Sherriff’s Marathon Tackles Drought

Sherriff’s Marathon Tackles Drought: With prolonged heat and drought conditions challenging turf managers up and down the country in 2018, Tim Attwood, sports field groundsman at Beaudesert Park School in Minchinhampton, Stroud, believes that his use of Sherriff Amenity’s Marathon fertilisers have helped his turf to endure this testing period.

Beaudesert Park stands in beautiful grounds high up in the Cotswolds, commanding magnificent views over the surrounding countryside. Founded in 1908 at Henley in Arden, Warwickshire, the school moved to its present site in 1918 and has become a thriving co-ed day, weekly and flexi boarding school for 450 boys and girls aged 3 – 13.

Sherriff's Marathon Tackles Drought

The school has excellent facilities which includes 15 acres of beautiful playing fields. Football is the main focus at the start of the spring term which is shortly followed by hockey. Rugby is the major sport in the autumn term and as you would expect, cricket is prominent in the summer.

Tim is the man charged with maintaining all of the sports pitches and after working with Sherriff Amenity for 15 years, he believes that his use of Marathon fertilisers is a tried and tested method which guarantees results.

“I’ve used Marathon fertilisers on sites where I have worked before and they have just always worked. They are also semi-organic which ticks a nice big box for me,” he says.

As Tim remarks, the range of Marathon fertilisers feature a patented organic complex base that provides the extended release characteristics needed to give gentle root development without producing excessive top growth. The slow release mechanism avoids soft growth that is more susceptible to disease attack whilst the high potassium content helps to harden turf against fungal pathogens and low temperature stress. The analysis has been further amended with ingredients to supply the correct balance of nutrients required by the turf.

With the analyses of each product in the range being geared to a specific growth stage or season, Tim incorporates three particular Marathon fertilisers into a year round maintenance programme.

Applying the product by using a spreader behind a compact tractor and at rate of 25g/m2, Tim firstly uses the Marathon Sport Spring 16.4.8 typically at the end of March. In the midst of a warm July he will then apply Marathon Sport Summer 10.0.15 followed by the Autumn mixture 7.0.21 in October.

“This programme keeps the pitches ticking over nicely throughout the year,” he says. “It greens up nicely, the sward seems to thicken and it lasts for a good long time. Even throughout this summer, which has been incredibly challenging with the weather, my sports field has maintained its health and colour. From what I’ve seen, there are a lot of sports fields round here which haven’t and I think the Marathon Sport products have gone a long way in achieving that.”

Sherriff Amenity’s extensive range of quality products are also perfectly complimented by the first class customer service provided by the company’s amenity specialists. Renowned for their technical knowledge, which is consistently enriched through industry leading training programmes, Sherriff’s amenity specialists are always on hand to ensure that customers are always getting the best results from their turf.

“I’ve known David Evans (amenity specialist for Wiltshire and South Wales) for a long time and I know that he would never push any products my way which are not appropriate for what I want to achieve. He genuinely wants the best for my turf and he’s always there for help, recommendations and support. For me, that is a big factor in choosing to work with Sherriff Amenity.”

For further information, please contact Sherriff Amenity on 01638 721 888 or visit

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Barenbrug’s Drought Advice

Barenbrug’s Drought Advice: After a recent prolonged period with little rainfall, Dr David Greenshields from Barenbrug UK has advised greenkeepers to ‘act fast’ to save drought-torn grass, and has offered 5 tips for maintaining year-round playability.

1)    Beware a false sense of security

After a smattering of rainfall, lower-lying areas and perennial grasses (fescues, bents and ryegrass) are now greening up and demanding mowing once more.  However, high spots and areas colonised with the shallow-rooted weed-grass Poa annua are mostly dead.

Barenbrug's Drought Advice

After several wet summers, these bare areas in many courses are extensive, as conditions have been conducive for Poa annua to thrive.  The recent weather has redressed the balance and created a perfect opportunity to exploit.

If left alone, the bare areas will become green again, but do not mistake this for “recovery”.  The new vegetation will most likely arise from new wind-blown Poa annua seeds, or worse, moss and other weeds.  This is only a short-term fix and one that compromises playability and aesthetics.

2)    What to do about it (and the hidden opportunity)

In dead areas, now is the time to act. Use this as an opportunity to establish drought-tolerant perennial turfgrasses, to prevent problems from happening again.  Scarify and remove dead material as quickly as possible and overseed with a specialist mixture.

Do not sit back and wait for weeds to colonise; this is a race against time to get seedlings established before winter. Overseeding with so much space for seedlings to grow (versus a wet summer with a tight sward), is going to be a lot easier for healthy, robust grass to establish.

3)    Convincing greens committees to invest

Course managers understand this is an obvious course of action, but convincing committees that overseeding large areas can be challenging.

If budgets are prohibitive, target one or two really bad fairways and overseed these at an appropriate rate. This is a better strategy than spreading your efforts too thinly. Document the project and use it to your advantage the next time the issue arises.

Under a range of stress factors, these areas will demonstrate what can be achieved with investment. For example, ryegrass on tees and fairways will offer improved drainage in wet conditions over Poa thanks to increased root structure and less thatch build-up. On Poa-dominant greens, more bentgrass will improve year-round playability, aesthetics and disease tolerance.

4)    Save now, pay later

If annual meadowgrass establishes between now and autumn, and we get another harsh cold winter, it will undoubtedly quickly die back again. Re-turfing before next playing season may be your only solution in this case.  Overseeding now with a hardy mixture may well save your club having to pay for more expensive repairs later.

5)    Another drought doesn’t have to mean disaster

This summer we’ve seen lots of customers seeing the benefits of previous overseeding investment. That’s because bents, fescues and ryegrass are far more tolerant than annual meadowgrass and will recover quickly after drought. With so many courses struggling to maintain playability in this heat, and talk of an Indian summer to come, now is the time to act.

Download Barenbrug’s Drought Guide here.

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