John Ledwidge - Grounds Manager for reigning Premier League champions Leicester City, adheres to an ICL structured nutritional programme for both the stadium and the training ground. Outside of the programme, he also relies on a range of ICL products to help him overcome any hurdles which may come his way.
“The stadium pitch’s nutritional programme easier to manage because fixures are often set and we can plan out weekly or monthly product application, however, things always change at the training ground and certain aspects of the programme need to be adapted on a regular basis. So with that in mind we have a structured programme devised by ICL and as and when we come to any hurdles we already have the products there to be able to cope with it,” says John.
The core of John’s programme involves applying granular fertilisers from the Sierrablen range as a base feed every eight weeks and Greenmaster Pro-Lite every two weeks. In addition to his programme, John’s micro-management style means that he sometimes needs to bring in a variety of other products from ICL and adapt the way he uses them.
John claims that this has been necessary throughout pre-season training after double sessions were carried out five days a week.
“Damage limitation really is key with the amount of wear and tear the training ground gets. We need to make the pitches as strong as possible to cope with the stress that they are put under and the double sessions really took their toll. So as soon as the players left for pre-season tour we did a double application of SeaMax - like a recovery spray if you like. In fact we try and treat the grass like an athlete, so we’ll prepare it for training or a game and as soon as the game is finished we will try and make the recovery process as quick as possible. We tend to find that biological stimulants like SeaMax will help ignite that and it helps bring it back quicker. This is when we use SeaMax outside of a programme.
“We also use SeaMax within a programme in which we mix it Primo Maxx and Greenmaster liquid. After applying it, we leave it to dry for an hour and then wash it down so that the SeaMax is working within the root zone. We have been applying that one once a month as a structured programme ever since we renovated. We’ve been seeing some really good results and it has been essential in managing the stress levels.”
In addition to the success of SeaMax, John also believes that ICL’s Qualibra wetting agent has been the ‘shining star’ so far this year. He already runs a Qualibra programme in which he applies 20 litres per hectare across the whole training ground, but when the start of the season was fast approaching and he was pressed for time, he decided to use it in an alternative manner.
“As with all football clubs we had quite a short turnaround period this year and so we decided to coat the grass seed with Qualibra – which is something we learned at Pitch Focus (ICL’s educational event). So we sprayed the seed and found that it really accelerated germination – we couldn’t believe what we were seeing when it started popping out after just three days.
“In terms of moisture management on a regular basis, Qualibra has really helped as it is really important that we maximise what we put onto the pitch. Before the Qualibra programme we were always conscious with the level of water in the tanks so it was important for us to find something to help us manage that.
“We’ve actually dropped about a third of what we would normally water, and when you bear in mind the amount of heat and dry spells we’ve had this year – that’s incredible. We’ve saved a third of water while maintaining the rootzone moisture levels and often all we need to apply outside of our watering programme throughout then night, is a light sprinkle before training to improve ball resistance so the players have the “zip” they want and that’s all down to Qualibra – it has been the shining star for us so far this year.”
To help John ensure that the programme and products continue to deliver consistent results, he has the assistance and support of Technical Area Sales Manager Lewis Blois; a service which he believes enhances the overall package from ICL.
“We rely on ICL for technical support and there will be times when I call up Lewis and say ‘Is it alright to mix this with that?’ ‘Is it alright to put it on this early?’ So it’s always good to have that level of support.
“To be honest my love affair with the ICL products first started back when I was at Coventry City. When you first start in the industry you always look at what people are using and even from back then it was always ICL. It was the front runner, always the market leader, and ever since then I’ve been using the products. We do trial other products occasionally but we always come back to ICL.”
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