The Groundsman

July 2014

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meetings accounted for 782 hours and community events for 1,031 hours. Working closely with facilities manager Kevin Whitehorn, Adam's role as head of grounds/assistant facilities manager sees him responsible for machinery maintenance, too, in addition to budgeting (for the groundscare activities) and pest control. He is aided by groundsman James Down. Key to the success of the appearance and performance of the natural grass pitches – 11 football pitches (kept at 25mm in the summer; 35mm winter – higher around the edges so that each pitch 'stands out') plus two cricket squares and outfield – has been meticulous record- keeping that, for example, surrounds the implementation of a concerted maintenance plan based on the generous use of a verti-drainer and slitter (usually three/four times a month). In addition, sand – lots of it - is a common sight for the annual renovations and for topdressing and topping up the drain lines, with around 100 tonnes a year usually being applied across the pitches. Spraying regime This emphasis on improved drainage is complemented by, for example, a considered fertiliser programme and spraying regime - the former using Pro- Turf (from Everris) and the latter for improved weed management and the application of liquid fertilisers and turf conditioners, including seaweed and iron. In addition, a 'topper' is used regularly to eliminate poa annua. Plant nutrition and biology are areas of great interest to Adam and there's no doubt that he will constantly be investigating developments (especially those from specialist suppliers like Sherriff Amenity and Everris) which could help produce improved playing surfaces. This includes the grasses; Johnsons Premier Pitch is currently the chosen seed, "which gives great results across all the pitches", but comparisons are always being sought with trials and tests. Other examples concern the introduction of creeping red fescue to supplement the ryegrass on the cricket outfield. Importantly, too, says Adam, has been the switch from using a gang mower to a ride-on, "which has produced a better cut quality and, with less weight on the sward, leads to less compaction". Adam, who is part of the IOG's CPD My favourite film: Warrior My favourite book: The Secret My interests outside of work: Walking the dogs, golf and learning cricket The most challenging part of my career: Months of heavy rain Who I most admire in, or out, of the industry and why: Marcus Cassidy (Swindon Town) and Lee Jackson (Manchester City) The best piece of advice I can give to IOG members: Patience Facts and Favourites i Adam Witchell (right) with Kevin Whitehorn scheme, is currently undergoing an online FcSc Sports Turf Degree via Myerscough. His fervour for knowledge gathering, and sharing, is illustrated by his compilation (for Calne Town Council) of a groundsman's training manual that outlines the role of groundsmanship and covers, for instance, an annual maintenance overview plus explanations of aeration, mowing, brushing, harrowing and dragmatting, scarification and rolling, irrigation and fertiliser applications, seeding, topdressing, drainage, weed and pest control, as well as setting out and marketing out. Armed with this document, Adam has visited schools to advise on their pitches as well as to talk to BTEC pupils about the industry, explaining the benefits of a career in groundsmanship. l The site's artificial wickets are used regularly IOG BEST PRACTICE 27 the Groundsman July 2014 Visit www.iog.org for more information and digital editions

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