The Groundsman

January 2016

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IOG BEST PRACTICE 21 the Groundsman January 2016 Visit for more information and digital editions completed accreditation to Levels 2 and 3 work-based diploma status. Daniel joined the school in January 2015, after spending three years at the Honourable Artillery Company sports fi elds in central London as head groundsman, and before that a spell with the St Albans School grounds team after joining Barnet Council as an apprentice at 16. He left no time in 'climbing the council ladder', becoming a team leader and gaining NVQ Levels 2 and 3 accreditation. He embarked on his Foundation Degree (via Myerscough) while at St Albans and in July 2015 completed his Batchelor's Degree in sports turf science and management, with Honours while at Whitgift. Striving for perfection "I'm very fortunate that I have a dedicated and highly skilled team (the average age is 38) and this is all credit to the school's senior management and to my predecessor. I know I can rely on each and every member," says Daniel. "As a team we take a professional approach to every task; we strive for perfection. We carry out all our own renovations hiring in machinery we do not own and we undertake our own soil analyses (via STRI) then interpret and plan the fertiliser regimes in-house (using a range of products including from Headland Amenity, Indigrow and Symbio) accordingly. We're now also trialling 'home made' molasses and seaweed products, growing perennial rye grass samples in sand-fi lled drainpipes. The pipes will eventually be cracked opened so that we can investigate root growth/depth and sward density, and development is continually monitored. We couldn't do all this without a dedicated and skilled team or without ongoing training and education." With this in mind, a new initiative is a series of in-house training sessions, led by Daniel, on plant and soil science "to go some way to quenching the team's thirst for knowledge and detailing why and how we make changes". All spraying work and, most, if not all, of the machinery maintenance (other than blade grinding) has been brought in-house, underpinned by training from Toro/Lely. Team work The grounds team includes a deputy head groundsman and three senior grounds staff including a senior cricket groundsman, an irrigation specialist and a groundsman/mechanic, plus three other groundsmen and a general assistant who undertakes perimeter grass cutting and hedge work. Each individual has a particular skills set and is encouraged to take responsibility for certain tasks – to encourage ownership – but team members can easily switch to differing tasks if need be. The wider grounds department, including gardeners and estates team, is also responsible for managing additional outside spaces including gardens, livestock (the school has a mini zoo), lakes, traffi c thoroughfares and car parks. Daniel continues: "It is clear that Whitgift School has high sporting expectations, which complement its academic expectations, and it was this ethos of continually raising sporting benchmarks that coupled with the school's aspirations of ever-improving quality pitches, on this larger scale, that attracted me to the job." That he and his team are meeting those demands is evidenced by them winning the 2015 IOG Souters Sports Independent School, University Sports Grounds Team of the Year Award. The Whitgift School grounds team has an impressive range of equipment and machinery and its disposal, including • Toro Greensmaster 1000, Reelmaster 5510, Groundsmaster 4300 & Reelmaster 3100 • Charterhouse Verti-drain 7416 • Amazone Profi hopper • Trilo 1502 • 2 x Kioti Mechron • Kioti DK551C tractor Machinery Matters • Kioti EX50 tractor with front loader • 2 x Lloyds Palladin • 2 x John Deere Greensmow • Dennis FTS10 & Premier • 2 x Autoroller • Graden 1200 • Wiedenmann Terrarake • Wiedenmann Terrabrush. • Hardi 600ltr sprayer & Blec Multiseeder 2 Large topdressing spreaders such as Dakota 414 are hired in as required. The school's fi ve cricket squares accommodate 26 teams Whitgift has six rugby pitches t

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