XF central to new era at Bishop’s Stortford College

One of Hertfordshire’s leading independent day and boarding schools has embarked upon a new era of grounds maintenance across its 130-acre site, with a team restructure and additional grounds investment.

Bishop’s Stortford College appointed Adam Smith as their new Head Groundsman in March, with responsibility for both the sports surfaces and the extensive ornamental gardens. With over 1200 pupils, and a reputation for sporting excellence, rugby in particular, the College is a ‘Partnership School’ with Premiership rugby neighbours, Saracens RFC.

Specifically on sport, Adam, plus two staff, look after 20 hectares of sport surfaces which include five full size and 10 junior rugby pitches, an assortment of training grids and pitches, one full size and five junior football pitches, six cricket squares -consisting 34 tracks , two Astros and a MUGA.

Progress on many fronts is being made.  “Increasing our maintenance machinery fleet was my initial task,” said Adam Smith, whose career to date has included seven years as a horticultural mechanic for one of the largest contractors in Europe, two years working for a dealership in Brisbane Australia and seven years at Haileybury Imperial College. “My career history has given me enormous insight and a great understanding of the needs of a multisport educational establishment.”

“An aerator was central to our plans.  For me, Wiedenmann who are renowned for build quality so it had to be the XF6 to support productivity within our maintenance regimes. Regular aeration is key to our maintenance programmes to improve our carrying capacity for training and sports fixtures. We are really pleased with the XF’s work rate and our ability to aerate multiple pitches in one day; a junior pitch is taking less than an hour.

Adam Smith, right, with Michael Hunt, left, the former Head Groundsman at Lords who visited the school in April.

“The cricket squares had their first aeration in mid-November and held up well; depth was 150mm with 16mm tines.  They also got a little feed using Sierrablen Plus 3 19-5-18+2Mgo+TE.  I was happily surprised the disturbance was so negligible. Seeing as little disturbance encouraged me to revise my plan… we’ll fit in an additional run, so we’ll go again before Christmas, instead of just the once… at 200mm to try to break the pan a little deeper, In January, I may, ground conditions allowing, go out one more time using the multi tine holders and 10 mm tines, probably down to 100mm to encourage root growth, then that finishes off aeration on the squares. 

“The outfields were another pleasant surprise.  The XF covers our 1st Team outfield in just five hours, which is impressive considering it’s 14 000 sqm. Using 16mm tines and a 4×4 pattern going down 150mm. The XF was the definitely right decision for us.”