Repton School in the heart of the Derbyshire countryside has an educational history spanning over 1000 years. Although outstanding on so many levels the school encourages pupils to adopt a healthy balance between their studies and sporting activities. Parents and pupils seek out Repton because they know the school invests both in terms of pre-eminent coaches and world-class facilities to realise ability and sporting ambition.
Sports facilities at Repton School are of a superb standard and significant investments in recent years give pupils and the wider community access to state-of-the-art facilities including two floodlit water-based Astroturf hockey pitches and a sand-based Astroturf.
Alongside the 25m indoor swimming pool, fully equipped gym and fitness suite, are two multi-purpose indoor sports hall and tennis courts run activities such as tennis, netball, squash, and of course football, rugby, cricket and athletics.
It is these sports surfaces that Andy Butler, Head of Grounds and Gardens, is responsible for, covering an area of 66 acres at Repton and a further 44 acres at the preparatory school.
Already an experienced groundsman at Repton for 14 years, Andy took over 18 months ago as the man in charge. His priority was to review and re-structure the working days of the entire grounds team.
"We have a very experienced, and enthusiastic team of gardeners and grounds staff all willing to look at ways to improve our maintenance practices." Explained Andy "Although in the past we have relied on outside contractors, our current objective is to bring as much as we can in-house and use our expertise to its full potential.
"When I considered how much equipment we already had available in the sheds, it was obvious that we could utilise them much more effectively with better organisation. I consulted all our suppliers regarding the timings of applying fertilisers, seeds, spraying, researching the available weather data and soil analysis, and organised a timetable for a new structured, planned approach to our grounds maintenance."
Andy cited an example of the Imants ShockWave decompactor, supplied through Campey Turf Care Product Specialist Simon Holland.
"We have had the Imants ShockWave on-site now for over six years, using it intermittently for areas with excessive compaction or standing water issues. Now, in the new system, we schedule the ShockWave treatment for all turf pitches over the Autumn period when the conditions are perfect for this process, neither too cold nor too dry."
The minimal surface disturbance of the ShockWave, results in no disruption or cancelled games following treatment and all of Repton School training sessions went ahead as planned. The timing allowed the turf to then lay dormant over the cold winter spell, while creating the perfect soil and root structure to encourage excellent turf growth in the Spring. This in turn created natural turf sports surfaces that were strong and resistant to the amount of wear and tear played out throughout the sporting fixtures.
Andy continued "Other practices such as spreading, seeding, fertilising, all follow a strict but not rigid pattern, as the weather plays a huge part in any professional groundsman's day.
"We plan a complete renovation of our sports turf surfaces at Easter, using the Vredo Seeder and Dakota spreader to top dress after renovating, and the turf is back in full swing after three weeks."
"There is no doubt that this approach has led to a huge improvement in our productivity without compromising on standards or requirements, and I would recommend that any establishment that is able to bring some if not all of their routine practices back under their own control, would benefit."