After two-year absence

The ICL Independent Schools Seminar recently returned after a two-year absence due to the pandemic. 

Held at the all-new Sports Turf Academy within Leicester City FC’s training facility, approximately 50 turf professionals from the independent schools sector attended the event to network and enhance their education.

With the last seminar taking place in 2019, many attendees say they saw it as a valuable opportunity to catch-up on trends and topics within the ever-changing world of turf management. 

“You’ve got to stay up to date,” said Gary Austin, deputy head groundsman at Radley College. “In the short amount of time between the seminars, things have moved on so quickly and less products have become available. If you don’t attend events like this and keep yourself aware, then you will get left behind.”

ICL’s Dr Richard Collins was the first to take to the stage and proceeded to provide an overview and update on the many research projects being conducted by ICL. Richard explained the importance of research and trials; detailed the types of research being carried out by ICL including internal studies and those in partnership with leading universities; and he also offered an insight into specific projects such as SMX - a soluble seaweed concentrate, and a variety of wetting agents. 

Turf in the metaverse was up next as Syngenta’s Daniel Lightfoot addressed the exciting potential of digital agronomy. In his presentation, Daniel explained how digital activity will underpin the future of turf management, encouraging less chemical applications and more accurate biological ones.

ICL’s Henry Bechelet then outlined strategies for effective renovations. Step-by-step Henry went through the stages of a successful renovation process by covering everything from seed choice to early establishment and proven fertilisers to the use of supported technologies. 

A panel debate led by Adam King, head of grounds at Radley College presented an opportunity to discuss the biggest issues that the independent schools sector cares most about. Conversations focussed on staffing levels, recruitment, pay grades, how to get more people into the industry and whether industry organisations should be doing more for the sector. 

Host for the day and head of sports turf and grounds, John Ledwidge, then provided a fascinating insight into the recently launched Sports Turf Academy. John explained how the Academy aims to inspire the next generation of sports turf students by offering an elite training environment, with access to the latest technology and expertise.

The day concluded with a behind the scenes tour of the club’s state-of-the-art training facility and the consensus was that the attendees were pleased to see the return of the seminar. 

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