Adam King, Grounds Manager at Radley College in Abingdon, Oxfordshire has reported excellent results from ICL’s ProTurf and Vitalnova Stressbuster - which he says have helped him improve the health and presentation of the school's vast array of sports pitches.
Adam has been at Radley for 17 years, and is responsible for the maintenance of the huge 800 acre site which includes a tenanted farm and a 9-hole golf course as well as the numerous natural and synthetic pitches. Sports played at the College include rugby in the Michaelmas Term, hockey, rowing and football in the Lent Term and cricket, rowing, lawn tennis and athletics in the Summer Term.
“We have 694 boys at Radley and sport is a major part of their life,” says Adam. “The campus is incredibly busy and the pitches are in use all-year round. We host 26 rugby teams, 16 football teams, 22 hockey teams and 24 cricket teams each year.”
Adam has a large team to help him with the mammoth work required to keep the facilities to the impeccable standards expected by Radley College. There is a total of 18 grounds staff including Adam, which consists of eight groundsmen, two greenkeepers and seven gardeners.
The team has strict maintenance procedures in place and, according to Adam, ICL products play an integral role.
“I have a long history with ICL and I have always found the products to provide consistent results.
“What I like about ICL is that, as a company, they are always looking ahead, always developing new products and adding to the stable of quality products. For what we need to do and what we need to achieve at Radley, no matter what the time of year – whether it is relieving turf stress or making grass grow, whatever you need ICL has, and you know that the products perform as you would expect.”
Adam applies ProTurf 15-5-15+2CaO+2MgO in readiness for a busy period of winter sports in which the potassium element can help pre-condition the turf for intensive play and the inevitable harsh weather.
“ProTurf is applied in early August so the grass surfaces are actively growing for the start of the season. The one thing we work on really hard here is recovery - for as long as we can. As long as the soil temperatures are there and the moisture levels are there, we want the grass to keep growing because we have 14 weeks of rugby followed by 12 weeks of football. We all know that by the time we get to January or February the recovery rates are minimal so if we can keep it growing up until Christmas then we will and this is where ProTurf really helps.”
ProTurf contains a combination of Poly-S controlled-release fertilizer technology, readily available urea Nitrogen, and Polyhalite, a naturally occurring mineral sourced from ICL's Cleveland Potash mine.
The Poly-S technology gives consistent, regular growth over a 2-3 month period without growth peaks while the uncoated Nitrogen portion provides an immediate turf response, even in cooler conditions. Polyhalite contains four macro-nutrients - Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium and Sulphur. Potassium is required for the process of energy transfer, especially photosynthesis and the breakdown of carbohydrates.
“We base feed with ProTurf,” Adam continues, “and then top up with liquid irons and Sportsmaster WSF SeaMax (a soluble seaweed concentrate) along with Vitalnova Stressbuster – which is a product I would use absolutely everywhere if I could.”
Vitalnova Stressbuster is a unique liquid formulation which pre-conditions turf against stress and helps generate a quick recovery. Featuring iron which provides an instant colour, Stressbuster also contains a unique combination of macro and micro nutrients, wetting agents, bio-stimulants and amino acids.
“Stressbuster is a lovely cocktail of everything you require which gives you a superb result. It contains iron, bio-stimulants, a little bit of sugar, some nitrogen – all of which encourage recovery. Colour-wise I would say we get about 21 days out of it and you get an instant colour-up overnight which is perfect when we apply before a game. It can also be complimented with some Primo Maxx II growth regulator.
“Ultimately Stressbuster is helping us to produce a tightly knit sward that keeps its colour and sends as many roots down as possible. That’s what it is all about in winter sports - with rugby and football it is all about traction so it is important that you have the right products in place.”
It’s not just the products that Adam and his team get great results from: “Emma Kilby (ICLTechnical Area Sales Manager), who I’ve known for many years, is an invaluable person to talk to ensuring that we have the best possible nutritional programme in place,” says Adam.