Embracing electric and improving efficiency were two of the standout reasons why Hartpury College and University turned to John Deere when it needed a new fleet of machines to help maintain a varied and challenging site.
Located in Gloucestershire, the 360-hectare campus is home to both Hartpury College and Hartpury University. Traditionally, the latter has been best known for its agricultural and land-based subjects, but in recent years the site has developed cutting-edge sports facilities, alongside the world's largest equine educational facility.
The grounds team made the decision to switch providers when the challenge of maintaining the site proved too much for their existing kit.
"The machines were fine but we thought they would save us time, when in reality they were costing us more time and the efficiency wasn't there," Matthew Newman, Grounds and Sports Turf Manager at Hartpury says.
And both saving time and maximising efficiency are essential on a site with so many different demands.
With eight grass pitches for football and rugby, two synthetic pitches, a nine-hole pitch and putt, a golf range, a short game practice area and a multitude of amenity grounds, the challenge of maintaining the site calls for the very best equipment.
"Organising personnel to cover the site is a challenge as it's so big," Matthew says. "It's not easy because we're dealing with nature. But we need to provide an excellent service so that our students' experience is exactly what it should be."
"They need top quality pitches to play on. And we want the grounds to look the very best they can, because that's how we advertise the college - when people drive down the main drive, we want them to think to themselves 'I want to come here'."
Tied into a deal with another machinery manufacturer, Matthew didn't think they would be able to change the fleet until he consulted Phil Taylor, Turf & Commercial Area Sales Manager for the Tallis Amos Group, the local John Deere dealer.
Phil already had a close relationship with the team at Hartpury so, when they approached him to demo a John Deere TE Gator, he was able to explain how he could help them leave their current finance package and purchase new kit on a five-year lease, all while providing them with the backup from a dealership they desperately needed.
"We have improved the quality of the pitches and saved the operators a huge amount of time by mulching and not collecting," Phil says.
"We went to Tallis Amos and the relationship blossomed - we have a really good association with them," echoes Matthew. "I know that if we are really up against it and a machine is down, that I can ring Tallis and if they can lend us another machine they will. This is by far the best relationship I've had with a manufacturer or supplier over the past 10 years and hopefully it will continue."
Matthew is also as enthusiastic about the new kit they're now using on site.
"We've got mulching mowers now so the efficiency is better than it's ever been," he explains. "The 8800 is by far the best mower we've ever had."
"We've changed from diesel gators to electric gators; we started moving to electric for our smaller kit about six years ago when we changed to electric strimmers, followed by our blowers and hedge cutters."
In total, Hartpury has purchased six TE Gators, one 8800A surrounds mower, one 4066R tractor on galaxy turf tyres and a second 4066R on standard tyres with a 440R Loader, two Z994R with a 60" cutting deck and one 220SL greens mower.
Tallis Amos also supplied two robotic mowers, a tine aerator, four cylinder mowers, slitter and rotary deck roller mower.
"The choice of kit was based on covering what both the sports and grounds teams need because the machines do need to interchange," Matthew explains. "And we based it on how we could support both the environment and maximise efficiencies."
Reducing carbon footprint will play a considerable role going forwards, determining both the kit selected and the way it is used.
"Hartpury stages five international horse events - the issue we had with our diesel Gators in the past was that they were quite noisy," Matthew says." This year we will be using electric - it will be interesting to see how noise-free vehicles are welcomed by the competitors and spectators."