Stuart Lambert, Head Groundsman at Gloucester Rugby, says that a combination of two seed mixtures from Limagrain UK ensures that the pitch at the Kingsholm Stadium stands up to the rigours of training sessions and matchdays.
Having been in the turf industry all his career Stuart has been the Head Groundsman at Gloucester Rugby for nearly three years now. Prior to moving to the Kingsholm Stadium, he was already accustomed to the Limagrain range of grass seed.
"I had first used Limagrain's MM50 seed in my previous role at Bromsgrove School," said Stuart. "We used it on the cricket squares, and I was instantly impressed. When I first arrived at Gloucester, the club were already using Limagrain and I knew what it could do so I decided to stick with it."
Stuart, who competes with up to three training sessions a week on top of matchdays, always starts the season with MM60; which is renowned for producing an excellent playing surface in a stadium environment. With the added benefit of being treated with Headstart® GOLD, a biological germination accelerator, MM60 delivers stronger more resilient seedling grass, giving turf the best possible start.
"We always use the MM60 mixture for our summer renovation and we will go with a rate of 50g per square metre - which is absolutely perfect," said Stuart. "One of the biggest benefits of the seed is just how quickly it germinates. Last year, the grass was growing within five days of applying the seed and I couldn't believe it."
After his summer renovation, Stuart ensures that he has enough bags of MM60 left over so that he can overseed some of the high usage areas throughout the season. He will continue to overseed these areas with MM60 until October and it is at this point that Stuart switches to Limagrain's Tetra Sport mixture to see him through the winter period.
"As soon as October comes, we switch to the Tetra Sport seed, because we find that it grows in a lot colder temperatures," he said.
A traditional repair mixture, especially useful for overseeding of high quality sportsfields to improve sward composition and aid recovery from disease scarring, Tetra Sport consists of Tetraploid Ryegrasses and is ideal for when the cooler weather arrives.
Stuart undertakes a rather unique pre-germination process before even applying the seed mixture - as he explains.
"We start by tipping the seed into buckets; we then fill the buckets with water and leave the seed to soak for 24 hours," he said. "The seed then goes from a light brown colour to a dark brown colour because it has absorbed all the water; and then we will drain the water off, leave it in a heated shed with a heat lamp, and it will stay there for two further days. We then apply the seed to the pitch immediately.
"Ultimately, this pre-germination process gives us a great head-start. I would say that it speeds the process up by about three weeks. On the particularly bad areas we will put the grow lights over the top and that helps in anchoring the seed and helping the grass to stand up.
"It is a process that not a lot of people do," continued Stuart. "But a lot of lower league clubs could and should be doing it because it buys time and makes a big difference - particularly in the winter.
"Limagrain's seed is the strongest seed I have come across and our soil samples prove that we get decent root growth as well. Quite simply, both MM60 and Tetra Sport tick every box for us. These two seed mixtures, combined with our feeding programme, certainly helps the pitch stand up to such heavy usage."
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