0 Scotts programme meets demands of Villa's free-draining pitch

Jonathan Calderwood on the Villa pitch.jpgAston Villa's head groundsman Jonathan Calderwood says that his Scotts iTurf programme keeps Villa Park's 98% sand pitch in top condition.

"We have great results from Scotts products and excellent technical back-up from Mark Rayner, our key account manager," says Jonathan, who oversees a team of 10 groundstaff - three at Villa Park and seven at the training ground, which comprises 14 pitches. Four of them are built to a similar high sand-based specification as the main stadium pitch. One is an exact replica of the Villa Park pitch, complete with full Desso system and the groundstaff team mirror the Scotts treatments of the stadium surface to achieve similar results. Even though it has none of the shade problems of Villa Park, it has identical rootzone and drainage.

"The problem with our main pitch is that water just goes straight through it," Jonathan explains. "We put around 60 tonnes of sand on it every year which makes it even more free-draining. We have a fertilizer programme that works very well for us because it is very difficult to keep grass growing well on pure sand - we use the pop-up sprinklers constantly."

"From September to March we use a moving system of UV lights rigs which makes the pitch even drier, but does keep the grass growing."

"Our Scotts programme begins with the Greenmaster Pro-Lite range in the summer with 12-0-12 and in the winter with 7-0-14 Double K for potash. Greenmaster liquids are ideal for giving the pitch an extra boost when it's required. This is also backed up with Sierrablen Plus slow-release granular applications every eight weeks.

"We keep disease at bay using Daconil, Heritage and Banner MAXX fungicides.

"Greenmaster Blade biostimulant helps encourage new grass development during July, August and September and we apply STEP Hi-mag three times a year - after renovation, again in October and finally in spring, together with a trace element package."

On the overall results Jonathan, recently voted 'Groundsman's Groundsman of the Year' in the IOG awards, says: "We have superb winter colour and believe the Scotts range is the best available for a demanding pitch like ours.

"Working with Scotts on our tailored iTurf programme really helps because we get excellent technical advice."

To find out how your pitch could benefit from an iTurf programme, visit www.scottsprofessional.co.uk and click on the iTurf banner on the homepage.

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