Berwick-upon-Tweed has become a boomtown for sales of the S500 Powered Spiker from Dennis. The grounds care equipment manufacturer has received a spate of orders for the versatile machine from no less than four sports clubs in the Northumberland town, who between them have bought five.
The machines are being used by three bowls greenkeepers, namely Jim Sim from Berwick Bowling Club, Ian Hollway of Tweedmouth Bowling Club, and John Renton from Spittal Bowling Club. Completing the quartet is Craig Wilson of Magdalene Fields Golf Club, which has bought two S500s.
Each club uses the machine weekly to keep their greens in perfect condition. The lightweight unit makes slits in the turf to improve penetration of air, water and fertiliser. This discourages thatch build-up, improves drainage and maximises the benefits of top-dressing and overseeding operations. It also improves soil bacterial and micro organism activity.
Jim Sim, who undertakes greenkeeping duties on a voluntary basis at Berwick Bowling Club, sums up the experiences of all the users when he describes the S500 as "achieving excellent results, allowing air and nutrients into the soil and invigorating the turf. We used to have a thatch problem here, but the machine has substantially reduced it - in fact, we are raising mowing heights to slow the green down!"
Jim has considerable greenkeeping experience, having worked professionally for golf courses in Berwick, Kendal and on Wearside, so he recognises and appreciates efficient machinery.
Another innovative feature is the machine's integral turntable. This enables 90 or 180 degree turning and, together with the unit's detachable transport wheels, facilitates use in wet conditions without risk of turf damage. "This is a really brilliant idea," says Jim Sim. "It makes the S500 really easy to handle and, because it enables tight turns, we can aerate the entire green more efficiently."
Extending its versatility, the competitively priced S500's spiking reel can be replaced by a Bray seed slotting reel, which makes flat-bottomed seeding slots at a controlled depth for optimum germination.
Power comes from a 3.5hp engine and the S500 has a working width of 20in (500mm). An adjustable nylon brush strip is fitted behind the slitting reel, which removes worm casts, sweeps in grass seed and achieves an aesthetically pleasing finish.
A particularly striking feature of the Dennis S500 is the intensiveness of its operation, creating holes in approximately 3% of the treated area for maximum effectiveness. During use, the surface is also lifted slightly, which has been shown to help create a level green. If the turf is mown immediately after spiking, play can take place straight away.
Photo from left to right
: Jim Sim, Greenkeeper at Berwick Bowling Club, Ian Hollway, Greenkeeper at Tweed Mouth Bowling Club and John Renton, Greenkeeper at Spittal Bowling Club.