A range of ICL products have helped Lincoln City FC's new Fibresand pitch get off to the best possible start.
At the start of the 2021/22 season, Lincoln City had its pitch at the LNER stadium completely rebuilt. The huge project included a new gravel carpet, drainage system, multiple sand layers and the amelioration of Fibresand for added stability.
To do the new construction justice it was vital that the pitch received the correct products, and it was at this point that Head Groundsman Craig Housley liaised with Craig Lalley, Technical Area Sales Manager for ICL.
"A new Fibresand construction can take a bit of time to settle," said Craig Lalley. "Therefore, when putting the programme together with Craig, we wanted to really concentrate on achieving good rooting to aid playability and recovery."
Within a six-week window before the start of the season, Craig focused on three products in the form of Sierrablen Plus with Pearl Turf Starter, H2Pro TriSmart wetting agent, and Vitalnova Links biostimulant.
The first product applied was Sierrablen Plus with Pearl Turf Starter and was incorporated into the growing medium. "The organic acids that are produced by the rooting utilises the phosphorus and the magnesium from the Pearl technology which really aids early establishment and good strong rooting," said Craig Lalley.
Through independent trials, data has revealed significantly increased rooting when Sierrablen Plus with Pearl is used as part of a seedbed preparation and during turf-laying. Furthermore, there was a 2.5 x increase in rooting when compared to another existing high-performing product.
To complement the grass seed and the Sierrablen Plus with Pearl Turf Starter, Craig then turned to TriSmart wetting agent. Containing three water management technologies consisting of surfactant and polymer blends, TriSmart is renowned for providing great water penetration, an even water spread through the rootzone and can improve the water holding capacity of sandy rootzones.
Craig Housley said: "Moisture management was key when the seeding first took place to aid moisture around the leaf which can help with seed germination. We needed that seed to be established as fast as possible."
Craig confirmed that the two products had an instant impact: "I had never heard of the Pearl technology, but Craig Lalley told me that it would be ideal for a new construction and that it would really help with the germination of new seed. We decided to give it a go and I have never known grass to come through so quickly, uniformed, and strong - the sward health was exceptional."
Four weeks after seeding, Sierrablen Plus with Turf Starter and H2Pro TriSmart were applied, Craig recommended ICL's Vitalnova Links biostimulant which is a new unique formulation consisting of the popular Vitalnova Blade and Vitalnova SMX.
Vitalnova Links was tank mixed with TriSmart, and Craig Lalley explained why this was applied monthly: "It is a great soil drench spray. Vitalnova Links aids microbial stimulation, reduces biotic stresses and further develops the rooting; while TriSmart continues to manage the moisture and ensures that the pitch doesn't dry out in warmer temperatures.
"Ultimately, we had quite a small window to utilise these products and ensure that the pitch was at an excellent standard in time for the start of the season. I believe we successfully achieved that."
Craig Housley, who is continuing to adhere to an ICL integrated turf management programme, believes that the products have massively benefited the newly constructed pitch.
"Everyone knows that it takes a while for a new Fibresand pitch to really grip itself together, but I have been really surprised at just how good the pitch has been in its first year," he said.
"We've also managed to maintain excellent grass coverage. In terms of playability, the pitch has benefitted the players and the style of football the manager wants to play. He has fast players that turn very quickly and to have the pitch underneath them with that kind of stability has really made a difference."
Pitchcare are an appointed distributor of ICL products. Visit the Pitchcare Shop to view the full range