The environmentally-friendly grounds care practices being adopted by Cardiff University are being recognised this year by the Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) Industry Awards as the university’ grounds team is shortlisted for a major nationwide accolade – the Ransome’s Environmental and Ecology Strategy Award.

The IOG awards highlight the high standards of volunteer and professional groundsmanship, from grassroots to professional stadia level. Independent judging at each venue will now take place and the winners will be announced Oscars-style at the IOG Industry Awards dinner by host Mark Saggers from talkSPORT radio at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole, on Wednesday 31st October.

Working on Cardiff University’s established Sports Fields site, the team of nine members are continually improving the environmental footprint there by creating an environmental area and adopting more environmentally-friendly practices.

Their experimental approach is important because with 5,000 visitors a month and 2,500 fixture hours each year, the team must manage its time carefully.

However, the environmental practices so far adopted include leaving a field margin uncut and adopting a wider buffer zone when spraying selective chemicals, which also saves money by reducing the tractor time required to cut and the amount of chemicals used.

An important task has been the transformation of a difficult-to-mow area on the edge of the fields into an environmental haven. After contractors felled a group of old trees, the logs were set along the edge to provide a habitat for invertebrates and a ‘run’ for wildlife.

The area has also been over-seeded with hardy perennial wildflower seeds and plant shrubs, and team members have built bat boxes (from old pallets) which have been hung on a tree at the edge of the area. The team has also placed a refugium for reptiles and dug a small pond to encourage aquatic life, and to provide water for birds and mammals.

Next on the agenda is the ‘Great Bluebell Project’ which will see 2,000 native bluebell bulbs planted, and it is anticipated that the bluebells (and Lilly-of-the-valleys) once naturalised into the field margins, will further improve the area. In future years the team is also considering seeding the pond area with water soldiers and frogbit.

Cardiff University is contesting the Ransome’s Environmental and Ecology Strategy Award with Forest Green Rovers FC, Gloucestershire.

Organised by the IOG – it is the leading membership organisation for everyone involved in the management of sports pitches, landscape and amenity facilities. The annual awards also embrace categories of entry covering sport, young people and the environment. Visit com for further details.

The 2018 IOG Industry Awards are sponsored by AELTC (All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club), AMS (Automated Managed Services), Cub Cadet INFINICUT, DLF Trifolium, ECB (England & Wales Cricket Board), Growth Products, Headland Amenity, John Deere, Johnsons Sports Seed, Kubota, LTA (Lawn Tennis Association), the Premier League, Ransome’s, Redexim Charterhouse, RFU (Rugby Football Union), Rigby Taylor, SISGrass, SCH Supplies, SGL, Sport England, GrassMaster (Tarkett Sports), The FA (The Football Association), Top Green and Toro.