Oxford University – the world-leading centre of learning, teaching and research is the oldest university in the English-speaking world. Gifted men and women have studied or taught at the University throughout its great history. Among them are 28 British Prime Ministers, at least 30 international leaders and 55 Nobel Prize winners.
Academic success aside, the University has also produced 120 Olympic medal winners and is currently ranked among the top British universities for sport thanks to coaching and student commitment.
Oxford University Sport manages the University sports facilities at Iffley Road Sports Centre and the sports pitches within University Parks and on Marston Road. The man tasked with maintaining these wonderful facilities, which consists of 24 hectares of grass surfaces, is Jon Buddington, who has been the University’s Grounds Manager for two years.
As a frequent user of Limagrain seed throughout his 30-year career history, Jon was not surprised to see Limagrain’s MM50 seed performing well on a newly constructed cricket square upon the start of his tenure at the University.
“The new cricket square was overseeded with MM50 and because of the great results we continued to use it,” he said. “Now we overseed with MM50 at the end of the cricket season and put a bit on pre-season just before we start rolling.
“We find that we get incredible results by overseeding with MM50 in the early spring when the surface is still damp, just before we start any heavy maintenance. It has been a very good seed for us especially for cricket – the MM50 has very good wear tolerance and we hardly ever get any debris.”
As Jon says, MM50, a blend of fine-leaved ryegrasses, is ideal for cricket squares and outfields. This hard-wearing mix has rapid germination, very fine leaved appearance, high shoot density and is tolerant to very close mowing, along with high disease resistance. All these attributes together produce a fantastic sward that has great colour all year round. It is also widely praised for its rapid recovery.
In the early stages of his new position at Oxford, Jon’s attentions soon turned towards the winter pitches. After consultation with trusted supplier, MW Turfcare, he was advised to try Limagrain’s MM60 seed on the rugby and football pitches.
This 100% ryegrass formula is renowned for producing an excellent playing surface. It is perfect for renovation and divot repair, has a high disease resistance, fantastic aesthetic qualities and offers extremely fast germination – which is boosted by the inclusion of Headstart GOLD®.
“We renovate and overseed with MM60 at the end of the rugby and football seasons – which all depends on fixtures which can be often drawn out depending on the weather and internal college games. Generally, we tend to apply MM60 to these pitches at the end of May and we get very good germination. The initial colour, from the infant plant is great, and we have a strong colour all year round – it never looks drawn out or yellow and tired so I’m incredibly happy with it.”
In terms of applying MM seed, Jon admits to veering away from recommended rates.
“For me, it’s all about feel and visual,” he said. “We don’t go by religious sowing rates or anything like that. In my opinion it is about getting as much grass in there as you can especially when you are taking it out and raking it and preparing cricket pitches.”
One look at the University’s immaculate and stunning sports pitches will tell you that Jon certainly knows his craft – he has after all been in the turf industry since the age of 16. However, he still modestly reserved praise for Limagrain UK and MW Turfcare.
“They are both great companies to work with. I get a fantastic product from Limagrain and Mark (from MW Turfcare) is an exceptionally good supplier. He is very technically knowledgeable – there is not much that I have to run past him but when I do, he has all the answers.”