Two specialist machines from the Campey Turf Care Systems stable are playing an invaluable role in keeping Ipswich Town's training pitches in peak condition.
Head Groundsman Alan Ferguson has used a Koro Field Top Maker for more than two years to rejuvenate the heavily used turf at their Rushmere training centre near Ipswich. He recently added the second Koro machine, a Recycling Dresser, to maintain optimum rootzone conditions.
"Using the Field Top Maker has strengthened the sward," says Alan Ferguson. "This has enabled it to withstand the extremes of last winter, which was one of the worst in East Anglia for about 50 years.
"We stage around 300 matches and 1,400 training sessions over the course of a season at the club's Rushmere training centre. Heaven knows what conditions would have been like had we not introduced the Koro Field Top Maker."
For quick turf rejuvenation, the tractor-mounted Koro Field Top Maker has blades that can be set from 4cm (1½in) above ground to 6cm (2¼in) below, to skim off the top layer of soil. At a high setting, the machine will skim the ground to remove irregularities and restore a level surface ready for overseeding. Set lower, the blades remove thatchy soil layers to take out shallow rooting grasses and encourage stronger cultivars. Material is removed by a side conveyor to an adjacent trailer.
Alan Ferguson's latest addition, the Koro Recycling Dresser, is often used in tandem with the Field Top Maker. Powered by a tractor, it features two sets of blades. These break up compacted soil to depths of up to 20cm (7¾in) and then recycle material from below the surface as a fine top-dressing. This enhances drainage characteristics and leaves an excellent tilth. Because the existing soil is 'recycled', less material has to be imported to site, saving time and money.
Alan Ferguson, winner of last season's Championship Groundsman of the Year Award, believes the two Koro machines will save money as well as boosting turf quality. They will enable a reduction in the number of hollow-coring operations that are needed throughout a season.
Koro machines were invented by Ko Rodenburg, the Parks Superintendent of Rotterdam City Council. Alan Ferguson was able to meet him during a study trip organised by Campey Turf Care Systems, which distributes Koro equipment in the UK. He also learnt about the latest Koro developments.
New attachments for the Field Top maker include a verti-cutter reel, enabling the machine to remove thatch and other unwanted matter.
"With year-round pressures on professional football facilities such as they are today, Koro equipment gives groundsmen effective techniques and solutions to provide the high standards demanded by top players and coaches," says Alan Ferguson.