A major re-organisation and extension of the sports pitches at Liverpool John Moores University was completed with minimum disruption of use, largely due to the application of SierrablenPlus slow-release fertiliser.
Like many schools and universities, Liverpool John Moores has opened its doors to the local community and allowed a huge number of enthusiasts to take part in sports using its outdoor sports facilities. Although highly commendable, this act of generosity inevitably places an increased burden on the existing pitches and it was recognised that further investment in new facilities was essential if the pitches were to retain a high standard for all to enjoy. Work began on-site in February 2008 to extend the existing pitches by approximately 3500 sq metres which included the construction of a completely new rugby pitch.
Any major development requires a necessary period of 'down time' and considerable discussion was given to ways of minimising the inconvenience without making any concessions on quality. This was particularly important as the University rugby league is represented in the BUSA national premier league.
Martin Grayshon is Head of the University's Property Services Department and oversees the outdoor maintenance programme. He was also looking for ways to improve the quality of the existing turf to see if there was a way to make it withstand the formidable physical demands placed on it daily. "We have a rolling programme of activities which carry on throughout the year. There can be up to 400 children on site at any one time, leading on to student and adult sports and events, even through the winter. We have noticed in the past that our own 'micro-climate', possibly due to the close proximity of the river Mersey, seems to result in us having more than the average amount of rain, dampness and very few frosts. This in turn appears to dilute the effects of any fertilisers we apply by allowing them to leach away into surrounding areas."
Martin continued; "Sports-e-equipment recommended that we try the Sierrablen range of products to aid germination and to improve the long-term quality and recovery of the sward. After consultation with Ed Carter from Scotts, we applied a light application of 30gms per square metre of SierrablenPlus in late March as a pre-seeder, a main application of 55 grams per square metre in June and a further light application of 30 grams per square metre in September. The effects have been quite astonishing. Germination was fast, strong and prolonged. It took just four months from establishment of the grass from seeding to the first matches being played - I would have expected it to have taken a year. I now apply the SierrablenPlus range to all green areas on site, not just the new pitches.
The quality of the sward is the best it has ever been and recovery time after excessive use is extremely short. The grass is retaining its vibrant colour through the winter when I would expect it to dull. I believe the secret to our success is the slow-release granules. They allow the nutrients to be released over a set period of time, controlling growth and minimising leaching. It has been so effective that we only have to apply it once a year instead of four times as with our previous fertiliser."
Scotts Sierrablen and SierrablenPlus fertilisers contain smaller granules with a unique modern coating, allowing nutrients to be released more evenly and for longer. They produce outstanding results on all sports and amenity turf including even and prolonged growth which does not require supplementary feeding, saving turf professionals time, man hours and money.