Newly purchased equipment from Campey Turf Care Systems is enabling specialist contractor Prunty Contracts of Northern Ireland to maintain the highest quality standards.
Based at Newtownbutler in Co. Fermanagh, and involved in sports ground drainage construction since the 1960s, the company is headed up by founder Joe Prunty. It has a pioneering reputation, having built one of the very first sand-based pitches in 1967, for Portora Royal School in Enniskillen.
The School's pitch was frequently waterlogged and, with help from John Mulqueen of the Agricultural Research Institute, thousands of tonnes of carefully selected sand were incorporated into the rootzone, giving year-round playability. Eventually, the innovative Prunty Mulqueen sand carpet system was developed, and it has been a popular choice ever since.
Prunty Contracts' latest machinery additions are a 2m Koro Field Top maker and a 2.25m Koro Recycling Dresser. Campey Turf Care Systems are UK distributors for the Koro range, which was invented by Ko Rodenburg, Parks Superintendent with Rotterdam City Council, who sought more efficient turf renovation machines.
"I saw the Koro equipment at the BTME 07 exhibition in Harrogate in January," says Joe Prunty. "I met Ko Rodenburg on the Campey stand and could see that the machines were remarkably innovative."
Shortly afterwards a working demonstration was held and Joe ordered the machines, which were delivered personally and commissioned by Managing Director Richard Campey.
The tractor-mounted Koro Field Top Maker has blades that can be set from 4cm (1½in) above ground to 6cm (2¼in) below, to remove the top layer of soil. At a high setting, the machine fraise mows the ground to remove irregularities and restore a level surface ready for overseeding. Set lower, the blades remove thatch from the top layer and take out shallow rooting grasses and encourage stronger cultivars. Material is removed by a side conveyor to an adjacent trailer.
The Koro Recycling Dresser is often used in tandem with the Field Top Maker. Powered by a tractor, its two sets of blades 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 ready for overseeding. The machine was supplied with a stone screen to remove any stones present.
Joe Prunty is particularly impressed by the Recycling Dresser. "It is fantastic. Everyone today is looking for environmentally friendly techniques, and the machine certainly ticks all the boxes. It recycles sand already present in the rootzone, rather than having to buy and import new material, and this has impressed many of our school and college clients. Costs are kept down, and fewer machines are needed on site."
Prunty Contracts mainly serves Gaelic football, association football and rugby club clients in Northern Ireland, but goes farther afield as necessary. It employs 25 staff, and well over 400 pitches have been built by the company to date.