Despite the hard winter and a demanding schedule of more than 50 games, Swindon Town FC's head groundsman Marcus Cassidy says that his pitch looks its 'best ever', due to British Seed Houses' A20 Premier Ryesport mixture and a targeted fertiliser regime.
"We used the Koro Field Top Maker on the pitch last May before sand slitting to alleviate poor drainage and then reseeded with 18 bags of A20," Marcus explains. "The primary drainage is becoming worn out, so I have to work with the top layer to produce the best playing surface possible."
With an eight week window between seeding and pre-season friendlies, Marcus had to get the new grass off to a good start, so began a nutrient regime based on the 12:2:9 BSH9 soluble fertiliser every two to three weeks and Floranid Permanent (16:7:15) slow release fertiliser every eight weeks. FerroTop (6:0:12 +FE) was also used in the Autumn to help maintain colour.
"Germination was within 5-6 days, and in two weeks I was able to make my first cut. Regular mowing encouraged the strong growth that A20 is renowned for, and the pitch was ready for play in eight weeks. I was delighted with the excellent colour and disease resistance right from the start," Marcus comments."
The high potassium KaliGazon (0:0:27) was added in the winter and going into spring, Floranid Turf (20:5:8) gave the pitch great colour and vigour and kept it performing to its best as the season continued.
In 2010, the process is due to be repeated after the play offs, and Marcus is keen to try British Seed Houses' new fertiliser, Fertilis Swing (14:6:17).
"Fertilis Swing is used prior to seeding to boost disease resistance, which is an excellent idea to protect the young seedlings, so I want to give that a go."
Marcus has taken great care to give his pitch the best possible chance - purchasing another four bags of seed to put on if needed six weeks after the reseed, and last year he also investigated the possibilities of a winter reseed.
"British Seed Houses tested their Vesuvius variety to see if it would be suitable after I enquired as to the options, and they showed that it will germinate at 3º Celsius. I had the extra bags to reseed in November if necessary, but the pitch was in such good condition that I didn't need them and they are still in the shed!"
He comments that British Seed Houses are always willing to help him out and suggest new products which might be of use.
"I have a great relationship with their rep Joe Hendy, he's always popping in to see how we are getting on and if I need anything. He took soil samples from the pitch recently which showed a potash deficiency, so we can now remedy that."
Such tender loving care has resulted in a pitch which has won praise from the management and the players in circumstances that have tested many groundsmen.
BSH A20 rye grass mix can be purchased from the pitchcare shop
"It was the worst winter for 30 years, and I know other clubs struggled with their pitches, but I can honestly say that ours looked its best ever," Marcus says.
British Seed Houses, Camp Road, Witham St Hughs, Lincoln, Lincolnshire LN6 9QJ UK
Tel: +44 (0)1522 868714 - Fax: +44 (0)1522 868095 - www.britishseedhouses.com