drift. Not only will it make the task more effective but you are essentially getting more out of the product because there will be significantly less wastage.

“In such uncertain times in which a number of products are being removed from the market, it is vital that updates such as these are made to the packaging. At ICL we champion best practice and are always looking to make improvements that are in line with current legislation, to enhance an individual’s operations.”

Professor John Moverley OBE, chairman of the Amenity Forum, also voiced his support.

“As an independent organisation, the Amenity Forum fully supports product stewardship and the importance of choosing the correct nozzle so that the product is applied exactly where needed for effective and economic impact,” he said.

ProShield has an ultra-low dose rate of 4.5 litres/ha and its water-based, non-solvent formulation is classed as non-hazard and non-irritant to the operator. It can be applied with a knapsack sprayer and the new universal nozzles can be attached to existing equipment.

Please contact ICL on 01473 237100 or visit www.icl-sf.co.uk or www.icl-sf.ie if you are in Ireland. 

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Dennis and SISIS have announced that they will be hosting a cricket renovation event at St Albans School, Woollam Trust Playing Fields on Tuesday 18 July 2017.

This event follows on from the hugely successful ‘For the Groundsmen by The Groundsmen’ series of seminars that started in 2011 and have brought together groundstaff representing schools, universities, clubs and 1st class and test match venues around the country with the ultimate aim of enhancing their education.

The event will be a mix of indoor presentations and outdoors practical sessions.

The day will commence with indoor presentations from Chris Wood (ECB Pitch Consultant), Alex Vickers, Keith Exton and Rob Kendle covering key topics such as ‘Principles of decision making for Autumn renovations and profile reading’, ‘profile inspections’, ‘renovations and aeration’.

Outdoor practical sessions will be across three squares with each square discussing individual topics, renovations and preparation on a budget, contractor renovations and aeration. These will be hosted by Ian Smith, Andy Clarke, Rob Kendle and Keith Exton supported by event sponsors Dennis & SISIS, Boughton Loam, cricketworld.com, Durant Cricket, Ecosol, Headland Amenity, Limagrain, Poweroll and RT Machinery.

There is no charge for attending and all delegates will receive a complimentary lunch.

To register your interest please contact Roger Moore at Dennis & SISIS on 01332 824777 or email roger.moore@dennisuk.com.

Further information about the range of maintenance products available can be found by visiting www.dennisuk.com / www.sisis.com

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New ProTurf Analysis from ICL

ICL has announced the launch of ProTurf 15-5-15 + 2CaO + 2MgO, a new analysis to join the popular range of ProTurf fertilizers.            

Over the last few years, ProTurf has become the number one choice for turf managers who are looking to significantly improve the health and presentation on a wide range of turf types including sportsfields, stadia, golf courses and racecourses.

The ProTurf range was the first to utilise the mineral polyhalite, a naturally occurring form of potassium, calcium and magnesium, which is mined at ICL’s own mine in Cleveland. ProTurf fertilizers provide a strong immediate growth response and a deep green-up colour, combined with a 2-3 month longevity.

The new analysis has been created as a result of customer feedback, after users reported that they would like a product containing a slightly higher level of nitrogen to kick-start growth in the spring. Taking the feedback on-board, ICL formulated the new ProTurf 15-5-15 analysis to provide an enhanced boost of nitrogen along with balanced levels of potassium and phosphorus. The calcium and magnesium are designed to support turf needs on sand based constructions.

Groundsmen and greenkeepers cannot only expect a greater kick-start of growth, even in cooler conditions, but they will also see an increased longevity along with an enhanced colour and growth response due to the Polyhalite.

Rigorous trials have already been conducted and early feedback has confirmed an overwhelming positive response with turf professionals who trialed the product reporting exceptional results.

Commenting on the launch, Henry Bechelet, ICL Technical Sales Manager for UK & Ireland said: “Over recent years we have seen ProTurf become an integral part in many turf maintenance programmes and we are delighted to be moving the range forward. This new analysis offers users of ProTurf a greater variety and it will also go a long way in providing that much needed boost in spring.

“We’ve been very excited at how it has performed throughout the trial period and I’m confident that many will be seeing the benefits of this product on their own turf.”

Please contact ICL on 01473 237100 or visit www.icl-sf.co.uk or www.icl-sf.ie if you are in Ireland. 

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Vitalnova Blade: A Proven Biostimulant

 Biostimulants are substances and microorganisms applied to plants and rootzones to enhance plant growth, and rootzone microbial activity. Historically the diversity of biostimulant products available was limited but in recent years a plethora of new products have come to the market in response to an increase in demand and interest.   The value of the global market has grown annually by over 10% each year for the last decade, and more and more products are marketed as biostimulants.  In this increasingly crowded marketplace the Turf Manager needs to carefully consider the products selected to form part of their turf maintenance programme. 

Whilst biostimulants can never replace macronutrients there are many reasons why a Turf Manager would include them to support their annual nutritional programme.  In recent years, the Turf Industry has taken a greater interest in soil biology and the benefits a healthy soil can have for the overall health of turf.  The focus of many professionals has changed from ‘turf growth’ to  overall ‘turf health’ with the aim of achieving greater levels of surface consistency, establishing better control of playing qualities and reducing disease occurrence. 

With claims of improving rooting, encouraging microbial activity, increasing organic-matter breakdown, improved disease and drought resistance, amongst other things, biostimulants appear to be the ‘silver bullet’ supplement that modern professionals need.  However, whilst it has been generally perceived that biostimulants have beneficial effects on turf health, evidence has often been anecdotal.  There are a few well-researched products available, which have the advantage of having ‘proven’ themselves and have supporting independent evidence of how they work and the benefits they can provide.  These products will provide the most consistent and reliable turf response.

Vitalnova Blade is a carefully formulated biostimulant for turf developed by ICL to boost microbial activity and encourage better rooting, amongst other things.  It is a product that combines seaweed and carbohydrates to provide a readily available source of carbon together with a range of micronutrients, amino acids and bioactive molecules. Consequently, regular applications of Vitalnova Blade through the growing season have been independently proven to stimulate soil biology and plant growth to enhance the benefits of a conventional fertiliser programme. 

Independent research for Vitalnova Blade has demonstrated an increase in soil borne microorganisms as well as improved rooting.  Plots treated with Vitalnova Blade showed a doubling of indigenous mycorrhiza levels as well as up to a 50% increase in beneficial bacteria levels when compared with untreated control plots.  Such increases in fungal and bacterial activity increase soil nutrient re-cycling to help release ‘locked-up’ nutrients and enhance growth.

Furthermore, the same trials showed a 40% increase in rootmass compared with the untreated control plots.  With a greater rootmass the turf’s ability to take up nutrients and water is increased to give a stronger, healthier plant and minimise stress which leads to better pest and disease resistance.  The small quantity of macronutrients included within Vitalnova Blade (5-6.5-3.5) also help to enhance the benefits of routine fertiliser inputs by supplying a direct source of readily available nutrients to support overall plant health.

Dr Andy Owen ICL International Technical Manager says:  ‘Vitalnova Blade is a well-researched biostimulant for turf surfaces.  The components have been carefully formulated for the best results.   We have independent trials data that shows it can improve turf rooting and mycorrhizal association.  In my opinion it is a great product for feeding your soil biology and all round turf health’.

Formulated for use on golf course greens, tees, fairways and sports fields, Vitalnova Blade is designed to be used during the growing season (April – September) with the first application being made once consistent growth has been achieved.  It is best applied monthly at between 20-30 l/ha and makes the perfect tank-mix partner for Greenmaster liquid fertilizers and Seamax Seaweed where the aim is to optimise turf health and recovery and maintain a natural colour.  It can also be tank-mixed safely with Primo Maxx where a growth regulator is required although the application rate may need to be altered depending upon the frequency of Primo Maxx application.  

When used regularly on sand-based surfaces, whether fine turf or sports field turf, the significant improvement Vitalnova Blade offers in microbial activity and the associated increase in nutrient recycling, coupled with the improvement in rooting most users see really does amplify the benefits which can  be gained. 

On sports fields where the time available for renovation is short and the pressure to regain sward cover is high, apply Vitalnova Blade alone or in conjunction with a good wetting agent to increase the rate of establishment and speed up canopy closure.  Apply at 30 l/ha once the seed has popped and germination has started.  Further applications can be made once the 2nd leaf stage has been reached and then it is recommended that these continue on a monthly basis and in conjunction with Greenmaster Liquid and Seamax to optimise turf health.

Designed to boost microbial activity, improve root growth and manage stress Vitalnova Blade is a biostimulant that will enhance your routine fertilizer programme.  It is available now from ICL-Specialty Fertilizers.

Please contact ICL on 01473 237100 or visit www.icl-sf.co.uk or www.icl-sf.ie if you are in Ireland. 

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Dennis G34D praised by Doncaster Rovers

James Davison, head of grounds at Doncaster Rovers Football Club has praised his new Dennis G34D cylinder mowers claiming they provide him with a finish worthy of Premier League standards.

It is fair to say that not one day is ever the same for James and his four members of grounds staff. Not only are they responsible for the Keepmoat Stadium - the 15,000 capacity stadium which is home to Doncaster Rugby League FC, Doncaster Rovers Belles and Doncaster Rovers FC, but they also tend to a 500 seater stadium containing a six lane running track for athletics and maintain Doncaster Rovers FC’s training complex at Cantley Park.

“It is a unique set-up we have here,” says James. “Most days you’re not just coming in to mow the pitch – you might be trimming some trees or tending to the memorial garden – there’s a number of varied tasks which we carry out on a daily basis.”

With the pitch at Keepmoat in constant use by three sports teams, James and his team are kept busy and just last year their hard work was recognised when the RFL recommended them for the Institute of Groundsmanship’s (IOG) Grounds Team of the Year.

“Unfortunately we didn’t quite win it, but we were highly commended,” says James. “For the amount of games that are played on the pitch, I believe it is quite an achievement. We put a lot of dedication into what we do and have incredibly high standards.”

According to James, it is for this reason that he chooses Dennis mowers when it comes to maintaining the pitch.

“When the stadium was first built we had two Dennis G860 cylinder mowers. Soon we will be celebrating the stadium’s 10 year anniversary and throughout that time the G860’s have always done a first-class job. I’ve never had any problems with them so why change a brand when it does everything you want it to do?”

Based on his experience of using the G860’s, James purchased two of the new Dedicated G-Series range of mowers, which have been designed and built following the same concept as the Dennis G860 machine. Available in three different cutting widths – 26”, 30” and 34” - the mowers incorporate a large-diameter eight-bladed cutting cylinder to cater for a wide range of uses to leave a precision cut. The handlebar design makes manoeuvring easy and the wide adjustment makes it comfortable for all cutting heights.

“We wanted something which we knew we could trust and the finish on these mowers is immaculate. They’re not too heavy, you can move them easily, and for me they are everything – quite simply an excellent and vital tool to have in our armoury.  Whether you are in the Premier League or non-league – Dennis mowers are everywhere and that’s testament to the build quality, the reputation they have for customer service and the presentation of the pitch that they help the groundsman to achieve.”

James uses his G34D in his match day preparations which start with a double cut on a Thursday before a game, and then subsequent double cuts on the Friday and on the Saturday. He admits that a long-term element of superstition plays a part in three double cuts over the course of three days – but so far the results speak for themselves.

“It seems to work and I’ll continue to do it all the time it is working,” says James. “Dennis mowers provide you with that wow factor and it also means that for a club with our resources we can still achieve a finish like any of the Premier League clubs.”

For further information or a no obligation demonstration, please contact Dennis 01332 824 777 or visit www.dennisuk.com

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