Daniel Ratling, head groundsman at Whitgift School in Croydon, has praised Limagrain for developing a tailor-made solution to cater for his unique turf requirements
With an appearance of an attractive country estate matched by state-of-the art facilities, Whitgift is one of Britain's finest independent schools. The legendary David Attenborough even labelled Whitgift an 'astonishing school' after officially opening the Wildlife and Grounds section of the school. It is not uncommon to see flamingos, peacocks and even red-necked wallabies roaming around the beautiful Japanese Water Gardens.
Whitgift also prides itself on its fabulous sporting prowess and this was nationally recognised when it was declared Independent school of the Year at the Daily Telegraph-Aviva School Sport Matters Awards in 2010, and again in 2011. Whitgift is also the only British school to win boys' national titles in all four of the major team sports - rugby, football, hockey and cricket, in the same year.
With such a prestigious sporting reputation, it is essential that the playing facilities are always in pristine condition. This is no easy task with so many students using the facilities on a regular basis.
"The usage is intensive. We have over 1400 boys at this school with an ethos of sport-for-all, and the pitches really do take a hammering. Expectations are high, and keeping the facilities at an incredibly high standard is the main challenge," said Daniel.
Daniel, who has been head groundsman at Whitgift since January this year, and his team look after five cricket squares, six winter sports pitches, an all-weather hockey pitch, a synthetic turf tennis court and a small golf facility. To help him continue producing the high standards expected by the school, he chooses Limagrain UK - a brand he has sworn by for the last four years.
"I first started using Limagrain products in my last job when I was head groundsman at the Honourable Artillery Company (HAC) in London. I had heard good things about Limagrain, so I gave it a shot based on feedback from other people. The results I got were superb.
"At the HAC they have big marquees which essentially take up an area the size of a football pitch and when they take it down, everything is dead underneath. I used a mixture of Limagrain's MM60 and MM50 to not only grow these areas back in but also for the cricket square and rugby pitch renovations.
"I found that the mixture worked really well in terms of the speed of establishment, the quantity of seed that germinated, the rate that it came through and then the strength of it afterwards. Getting the roots down and getting a good development was key to what I was trying to achieve, and these Limagrain products really helped."
Limagrain's MM range of grass seed mixtures is one of the most respected brands in the UK amenity industry and is used at many leading sporting venues in the UK and Europe. Renowned for its fast germination and establishment along with its high disease resistance and quick recovery rate, MM60 is perfect for winter sports pitches. MM50 is the leading grass seed for fine turf surfaces and summer sports such as golf, cricket and tennis.
Since moving from the HAC to Whitgift School, Daniel needed a solution which would be suitable for his new surroundings - most notably a treatment for dual use pitches. With a degree in Sports Turf Science, Daniel had a firm understanding of what he was looking for, and together with Limagrain UK's amenity seed specialist team, found the ideal solution.
"I've ended up with a mix of three cultivars which Limagrain exclusively put together for our needs and requirements. It's also been treated with their HEADSTART® GOLD formula which is great and does exactly what it says it will do.
"I was looking for certain characteristics and I wanted something that would perform well in winter sports but would also handle the lower cutting heights of cricket outfields, and I feel that this mix does both. The seed has germinated and come through well and renovations have been very successful.
"The guys at Limagrain were always happy to answer any questions that I may have. When we were discussing what we wanted to achieve, they certainly had some input on how to select the right cultivars for the dual purpose mixture.
"I think the back-up from Limagrain has been a very big plus," he said.
For more information, visit www.limagrain.co.uk.