The Aeration Day at Gay Hill Golf Club was jointly organised by the club's Head Greenkeeper, Paul Woodham, and Jon Lewis, Sales representative for the local Wiedenmann dealer T H White. A number of Midlands based greenkeepers had been invited to see a range of aeration equipment supplied by Wiedenmann UK, together with compact tractors supplied by Iseki and New Holland groundcare.
TH White Grasscare of Redditch supplied all of the equipment, with their staff on hand to demonstrate the equipment. Chas Ayres, sales manager for Wiedenmann UK, was also on hand to provide enthusiastic demonstrations and discussions on the Wiedenmann product range. Jon Lewis states "We wanted to hold an event to help promote our business and confirm our position within golf in the midlands without a focus on sales; we feel this event provided the right balance to get our message over to our customers whilst providing a learning environment".
The weather was glorious and over forty greenkeepers attended.
To help set the scene Laurence Pithie (Turfmaster One), formerly Head of Crown Golf, gave a superb talk on why aeration is the most important task to undertake to maintain plant health. He went on to show how aeration techniques had changed over the years. His depth of knowledge was clearly seen in the vast collection of photographs shown during his presentation.
Laurence stated that aeration is a process that creates more air space in the soil and promotes deeper rooting, thus helping the grass plant to stay healthy. For most greenkeepers it becomes a balancing act between agronomic improvements vs playability and politics.
Good aeration practices also enabled other complementary maintenance tasks to be achieved in respect of applying topdressing, aiding the introduction of fertilisers and wetting agents into the soil profiles.
The delegates were then introduced to David Rae, Director of Wiedenmann UK, who explained the wide range of products the company have developed in recent years.
We were given some interesting facts about the range of aerators the company now manufacture and how they have developed the performance / handling over time to become faster and more user friendly whilst, at the same time, offering the opportunity to fit different size tines on the machines.
The company offer a choice of six Terra Spike aerators - the Greens Terra Spike, Terra Spike Gxi6, Gxi8 HD Terra Spike, Terra Spike XP, Terra Spike XF, and the Terra Spike XD giving the end user a flexible choice. They come in a wide range of working widths.
Starting with greens machines offering two working widths (1.35m -1.6m) the other larger machines offering (1.4, 1.6, 1.8 and 2.1m working widths). Cost of machines begin at around £15,000 for the 1.35m Greens Terra Spike and up to £35,000 for the 2.1m Terra Spike XD8 large outfield spike. The high costs are reflected in the build and design quality. They are extremely well manufactured with emphasis on reliability and performance in mind. These machines are extremely quick and simple to use with good controls for raising and lowering tine adjustments.
Also on show were a range of complementary machines which included the Pro Cast Bulk topdresser and material handling system.
This consisted of a traditional spinning disc topdresser for spreading materials that also had a material handling conveyor belt system attached to help direct materials accurately to areas of need.
The Super 500 Mowing collector machine was impressive with the ability to cut, compress and discharge material very quickly. And, finally, we saw a new brush, rake and blower products. The blower (Whisper Twister ) was extremely quiet and manoeuvrable.
In all there was something for everyone to consider in respect of aeration equipment. The speed and flexibility of the Terra Spikes, in particular, was remarkable. In fact Mick Reece from nearby Kings Norton Golf Course had recently purchased one of the Greens Terra Spikes and was very pleased with its performance.
It was a very full on day with lots of information exchanged between all parties, with many of the delegates going away with a better understanding of what's available in terms of aeration equipment backed up with why it is an essential part of sward maintenance.