Hosted at St Albans School Woollam Trust, the seminar was designed to help attendees plan and adapt their maintenance programmes in an ever-changing environment. It brought together an audience consisting of cricket groundspersons representing grass roots, contractors, schools, local clubs, and international test venues.
Following an introduction by Howardson Group Area Sales Manager Robert Jack, Met Office Presenter Aidan McGivern produced a theoretical weather forecast for 2050 and revealed what conditions we could expect to see in the UK if global greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise. By showing what the weather could look like by 2050 at certain times of year, Aidan helped delegates relate to how different their experiences might be under a changing climate.
In the next section of the seminar Tony Hanson (Environmental Solutions International), Andrew House (Environment Agency), and George Warren (Anglian Water) utilised their wealth of experience to offer invaluable advice on how to reduce the impact of water restrictions on sports surfaces.
Turf Consultant Alex Vickers then delivered a presentation on the topic of rootzones in a changing climate. As ever, Alex entertained the audience while explaining this important subject in a relatable way.
Christian Spring, Principal Scientist at the STRI (Sports Turf Research Institute), was up next to explore the potential pests and diseases groundspersons can expect to encounter in the future.
The halfway point provided delegates with a complimentary lunch and a chance to speak to seminar sponsors – Cricketworld.com, Stuart Canvas, SIS Pitches, DLF and MM Seeds, RT Machinery, Boughton Loam, Grounds Training, Mansfield Sand, Origin Amenity Solutions, Turf Tank and White Horse Contractors.
As the audience settled back down, Dr Iain James, Head of Facilities Services for the ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board), took to the stage to discuss what sustainability means for grass roots clubs. Karl McDermott, Head Groundsperson at Lords, and Vic Demain, Head Groundsperson at Durham CCC, then proceeded to investigate the difference in cricket pitch preparations between the north and south.
The day concluded with a Q&A session in which attendees could ask the expert speakers for advice about their own projects or any issues that they may have.
Commenting on the seminar, Nick Lockhart, Cricket Professional/Head of Grounds at Felsted School said: “It was informative, thought-provoking, and of great interest. It has given me a lot of things to think about for the future, in terms of climate change, irrigation and pest control. There is no doubt that this seminar will have helped a lot of people today.”
As well as soaking up the education, Andy Moody from Moody Grounds Maintenance felt it was a great networking opportunity. “Over the years I have been to a few of these Dennis and SISIS events and I always encourage the people that work for me to come along as well. Sometimes we can be very lonesome people in the grounds maintenance industry, so days like this are a great opportunity to meet other likeminded people.”
There was one presentation, which struck a chord with Christian Brain, Head of Grounds at Cheltenham College: “The speakers were brilliant and there were some really good topics which gave us a look into the future to find out what is coming our way. Looking at water issues going forward was particularly beneficial for me. The site we’re on doesn’t have a great deal of irrigation, so that is a real concern. Therefore, looking at what we can potentially do going forward to try and solve those issues, was a real highlight for me.”
Turf Consultant Keith Kent said: “I’ve come to the seminar today because I have always found the Dennis and SISIS events to be so good. I’m working at Loughborough University at the moment and I’m carrying out some cricket pitch maintenance, which is something I have never done before after spending my entire career in football and rugby. There have been some entertaining and stimulating speeches today and it has been well worth the journey.”