Article written by Phil Collinson, ICL Technical Area Sales Manager
The end of season renovations are a refreshing time. They bring both a feeling of optimism for the future and a farewell to the challenges of the previous season that hopefully made us better. We look forward to starting afresh.
But the optimism we feel at this time must be tempered with realism and a full commitment to the task ahead. The end of season renovations are an extremely challenging programme of work and big decisions need to be made through the grow-in that will determine the performance of the pitch through the whole of next season. The biggest challenge of all is undoubtedly the time constraints with perhaps only 6-7 weeks (at best) to transform bare ground into a fully functional playing surface with all the attributes of cover, colour, density, traction and wear tolerance fully established.
But it can be done with the right methods and strategies in place. Look at Old Trafford this year, it is possibly the pinnacle of all pitches and it regularly gets commented how well it both looks and performs - yet it had just 24 days from seed to the first game this season! It isn’t easy but it can be done with expert groundsmanship coupled with the use of the right technology.
That technology comes in various guises and we can’t ignore the advancement of pitch construction types at the highest level where synthetically stitched pitches are common place allowing for a stable surface with high percolation rates despite the level of wear thrown at them. Couple that with irrigation systems, lighting rigs and air circulation systems that can be used to create optimal growing conditions at all times and you can see how the advancements in turf performance have been achieved.
But let’s focus on the grow in. The process of getting from seedbed to established turf that will be ready to withstand the rigours of play and produce a stable surface at the start of the season. There are many decisions that need to be taken to ensure this process is successful and as stress free as possible. Seed choice, moisture management, nutrition, plant growth regulation, disease management and stress management are all things needing careful consideration and to be got right.
All these technologies as well as our understanding of how to use them have improved greatly in recent years. Whether it is the stream of new ryegrass cultivars developed with ever increasing levels of wear tolerance, density and disease tolerance or the surfactants that help us manage moisture consistently and optimally in sand dominated rootzones. There are the nutrition release technologies that allow us to optimise plant development. We have newer and safer active ingredients in fungicides that are highly effective against the development of damaging diseases. And there is the emerging market of biostimulants that are starting to show good solid benefits in turfgrass trials. These are all improving technologies that are designed to help turf managers maintain optimal turf development above and below ground during the establishment phase.
The key to realising all the benefits of these technologies is understanding how and when to use them and integrating the different elements together into a coherent plan. You can be sure that all the elements in the Old Trafford programme are fully effective and being deployed to all pull together - there is no room for guesswork on such tight timelines. To help you understand the ICL and Syngenta establishment technologies we produced a series of webinars to discuss the various stages of pitch establishment and how these technologies might be used. We think of the renovation programme in quite simple terms but it is clear that this simplicity only comes with knowledge and understanding. We hope you find the webinars interesting and helpful when planning your own programmes of work. Just follow the links below.
Seed bed choices and preparation
7th April 1.30pm - 2.45pm | Watch the recording now
A discussion surrounding the key decisions to be made to get off on the right foot including seed choice, nutrition and moisture management.
14th April 1.30pm - 2.45pm | Watch the recording now
A focus on supporting the seed as it germinates to encourage rapid development both above and below ground supported by both in-house and independent trial.
21st April 1.30pm - 2.45pm | Watch the recording now
Investigating how to develop the pitch in to a surface ready for the wear and tear of matchdays and how plant growth regulators and nutrition play their role.
In the meantime enjoy the spring growth, the shadows cast from the stands shortening and finally putting those frost covers away until next winter!