Manchester City Football Club's award-winning grounds team has spoken about how specialist grass seed breeder Barenbrug is helping the Premier League club remain at the cutting edge of playing surface solutions.
Fresh from stadium head groundsman Lee Jackson leading the team to victory in the Barclays Premier League Groundsman of the Year Award, the team has embarked on an exciting new Barenbrug trials programme across its Carrington Training Ground and Platt Lane Academy sites.
The highlight of the programme is the UK's first trial of breakthrough product, Regenerating Perennial Ryegrass (RPR). Combining a unique creeping growth habit with the capability to establish quickly and tolerate wear, RPR creeping perennial ryegrass promises to be of great benefit for football, rugby and other sports surface applications - with the recent FA Cup-winning club a trailblazer in experiencing RPR's exciting attributes.
Platt Lane Academy was the first to establish the RPR trial on its fibresand constructed pitch. Head groundsman Steve Malone says that the RPR has done remarkably well since sowing on 11 May. "It has come through really well," he reveals. "The plant's looking very healthy, with a great colour and strong leaf that's already filling in at the base. I'm looking forward to seeing how it fares when we start training on it mid-July - we're particularly hoping it will provide improved winter wear and recovery. I'm very happy with it - it's great to try these things."
Over at Carrington, meanwhile, head groundsman Lee Metcalfe is equally pleased with the progress of his RPR trial pitch, sown 3 June on Loksand. "The RPR has germinated already," he says. "We're keen to see how it performs and how quickly it re-grows under the intensive wear pressure of the first team training when we start using it in August. It's exciting to trial something that could be the future of football grass seed solutions."
Likewise, this is part of a wider Carrington trial which includes future potential formulations of BAR 7, RPR and SOS. "It's a great privilege to be asked to take part in trialling new products," Lee continues. "The Man City grounds team is excited to see the results and continue to work with Jayne [Leyland, Barenbrug research and development manager] to identify products that will not only benefit our club, but others into the future."
The trial at Manchester City is a natural progression following the proven success of BAR 7 on different rootzones and constructions, including Fibresand and Desso Grassmaster at Platt Lane, and fibre rootzone (including undersoil heating), Fibresand and Loksand at Carrington. Eastlands Stadium's Desso pitch has also recently been sown with a special BAR 7 blend to minimise the incidence of the severe Leaf Spot disease pressures encountered in the stadium environment. What's more, BAR 7 has been chosen for the new Fibrelastic pitch currently being installed at Carrington.
Jayne adds: "We're extremely grateful to grounds manager Roy Rigby and the team for their willingness to try new products and find solutions for the future - both for them personally and sports surfaces in the wider sense. Their experiences with 'near future' BAR 7 and RPR in particular are of significant value in these final stages of product testing, as we work towards this unique Barenbrug-bred cultivar's commercial launch. We're confident that RPR will provide the club with improved recovery and better traction strength - important characteristics that will add value to the proven wear tolerance associated with BAR 7."
For more information on Barenbrug's grass seed solutions for sports pitches, call 01359 272000 or visit www.barenbrug.co.uk.