SALTEX College Cup Winners to Work at Wembley

Wembley-stadiumThe Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) has announced that the winning students of SALTEX 2016’s new College Cup Competition will be given an opportunity to be volunteer groundsmen for the 2017 FA Cup final pitch preparation at Wembley Stadium.

 The SALTEX College Cup, sponsored by Ransomes, is a new national student-led academic test of turf management knowledge. The winning team will not only get their hands on the SALTEX College Cup, but a ‘big’ cheque, cash prize and work experience at Wembley Stadium in the run up to next year’s 2017 FA Cup and FA Trophy tournaments. This fantastic prize, which also includes two night’s accommodation near the stadium, was kindly organised by Alan Ferguson, FA group head of grounds and estates at St George’s Park, who believes that it will prove to be a highly valuable experience for the winning team.

 “I see the opportunity for the winners of the SALTEX College Cup to work through a cup final weekend with the Wembley team as a once in a lifetime prize. The unique opportunity to see the Wembley pitch prepared meticulously for the final of the world’s greatest cup competition viewed by millions around the world is special. Within hours of the cup winners going off the pitch, the grounds team are turning the pitch around for the games the next day – demonstrating the challenges of what a stadium team have to deal with. The pressures the guys work under and the volume of what is expected is eye opening.

 “I believe the professional game should work at every opportunity with young grounds people to make this type of opportunity available as a learning tool and we welcome the chance to be the first to do so,” says Alan.

 The SALTEX College Cup competition will commence on the morning of the 2 November – the first day of SALTEX – in a conference room close to the exhibition halls. In teams of four, the students will embark on a two-hour competition consisting of paper-based multiple choice and short answer questions on turf management, plus a case study which will require a more in-depth written answer. The competition will also include live test samples for the physical identification of threats to turf health. Dan Prest, IOG learning manager and coordinator, who along with IOG head of learning Chris Gray, renowned turf consultant Alex Vickers and MD of the Turf Disease Centre Kate Entwistle are combining their expertise in putting the questions together.

 The SALTEX College Cup is yet another prime example of the IOG’s dedication towards developing the future generation of the groundscare industry and CEO Geoff Webb is delighted to see others within the industry embracing the same philosophy.

Commenting on this exciting initiative, IOG CEO Geoff Webb says: “It’s great to have Ransomes involved with the SALTEX College Cup, and now the staff at Wembley Stadium offering such a fantastic opportunity to the winners of this inaugural event. Initiatives like this simply demonstrate the good work carried out behind the scenes to create such an opportunity and credit for the initiative goes to Dan Prest who got the whole idea off the ground. We look forward to the competition adding to the already great mix of events at this year’s SALTEX”.

Karen Proctor, Ransomes’ marketing manager international, commented on the turf equipment manufacturer’s sponsorship of the SALTEX College Cup:

 “We are delighted to be supporting this unique educational initiative, which is being introduced at SALTEX this year. Ransomes is always looking for opportunities to support the future of the turfgrass industry and we are extremely proud to be working in conjunction with the IOG to kick-start this initiative.  It will provide an excellent platform for like-minded individuals at colleges across the UK to network and display their technical knowledge. Good luck to all the students taking part, the opportunity to win a once in a lifetime experience to prepare the Wembley pitch in the lead up to the final of a major competition is definitely an incentive to win!”

 College teams interested in competing should contact


Pathology & Soil Science LIVE Comes to SALTEX 2016

cricket-coreThe Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) has announced that a new unique feature called Pathology & Science LIVE will be coming to SALTEX 2016, which will be held at the NEC, Birmingham on the 2 and 3 November.

The Pathology & Soil Science LIVE area will be located on the IOG Hub (stand number C180) from 11am to 1pm each day and will allow visitors to look in detail at the symptoms of some common turfgrass fungal disease problems, as infected plants are magnified and displayed on a large screen. Turfgrass roots that are infected with plant parasitic nematodes will also be shown in order to demonstrate the way in which these parasites can affect root development and function. During this informal demonstration, short video clips will also be shown to allow visitors to see both fungi and plant parasitic nematodes in greater detail.

Pathology & Soil Science LIVE will be hosted by renowned turf consultant Alex Vickers and MD of the Turf Disease Centre Kate Entwistle.

Kate, who works closely with turf managers, consultant agronomists and technical representatives from across the amenity sector, in the UK and beyond, said: “Visitors are welcome to come along with any questions about turfgrass disease or simply call in and spend a few minutes enjoying the microscopic world of pathology. It’s a great new feature and SALTEX is the ideal place to hold such an event.”

Likewise, Alex who works within the IOG’s Turf Care Advisory scheme, believes that the new feature could be extremely beneficial: “This will be particularly useful for visitors who may have any soil profiles that are causing problems or concerns. They can simply pop in to discuss or even bring in a core sample or a good photograph – we can then look at it together and work out how it could be improved.”

The addition of Pathology & Soil Science Live is just one of a number new features coming to SALTEX 2016. In a matter of weeks, show organisers have announced both the highly anticipated SALTEX College Cup as well as the return of outdoor demonstrations. Combined with core features of the show such as the Young Groundsmen’s Conference, the enhanced LEARNING LIVE educational programme, Ask the Experts AND the IOG Industry Awards, SALTEX 2016 will be the most exciting turf management event to date.

Perhaps this is why visitors from as far as China, Saudi Arabia and the USA, have already pre-registered for the exhibition.

Visitor registration to SALTEX 2016 is free

Expanded LEARNING LIVE educational sessions announced for SALTEX 2016

Expanded-LEARNING-LIVE-educational-sessions-announced-for-SALTEX-2016-768x512LEARNING LIVE, the all-encompassing education programme designed for all sectors of the groundscare industry, has now been finalised and is set to be a major attraction at SALTEX 2016 on the 2 and 3 November at The NEC, Birmingham.

SALTEX 2015 featured 1,655 minutes of FREE seminars through the LEARNING LIVE programme and, off the back of its success, show organisers have commissioned an additional fourth lecture theatre to expand the number of presentations across the two-day event – to offer an even more exciting programme featuring a greater depth of content and quality.

This programme will provide grounds and open space practitioners across all disciplines – volunteer as well as professional, with a daily feast of FREE knowledge-gathering sessions.
The sessions will take place in four dedicated LEARNING LIVE seminar theatres on the SALTEX show floor, and will include the added bonus of Young Groundsmen’s Conference sessions – which will focus on the needs of young people within the industry and will be hosted by industry experts and the Institute of Groundsmanship’s (IOG) Young Board of Directors.

Seminar Theatre 2 will be hosted by talkSPORT radio presenter Mark Saggers. This theatre will accommodate leading speakers from across the sports turf industry, as well as influential experts in major sports facility and event operation.

Karl Standley (Wembley Stadium) along with Alan Ferguson (FA group head of grounds and estates at St George’s Park) have been confirmed as Keynote speakers in which they will be starting procedures by presenting a seminar entitled ‘Rising to the challenges of modern-day stadia demands.’

Other expert speakers will include: Darren Baldwin head of playing surfaces & estates for Tottenham Hotspur who will provide an insight into the club’s new unique and innovative stadium; Dougie Robertson (West Ham United FC); David Roberts (Liverpool FC); Jonathan Calderwood (Paris Saint-Germain FC) and Reece Watson (Arsenal FC) in a discussion on the past, present and future of groundsmanship; David Roxburgh (Glasgow Rangers FC) and William Watson (Hamilton Academical FC) will explore what the future holds for Scottish football and Weston Appelfeller field manager for Major League Soccer (MLS) team Columbus Crew, will provide an interesting glimpse into groundsmanship in the USA.

From a rugby perspective, Barrie McDermott, head coach of Leeds Rhinos will be on hand to discuss the role of sports ambassadors in turfcare, while Jim Dawson and Alex Latto (BT Murrayfield); Tony Stones (Stade de France) and Keith Kent and Ian Ayling (Twickenham) will reveal the secrets of pitch performance at last year’s Six Nations tournament as well as look ahead to the 2017 event.

Other sessions include Wimbledon’s Neil Stubley (AELTC) who will discuss a new strategy for growing knowledge at grassroots level, while experts on a panel debate will focus on what impact Brexit could have on the industry.

Park keepers, landscapers, contractors, engineers, horticulturalists, those working for local authorities and councils, plus groundsmen who have responsibility for the upkeep of play equipment will benefit from attending sessions in Seminar Theatre 1, where seminar highlights include; Mark Hardy from the Association of Play Industries (API), who will present some thought-provoking evidence that contrasts UK planning policy for play provision with that seen elsewhere in the EU; Simon Rose from West Bletchley Council will reveal how local governments can work with partners to boost the quality of amenity services; the Agricultural Engineers Association (AEA) will stress the importance of adhering to the Sustainable Use Directive (USD) – with particular reference to sprayer testing requirements; Wayne Grills, chief executive of the British Association Of Landscape Industries (BALI) will highlight the importance of the structured card-based LISS/CSCS scheme and will introduce the audience to the BALI-NCF (BALI National Contractors Forum). The ever popular ‘Amenity Forum Question Time’ will also be taking place in this theatre which will see a panel of experts drawn from across the sector responding to audience questions on a range of topics regarding pests and diseases.

Sports turf and playing surfaces will be further explored through sessions within Seminar Theatre 3, with the likes of Steve Chappell, head greenkeeper of PGA Centenary Golf Course at The Gleneagles Hotel who will discuss thatch management in preparation for major golf tournaments; Caroline Davies from the Racecourse Association will provide an insight into grounds staff training at UK racecourses and Giles Roberts, estates manager at St Peters School will explain exactly what independent schools look for in producing the safest sports pitch facilities of the highest quality.

The Rigby Taylor and Top Green-sponsored Young Groundsmen’s Conference, which has been organised by the Institute of Groundsmanship’s Young Board of Directors will also be held in Seminar Theatre 3, and will offer a fantastic opportunity for young people looking to develop a rewarding career in groundsmanship. The Young Board of Directors, along with key industry experts, will be on hand to explore topics such as when is the right time to take on more education, how volunteering can help you stand out from the crowd and advances in turf care technology and how best to use it. It will also be a good opportunity to find out more about grounds management opportunities in different sectors and what they can offer.

Educational sessions in the newly added Seminar Theatre 4, will take a more scientific approach with the likes of Professor Andrew Thorley exploring whether rubber crumb really does pose a health risk; a panel including Alan Ferguson and Jason Douglass from S&C Slatter will be debating whether synthetic turf 2* is a threat to groundsmanship and Simon Gumbrill from Stadium Grow Lighting (SGL) will be looking at the technical advances in stadium management.

Many of the LEARNING LIVE seminars have CPD points connected to them. No pre-booking is required – simply ensure that you arrive promptly to make sure you get a seat.
To view the full LEARNING LIVE programme visit

Visitor registration to SALTEX 2015 is free.