Scotts scores on new Brighton and Hove Albion pitch
By Lucy Ohsten
Brighton & Hove Albion FC has used a range of Scotts fertilizers on its newly renovated pitch, and seen results that have impressed players and managers alike.
In May this year, the Coca Cola Championship League club, which uses Withdean Stadium in Brighton as its temporary home ground, began a complete surface renovation of the pitch, mainly to help control the ingress of annual meadow grass (Poa annua), which can become a problem on pitches if left unchecked.
This renovation entailed the removal of the surface to approximately half an inch in depth over the entire pitch, inserting sand slits to help with drainage, top dressing the pitch with a suitable pure sand material, then re-seeding with Barenbrug BAR 7 and BAR Stadia grass seed mixtures.
At this stage, Scotts nutrient was applied. Head Groundsman Steve Winterburn explains how the product selection was made: "In order to establish precisely the right nutrient application needed to give the seed the best start, Scotts did a complete soil analysis for me. This was arranged through their distributor Avoncrop Amenity, whose area representative Andrew Wood has been in regular contact with me for the last couple of seasons. The soil analysis revealed the nutrient input needed was Scotts Sportsmaster PS5 with a Nitrogen, Phosphate, Potash ratio of 8+12+8 plus two per cent magnesium. This was a perfect choice to help develop strong, fast growth on the newly seeded pitch."
The pitch was then covered with breathable germination sheets to keep the soil warm while retaining moisture. "Germination started to occur in only five days," says Steve, "which is very impressive. The germination sheets came off in week two, and the Groundstaff began mowing in week three. One month later the pitch was in use for the start of the athletics season.
"The PS5 product was used again in the summer to really push on establishment, I'm now specifying Sierraform 18+9+18 to be applied, a slow release product designed for sand-based soils, which will help provide nutrition to the pitch as it matures."
The first football match was played in early August and, says Steve, the appearance and playability of the pitch has been tremendous. "The manager and players from both Brighton and the away teams have been very complementary indeed, and the referees have also marked us up on pitch quality.
My Groundstaff have noticed an increase in the strength of the sward when reinstating the surface after matches. I'm delighted with the results.
"There's no doubt that Scotts fertilizers have played a large part in the success of the new surface. Their wide range of products, and forms of nutrients available, make it easy to tailor something to your needs. And the soil testing enabled us to select precisely the right nutrient.
"Scotts' advisor John Noyce assisted in providing soil test results to me, so they provide a good back up service too. The plan is for a new stadium to be built in the city of Brighton & Hove as a permanent home for the club, hopefully within the next couple of years, and if it goes ahead I would be happy to specify Scotts products to be used on the new pitch at our stadium."
Photo shows Head Groundsman Steve Winterburn (centre) with, left to right, senior Groundsman Nigel King, Scotts' John Noyce, Andrew Wood of Avoncrop Amenity, and grounds assistant Adrian Blake.