Amenity Land Services show off their Wares
By Laurence Gale MSc
Well over 60 Groundsmen and sports turf managers attended an open day organised at Wrekin College, Wellington in Shropshire. Even the heavy downpours of rain between demonstrations did not deter their interest in seeing working demonstrations of sports turf maintenance machinery. There was a very interesting mix of visitors ranging from local authorities, golf/bowling club greenkeepers, consultants, contractors, National Trust and Kew Gardens to name a few.
ALS have, over the years, have built up a comprehensive list of turf equipment which they use for maintaining and renovating sports turf facilities. On show were scarifiers, aerators, seeders and top dressers. There was something for every level of turf maintenance - fine turf, bowling, golf, cricket and amenity sports field turf.
Three of the most interesting and innovative machines on show where the newly developed Easy-Spray KSU (Kerb Spraying Unit) CDA weed spraying accessory for road sweepers, the Earthquake Roto-Drainer and the Wiedenmann Terra Spike XF deep aerator.
Easy-Spray KSU CDA Sprayer Accessory
Jonathan Carr from ALS came up with the concept two years ago and has being busy trialing and developing the system. It was first used in the Isle of Man to keep the TT motor bike track clean and free from weeds. The system is now being used by several local authorities.
The design is based around Control Droplet Applicators that can apply herbicide accurately and safely. Bayer Environmental CDA Vanquish herbicide is the product designed to be used in the system. The system is sold as an accessory for kerb side road sweepers and can fit most makes. Schmidt are offering it as a new package for their Swingo Road Sweepers.
The control panel is easy to use offering variable spray widths settings and quick on/off buttons for controlling the amount of chemical being used. The spraying arm can be manually adjusted to operate at several angles to cope with most kerb side conditions.
The cost of the system ranges from £2300-£3000 depending whether you have a single or dual head system. This technology will no doubt improve operator efficiency and reduce the need to carry out two separate operations when undertaking kerb side work.
ALS have already sold a number of systems to local authorities including Bedford, Knowlsey and Redditch Councils who have seen many benefits of using the Easy -Spray KSU sprayers. It was well received by the local authority managers who attended.
Earthquake Roto- Drainer
Again ALS have been busy on the development front. They have added a sand injection system to their highly acclaimed Earthquake linear aerator. This, in effect, has resulted in a new sports pitch drainage application whereby the sand keeps the drainage slots open and functional, allowing water to drain freely down through the soil profile (254mm - the maximum depth of the Earthquake).
This has been achieved with the addition of a secondary hopper that has been specially developed to spread the dried kiln sand evenly across the width of the machine and at the same time through a series of coulters allowing the sand to penetrate deep down into the 20mm width slot being produced.
For the demonstrations they were using a Bathgate Leisure 50 grade kiln dried sand. The hopper has a screw mechanism to move and spread the sand evenly. The sand injection system has been designed to ensure there is no bridging of any sand materials during the injection process.
The machine inserts 8 slits, 20mm wide @ 254mm apart to a maximum depth of 254mm. This equates to around 70 tonnes of sand being required for a single 7500 M2 size football pitch, which takes about a day to complete. The cost of the operation is currently £1.15 per M2 which equates to a total cost of around £8,625 per pitch. The cost includes materials and labour, so it is a relative economical option when compared to other secondary, traditional sand banding techniques.
Based on the demonstration I saw there are several benefits from utilising this system - surface disruption is kept to a minimum, the actual slit is only 20mm wide making it easier for the sward to grass over the slot, the drainage channels are closer together increasing the speed of surface water drainage and, finally, there is no excess soil material to dispose of.
The latest Wiedenmann Terra Spike XF has certainly been well publicised for its speed and efficiency. I was able to see for myself the speed at which this machine could operate, however what amazed everybody at the show was its ability to penetrate the hardest of grounds. Eddie, the Head Groundsman at the college was eager to see if it would penetrate the second team's cricket table without any pause. It punched into the ground effortlessly producing a series of deep aeration holes to a depth of 225mm, some achievement especially as it caused no surface displacement.
Many tried and tested aerators have rarely been able to penetrate a cricket table at this time of the season. Most groundsmen have to wait until mid winter before they can achieve the desired aeration penetration. I am sure Eddie will be keen to see what benefits he will gain from this deep aeration process that was achieved on his square. We may have to wait until next year to find out what the outcome of these actions may be, but I am sure there will be many interested parties eagerly awaiting the results of this demonstration.
The combination of providing a wide range of machinery, products and services on hand, as well has the delicious barbeque food that was on offer, certainly encouraged a good attendance at the open day. Everybody I spoke to enjoyed the day and went away with a better understanding of the merits of good sports turf maintenance and being aware of what is available to achieve their objectives of maintaining and improving natural sports turf facilities.