Having been down for over 25 years and showing the signs of significant thatch build-up, the fields at Billingbear Polo Club were fully renovated for the first time in the autumn of 2019. Part of the King Power Polo group, the renovation was conducted by Shorts Agricultural Services, with a bespoke 100% perennial ryegrass mixture by DLF delivering the deep-rooting, hard wearing coverage demanded for equestrian use.
"A renovation of this scale had never been conducted before but with the field becoming slippy and areas breaking up easily, the time was right" explains Billingbear Head Groundsman Damian Chec. Long-standing contractor partners Shorts were called in, to fraise mow, aerate, seed and topdress the surface in August last year.
"When it came to the seed, we had a specification to work to which we gave to Craig Spooner at DLF Seeds" says James Winfield, Manager at Shorts. "I've worked alongside Craig on a number of projects in the past and know that DLF will deliver a mixture that meets the spec provided but that also takes into consideration any complexities of each individual site. The support and advice we received was excellent and is part of the reason we wouldn't use anyone else for our seed requirements."
To deliver rapid establishment, quick germination and a hard-wearing sward, Craig blended a bespoke 100% perennial ryegrass mix featuring top-rated Johnsons Sports Seed cultivar Monroe - adding exceptional recovery and disease resistance to the list of mixture properties. James and the team applied the seed in September and, despite very challenging weather conditions over the winter, only minor overseeding was required in the spring in one particularly compacted area of the pitch. "We achieved good, strong and even growth and coverage that looked superb" comments James.
The deep rooting nature of perennial rye has also improved the surfaces playability when fixtures re-commenced in early September 2020. "The condition of the field has dramatically improved. The issues we were having with divots and areas breaking up have been completely eliminated" adds Damian.
The recent renovation marks the start of a broader programme of site improvements, including plans to install a brand-new drainage system in the not too distant future.
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