More than just sand

More than just sand: Colin James, Head Groundsman at Leyton Orient, claims that the products are just part of the overall package from Mansfield Sand.

“I’ve been at Orient for 14 years and have been using products from Mansfield Sand the whole time,” said Colin. “It is a product and a company that I can always rely on.”

More than just sand

More than just sand

Colin uses Mansfield Sand’s Fibre Reinforced rootzone for his end of season renovations which is an 80/20 sand soil rootzone blend and polypropylene fibre reinforcement product that is particularly advantageous when grass cover has been reduced due to heavy usage and wear during the winter period. It is incorporated into the existing fibre rootzone to compensate for any material removed during renovation, whilst maintaining the required pitch fibre content to provide a firm, stable divot-free environment.

“I like the fact that it is mixed together for me at the Mansfield Sand depot and comes straight to the stadium ready to use,” said Colin. “It is a mix which continues to work for us season after season.”

All the products are produced at the company’s Two Oaks Quarry, which has been in operation since 2015 and has the most up-to-date and advanced equipment currently in the industry. From winter sports pitches, golf courses, bowling greens and all amenity turf areas – Mansfield Sand has a solution for all no matter what the product.

How much Fibresand Colin uses can vary year to year as he explains.

“We went a couple of years where we had no renovation work on the pitch due to a change of club ownership – so during that period no fibre was put into the pitch,” he said. “That meant that the following season we had to top it up a considerable amount, so It does vary, but we very much take the advice from Mansfield Sand.

“Gary Cunningham and Sharon Morris from Mansfield Sand will come to the stadium throughout the course of the season to take some samples to see how much fibre is in there. When it comes to the renovation, myself, Gary and Sharon, and the contractor will all put our heads together to come up with a solution and work out how much Fibresand we need to apply.

More than just sand

More than just sand

“It is a great product and has never let me down in all this time. It’s essential for the pitch.”

Colin, who has been in the grounds management industry for just over 25 years, was also quick to praise the back-up he receives from Mansfield Sand.

“It is not just a case of buying sand from the company,” he said. “I find that I can always pick their brains – so if I’ve got a problem with my pitch, or just want to talk about any ideas then I find that they are people I can ring up and talk to and ask advice.

“They are knowledgeable and have a great amount of experience in the industry – you can certainly rely on Mansfield Sand.”

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MM seed – just what the doctor ordered

MM seed – just what the doctor ordered: Graham Wickes, owner of Lawn Doctor (Essex) LTD, has praised the quality of Limagrain UK’s grass seed after seeing phenomenal results across a variety of lawn and sports turf projects. 

Graham started his career in greenkeeping and while working at some prominent golf courses, including The London Club, he also found time to work towards his NVQ Level 2 and 3 in Sports Turf Management. Upon leaving the golf industry, to gain knowledge in building golf courses and football pitches, Graham began expanding his experience and expertise working for a sports turf contractor.

MM seed - just what the doctor ordered

MM seed – just what the doctor ordered

In 2008, he founded the Lawn Doctor and took all the principles of top quality greenkeeping and turf care in the sporting world to start creating healthy, lush lawns all over Essex. It initially started with residential projects and with clients impressed with his knowledge, attention to detail and the fabulous results they saw, that grew quickly before Graham then landed maintenance contracts at some bowls clubs and soon came to the attention of Bowls England who, recognising his skills, appointed him as their Greens Advisor for Essex. Bowling greens quickly led to football pitches and it was not long before he was building up an impressive portfolio as clubs, local authorities and private clients reaped the rewards of the hard work Graham puts in and the ongoing support he gives throughout the process.

The business has gone from strength to strength over recent years and this is, partly, due to his insistence on using only the highest quality products.

“It is my business and I strive to be the very best,” he said. “To be the best I have to use the very best products. Whenever I am pitching for a project or providing a quote, I always explain that I use the most premium grass seed and first-class products on the market.”

Graham first became familiar with Limagrain UK after a specific seed mixture was recommended to him.

“I was previously using another brand for my seed mixtures which I thought was great to be honest, but I always like to look for improvements, even when things are going well and I’m glad I did. I started speaking to another contractor and he was raving about Limagrain’s seed mixtures, so I decided to try it for myself. I was amazed at how quickly it came through and the colour it had was brilliant even without a feed.

“From then on, I decided to start using the Elite Green mixture from Limagrain for the bowls greens and I had fantastic results straight away. The first season I used this seed I had far superior germination to the previous brand I was using. The greens were in the best condition they had ever been.”

Limagrain’s Elite Green mixture, from the company’s Designer seed range, produces a fine, dense, hard-wearing surface with high disease resistance. It was Graham’s first experience of Limagrain’s seed in a sports turf environment, and he did not stop there.

In 2019 he decided to overseed with Limagrain’s MM60 mixture when renovating the pitch at Braintree Town FC. MM60 is the UK’s leading winter sports renovation mixture and can be attributed with playing a key role in many of the finest sporting venues you see today. The 100% Ryegrass formula, which is perfect for divot repair, is renowned for its extremely fast germination and its high wear tolerance. It produces fantastic aesthetic qualities, and its high disease resistance provides ultimate protection.

MM60 is also treated with HEADSTART® GOLD, which is a further development of the well-recognised Headstart treatment and has been developed using the latest scientific findings and field experience. It is a natural revolutionary grass seed treatment that ensures rapid germination. It is perfect for enhancing performance on sports fields, golf courses, lawns and amenity turf and Graham quickly found it was indeed a seed he could rely on.

MM seed - just what the doctor ordered

MM seed – just what the doctor ordered

“When I first arrived at Braintree, the goal mouth areas were totally bare – there was no grass at all. I overseeded the whole pitch with MM60, and I told the chairman that I was determined to keep grass in the goal mouth areas all season. He laughed and wished me luck because it had apparently never been done before.

“A year later and the goal mouth areas still had grass coverage and the condition of the pitch has attracted the attention of larger League Two clubs, looking for suitable match locations for academy games and also The FA who have offered it to international associations as a training location for youth international fixtures.”

In addition, Lawn Doctor (Essex) Ltd are on the list of Essex CFA contractors to help and assist clubs with the Grass Pitch Improvement Strategy (formerly Pitch Improvement Programme).Graham thinks the use of MM60 can be seen as a significant contributor to his success in these areas.

“The beauty of Limagrain seed is knowing that it works. To my clients I proudly inform them that I use the most premium products and the Limagrain seed backs this up. As a contractor, seeing the grass coming up within seven days after putting it down is great – it is also what your customer wants to see. I’ve not used another brand of seed since.

“It’s not just the quality of the seed but it’s the service and quick delivery which is also part of the package. Getting a product within 3 or 4 days is particularly important to me because it enables me to keep to schedules.

“Everything just works incredibly well with Limagrain UK.”

For further information, please contact Limagrain UK on 01472 371471 or visit the company’s website – you can also follow the company on Twitter: @MM_Seed

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Not Just Three Numbers

Not Just Three Numbers: Understanding fertilisers: What to use where, when and why

By Chris Humphrey MBPR FQA – Technical Manager, Collier Turf Care

Not Just Three Numbers

We are all familiar with turf fertilisers being referred to as three numbers (for example 6:6:12) but what does it really mean and what are we putting on our turf? To start, the three numbers are just what is required by legislation to be on the fertiliser. They relate to the percentage of major nutrients Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium (NPK) in the product. But you need to know a lot more.

Read the label and discuss with your FQA (FACTS qualified advisor) your requirements. FACTS is the Fertiliser Advisor Certification and Training Scheme. Is your advisor qualified?
Ask to see their FQA card.

Why do we apply fertiliser?

Turf needs many nutrients to remain healthy and it is important to ensure that they are present in the soil in sufficient quantities and are available to be taken up by the plant.

Typical level of nutrient in grass.

Major nutrients
Nitrogen          – 2.50 – 6.0%
Phosphorus      -0.25 – 0.50%
Potassium        -1.25 – 3.50%

Secondary nutrients
Calcium           -0.40 – 0.70%
Magnesium     -0.05 -0.25%
Sulphur            -0.25 – 0.50%

Iron                  -60 – 400ppm
Manganese     -50 – 400ppm
Copper             -50 – 400ppm
Zinc                 –  2 –  30ppm
Boron              –  2 –  5ppm
Molybdenum   –  2 –  5ppm

Nutrients are lost through leaching through the soil and clipping removal. But how much should we put on and in what form? Nutrients come in different forms and vary in speed of delivery, potential to scorch the turf, the effect on soil pH, availability at different temperatures, granulation size, longevity of response and physical breakdown. Nutrients also come from different sources. The major nutrient – Nitrogen – can come as Ammonium Nitrate, Sulphate of ammonia, urea, an organic source or as a synthetic nitrogen.

Ammonium Nitrate and Sulphate of Ammonia will release quickly and give a fast response at low temperatures, they will therefore not last as long as other nitrogen forms and do have a higher scorch risk. Sulphate of ammonia is also quite acidic which could be a useful or not depending on your soil pH and requirements. Urea needs bacteria to convert it to nitrate for the plant to take it up, therefore it needs some moisture and the temperature to be above 6 degrees centigrade to get it working. Organic nitrogen comes in any format where organic matter can breakdown with bacterial activity to release nitrogen. The common ones used in turf fertilisers are Bone Meal, Dried Blood, Poultry manure or Leather-meal. By the fact that organic nitrogen scores need to be broken down, they are a fairly slow release of nutria and do require some moisture and temperature to help them. The exception is Dried Blood that does break down quicker than the other organic forms. Because Organic fertilisers are slow they have a very low scorch potential. Most fertilisers that call themselves organic are actually only organic based and have a degree of inorganic nitrogen in them. Check the label or ask your FQA. The final source of nitrogen is the synthetic nitrogens such as Methylene urea, IBDU, Resin coated urea or Sulphur & Resin coated urea. These are designed to give you a slow release over a set period, often up to 9 months. They generally therefore have a lower scorch potential. It is important when using any coated product that the granulation is a suitable size for the turf area where you plan to use it and maintenance operations do not break the coatings.

How much nitrogen should you put on? This will vary on many things such as soil type, leaching potential, grass type and growth rate. You should prepare an annual fertiliser programme based on your individual requirements and the results of a soil test.

To work out how much nitrogen you are applying use the following formulas to give you the Kg/Ha you will be applying.

For Granular products

(Application rate x % Nutrient) divided by 10

Example – Apply a 4:0:8 fertiliser at 35g/m2
(35 x 4) divided by 10 = 14kg/Ha of nitrogen.

For Liquid fertilisers

(Application rate x specific gravity x % Nutrient) divided by 100
(specific gravity is the weight of a known volume of liquid fertiliser vs the same volume of water)

Example – apply a 15:0:12 liquid fertiliser at 60ltr/Ha. The liquid fertiliser has a specific gravity of 1.2 (i.e. it is 1.2 times heavier than water).
(60 x 1.2 x 15) divided by 100 +10.8kg/Ha of nitrogen.

Every site will vary and many things need to be taken into consideration when planning your fertiliser programme but as a rough outline of common nitrogen inputs are:

Golf Green/Bowls/Ornamental Lawns 80 – 120kg/Ha
Soil based Golf Tees 80 – 160kg/Ha
Sand based Golf Tees 200 – 240kg/Ha
Cricket Square 80 – 120kg/Ha
Soil based Football 80 – 120kg/Ha
Sand based Football 200 – 800kg/Ha or even more.

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Flood Water Just A “Big Puddle”

Flood Water Just A “Big Puddle”: Tim Packwood, head groundsman at Worcestershire CCC, has seen plenty of floods during his 29 years on the club’s staff. This one, he says, is just a “big puddle”.

With the county’s first home game of the Championship season just three short weeks away, New Road’s location on a floodplain has come back to haunt the Pears again, with the overflow feeding back across the ground to leave 95 per cent of the outfield lying beneath floodwater up to four feet deep.

Flood Water Just A "Big Puddle"

While the sight of his square completely underwater may be familiar to Packwood, to the outside world it remains inconceivable that first-class cricket will be played on one of those very wickets when Nottinghamshire visit in Division One on April 27.

However, the man in charge of getting the ground fit for competitive action is defiant.

“It is a flood but you look at it and as a groundsman you just think of it as a big puddle,” he told The Cricketer on Friday, as he looked out on the flooded outfield.

“That’s how I’d see this compared to most floods.

“The worst ones have had the roads closed and it’s been up over the roof of the marquee.”

The Worcestershire groundstaff need a minimum of two weeks to get the playing surface ready for that opening game, leaving seven days for the outfield to dry up.

Providing there is not an abundance of sediment left on the square, the mop-up job should be fairly routine.

If that is not possible, the match will be relocated to the Worcester Royal Grammar School nearby.

Packwood’s biggest irritation seems to be the hokey-cokey of machinery, which had only emerged from storage earlier in the week before having to be packed up again days later.

“Most of the lads have been on the groundstaff for quite a long time now and they know the floods are one of those things. You can’t do anything about it; if we could stop it we would,” he said.

“You don’t want it at this time of year but I’ve seen many a flood. You build a cricket ground on a floodplain, you take the rough with the smooth.

“As soon as it does start to go up, we’ll be doing our best to make sure we have something ready for April 27. Everybody would still like to make sure the game is still on here.

“It’s entirely down to Mother Nature now. We don’t flood directly from the river, being on the floodplain all the water backs up over the fields and we are the last stop.

“Although the river is starting to drop, it’s got to drop enough for all the ditchwater to go off. It could be done by Sunday, it could even linger around for another week.”

Provided the water subsides, the flood could even benefit Packwood’s preparations, as ridiculous as it sounds, with the weight of water compressing the wicket and aiding in the rolling process.

Still, the clean-up is hardly ideal so close to the new campaign.

Packwood points out, however, that he is not the only one battling the elements in the wake of a winter full of heavy rain and snow.

“Every county groundsman at the moment is working against it. Hats off to every groundsman,” he said.

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