With a hectic match schedule, training pitches and a busy academy, Derby County's Head Groundsman Andy Croft has his work cut out keeping the turf in top condition at Pride Park, home to the Championship side since 1997.
Andy has been using British Seed Houses to supply his seed for just over a year.
"When I came to the club in 2006, I carried on with the seeding programme that my predecessor, Mark Robinson, had used," he explains. "But after discussions with Paul Moreton, the Technical Sales Representative at British Seed Houses, I decided to give their mixtures a try - they have a good reputation and are competitively priced."
He first trialled A999 Rescue mix, a blend of A20 Premier Ryesport and Annual Ryegrass for winter repair and was immediately impressed. "I wish I had 'before' and 'after' photos - I only have them from before, but the difference was dramatic," he says.
Andy then decided to use the company's seeds for his regular overseeding programme - goalmouths have seed applied on a regular basis throughout the season, and major renovations start in late April on the training pitches, with a start date of 23rd May for the stadium giving a tight window before the autumn fixtures begin.
Paul comments, "Every time I visit Andy he reels off a long list of his coming fixtures, there are many extra games over and above the first team schedule, which only accentuates the effort put in to produce the excellent surface at Pride Park. This reflects back to the decisions Andy makes in March and April regarding the pre-season maintenance schedule and product selection. I get a lot of satisfaction form Andy's enthusiasm when we walk over the pitch as he highlights the recovery and growth of the A20 throughout the whole season."
Pitches are stripped and cultivated before seeding, with 21 bags of A20 Premier Ryesport from a 30 bag delivery applied, leaving nine for in-season repairs at the stadium, and 100 bags on the training pitches.
Combining Vesuvius, Lucius, Carnac and Cadix Ryegrasses, A20 Ryesport gives excellent recovery after matches, and the attractive, dark green colour and high shoot density needed for televised sport.
The Academy at Moor Farm is seeded with 30 bags of A30 Rapid Sport Renovator mix, which draws upon the qualities of Cadix and Carnac to produce a hard wearing sward to cope with the busy schedule for up and coming footballers.
"Germination is really quick, with seeds coming through in six or seven days and after 12 days we start rolling to encourage tillering," Andy comments. " The fine leaf and good root development is useful at this ground as we have struggled to get roots down through the pan - this year we are planning deeper cultivations to give them a better chance."
Like many leading clubs, Derby County uses lights to encourage growth and recovery after matches and Andy employs a carefully judged nutrient programme to help the turf perform right through the long season.
"We do everything we can to give the grass the best growing conditions possible, from mowing with a rotary in the winter to keep weight off the pitch to applying fertiliser every 14 days. But there is no doubt that using the best grass mixtures available is also key to producing pitches of Championship standard," he says.