ICL, along with specially selected partners - Syngenta and Bernhard and Company, recently hosted another successful Pitch Focus event, this years venue was at the Tottenham Hotspur Training Centre in Enfield.
The popular educational event has been designed to offer a unique insight into the latest advancements in sports pitch maintenance, focusing on specific research, techniques and products which help support the effective management of premium sports turf.
The event began with an introduction from Darren Baldwin, Head of Playing Surfaces & Estates at Tottenham Hotspur FC. The attendees then had the opportunity to visit a series of stations which combined presentations and demonstrations.
The first ICL station featured the company’s “Sports Field Germination Trial” where Henry Bechelet, ICL Technical Manager, reviewed the results of an ICL funded trial carried out at the STRI last year. The aim of the trial was to see which combination of treatments resulted in the quickest and best establishment of a new grass cover from seed on a sand based rootzone. Various treatments were tested including coated fertiliser vs conventional, wetting agents, rootzone innoculants and seed treatments.
The second ICL station saw Dr Andy Owen discuss the use of seaweed extracts for turf and he also presented the results of the latest turf focused ICL research. The presentation examined how the selection of the right seaweed product can help to relieve some of the biotic and abiotic stress that turf suffers through a busy playing season.
Bernhard and Company focused on the secret to maintaining healthy turf. On their station, company representatives explained how to achieve a quality playing surface with an effective blade sharpening program that works for you and your club, ensuring optimum playability and season long performance.
The second Bernhard and Company station also offered a fascinating insight into SubAir Systems – a unique aeration and moisture control system. The system, which is used by some of the most prestigious sports clubs in the world, actively oxygenates the root zone, moderates temperature extremes and controls moisture levels, ensuring a stronger root system and season round playability.
Attendees at the first Syngenta station made the most of the opportunity to explore the formulation of turf products. Business Manager Daniel Lightfoot and Syngenta Formulation Scientist Alexander Bassett–Cross were on hand to explain how innovative turf products like Primo Maxx are formulated to work specifically in the turf industry.
The second Syngenta station featured Syngenta’s Marcela Munoz and Tom Young from the STRI who presented the findings of two new research studies. In both studies, seed germination and establishment were evaluated. The treatments included the wetting agent Qualibra used at different rates and two major fungicides applied at different timings on three different commercial turf species.
Christian Brain, Grounds Manager at Cheltenham College, found the event worthwhile: “I’ve found the day very informative and it’s great to be here at such a fantastic site. It’s also provided an ideal chance to network and speak to different people. I particularly enjoyed Henry Bechelet’s seminar – it was extremely useful and very entertaining.”
Echoing Christian’s thoughts was Stan Wallace, Assistant Groundsman at Burton Albion FC, who said: “The seminars have been really interesting – especially the one about seaweed extract and how it affects root growth. It’s been good to keep up to date with what’s out there and what’s going on in the industry. I came today to see if there was anything I could take away which could benefit our turf and I certainly feel like I’ve learned a lot more than what I knew prior to attending.”
Stuart Kerrison, Head Groundsman at Essex County Cricket Club, was also upbeat after the event: “I came to see what the latest developments are in the industry and meet some likeminded people. There was a good contrast on the stations and I’ve learnt a few new things. It was also great to be able to ask questions to people who have the best answers. I would certainly recommend that people come to these events – the technical knowledge you pick up is invaluable.”