FA Premier League football club, Charlton Athletic, has taken delivery of a Massey Ferguson 1531 Hydro compact tractor to help with all aspects of pitch maintenance and preparation at The Valley, the club's impressive stadium in south-east London.
Supplied by MAB Groundscare of Cranbrook, Kent, the 32 DIN hp tractor came with a comprehensive set of standard features including three-range hydrostatic transmission, twin spool valves, folding roll-bar, independent mid and rear power take-offs and Category 1 three-point linkage with an 1,100kg (2,425lb) lift capacity.
Charlton Athletic's groundsman, Colin Powell, pointed out that the MF 1531 is, in fact, the very first compact tractor to go to work at The Valley. "Previously, I had used a specialist turf maintenance vehicle exclusively for pitch preparation," explained Colin. "However, the aging vehicle was finding it increasingly difficult to satisfy the rigorous demands of Premier League pitch presentation and maintenance, in particular the ability to carry out fast, effective solid tine aeration after every match."
Deciding that a compact tractor would be able to lighten considerably his present and future workloads, Colin looked at several makes before settling on the MF1531 Hydro. "A number of factors persuaded me to go for the Massey Ferguson tractor," he said. "It has great all-round visibility, good lift capacity, a high power-to-weight ratio and I know that I can rely on first-class dealer support. The price was also very competitive."
Put to work immediately with an existing 1.5m reciprocating tine aerator, the MF1531 Hydro showed Colin within minutes what he had been missing. "The aerator is no longer a handful to power or to raise and lower," he commented. "As a result, I am now able to aerate the pitch comfortably after every game. The improvements produced in surface drainage has enabled the frequency of complementary deep-tine aeration treatments to be cut from six-weekly to every three months, cutting our contractor's bills by 50 per cent,"
Although pitch aeration and grooming are the principal tasks for the new tractor during the playing season, Colin points out that he is planning to use the MF1531 through the year for other jobs carried out previously by hand. These include spraying, fertiliser spreading and transporting tools and pitch maintenance materials quickly to all parts of the stadium.
"What's particularly pleasing is that the tractor is able to carry out pitch reparations without leaving any tell-tale surface marking, even in quite wet weather," he said. "In a very short time, the MF1531 has become an essential member of my team, a factor that is appreciated also by the club."
Charlton Athletic FC 1:
Charlton Athletic's Groundsman, Colin Powell, at the wheel of the club's new MF 1531 Hydro compact tractor. Pictured with Colin are David Broad (left) of Massey Ferguson's Grounds Care division, and Mark Brown from supplying dealer, MAB Groundscare.
Charlton Athletic FC 2:
The light tread of the MF1531 tractor allows pitch maintenance and preparation to be carried out at The Valley without surface marking, even in wet weather.