Grounds maintenance Contractor Peter Goddard has a substantial workload looking after school playing fields and local authority sports pitches across the Shepway district of Kent - stretching from Dover and Ashford to Romney Marsh, including no less than 18 different schools.
"Our work is mainly routine maintenance but I am also aiming to educate my clients on the benefits of renovation work using my Verti-Drain," he explains. "School pitches work hard year round, and some are also used in the holidays for caravan rallies and car boot sales, so compaction can be a serious issue."
Peter purchased his Verti-Drain 7215 in 2009 from Lister Wilder, looking to expand his renovation service, and he admits that while he has achieved excellent results, it can be hard to convince hard-pressed school boards or local authority committees to invest in their pitches. "Schools and councils have limited budgets, and they can take some persuading to try a new operation. But where the Verti-Drain has been used regularly, we have achieved excellent results."
One example is Folkestone Rugby Club, whose pitches were constructed relatively recently but have been troubled by compaction. "The four pitches take a couple of days to Verti-Drain thoroughly, so the club has had to invest in my time, but real progress has been made in alleviating compaction and promoting growth," Peter explains.
At 1.5m wide, the Verti-Drain 7215 is the ideal size for a contractor such as Peter - it is compact enough to transport between jobs but offers plenty of output - and is well matched with his 40hp Kubota tractor.
It has also proved highly versatile, working with half inch and 3/4 inch tines and at a range of depths. "The half inch tines are ideal for renovating cricket squares at the end of the season, and at the other end of the scale on rugby pitches and cricket outfields I can work with 3/4 inch tines to 10in deep," he comments. "You need to know your ground however - in this area the soil can be very thin and it is easy to reach the sand underneath. Timing is also crucial as the clay soils can dry out very quickly."
Peter adds that the Verti-Drain is very easy to set up and adjust between jobs and for different applications. "Build quality was a big selling point and the machine has not disappointed; we have also seen the value of fitting genuine replacement tines when they are needed."
The Verti-Drain is seen as a long term investment by Peter, working about 100 hours a year which he hopes will increase as customers see the benefits of the decompaction that it can offer. "It is a two year project to improve a pitch, but then the results are clear to see, so even in these difficult economic times it is a very worthwhile operation for schools and sports clubs," he comments.
Image: David Guy of Lister Wilder(left) and Peter Goddard (right)