La Grande Mare gets relief with Foley

La Grande Mare gets relief with Foley: For La Grande Mare course manager, Rick Hamilton, relief grinding is what it’s all about when it comes to reel maintenance, so when he had his pick of grinders, he opted for the Foley Company Accu-Pro 633 with Accu-Touch 3 Control (ATC).

Rick first used a Foley grinder 30-years ago while working in Asia, and over the three decades that followed has used several manufacturers while a consultant. However, he has remained impressed by the principles Foley has stuck to and how they have developed their machines to make them user friendly and deliver consistent results.

La Grande Mare gets relief with Foley

La Grande Mare gets relief with Foley

“The main reason I stayed with Foley was to do with the principles of relief grinding. They have such excellent relief grinders, and although other manufacturers have good machines, but they don’t relief grind at the same level, and for me, that’s what it is all about,” he explained. Foley has always kept to the principles of that, and it’s something I believe is essential in maintaining a good quality reel and delivering and retaining the sharpest cut ; you have to relief grind.

“Because it’s an important part of maintaining the reel I wanted to make sure we could always grind when we needed to, and that’s what made the ATC so important. We don’t have a full-time mechanic, and I want all my guys to get involved. I’m a fully qualified engineer and greenkeeper, so I’ve done a lot of the maintenance work since I’ve joined here and I’m teaching the team. Having machines like this that are automated means once they’ve all been trained up, everything is programmed in and is easy for them to step in and grind.

“You get the same finish and quality every time because the machine is programmed to do that. The inputs are all the same, and the results will be the same, and we want consistency.”

The ATC system provides a step by step tutorial for new technicians, while more experienced operators can use the system straight away to tell the machine what they’re working on and it’ll do the rest. Automatic placement features, the Accu-Reel Selector and Cylinder Height Stop, automatically locate the reel for a fast and easy spin and relief grind in one set-up and work with the pre-set relief angles to provide hands-free relief grinding.

To get Rick and his team set up on the machine, Ian Robson from Foley Company’s UK distributor, ProSportUK Ltd, went to Guernsey to install the grinder and provide training for Rick’s team. Following the session, the entire team could use the grinder, with the results showing on the course.

La Grande Mare gets relief with Foley

La Grande Mare gets relief with Foley

“Ian from ProSportUK was amazing, the guy really knows his stuff, and the training was excellent,” Rick said. “My staff picked it up really quickly, and they were extremely impressed with the result, and they actually enjoyed grinding and doing the job, which is particularly important. Some guys who aren’t so mechanically inclined tend to shy away, and one of my guys who isn’t so mechanically minded found it very straight forward and easy to operate.

Now, they understand the machine, and they can see the result on the greens when they go out and see the mower cutting. Even to that point, when they came back in with the mower and re-checked the cut and reset all the settings, they couldn’t believe how good it was and how long the quality of the cut lasted.”

To experience the difference of the Accu-Pro 633 or other Foley Company models, contact ProSportUK Ltd at prosportukltd@gmail.com

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Time to do things differently?

Time to do things differently?: With the world’s oldest golf courses being almost exclusively links courses it is no coincidence that very sandy materials have traditionally been used for the construction and refurbishment of coastal and inland golf courses across the world. 

Sand provides a firm, level and well drained playing surface. Because it is inert it does not hold onto nutrients or water and this allows greenkeepers to manufacture the environment required through the addition of artificial fertiliser and the introduction of water through irrigation.

Time to do things differently?

Time to do things differently?

Notwithstanding the unprecedented, and unexpected, positive impact of the current pandemic on the global environment, our climate continues to change. For some time, scientists and consultants working in the industry have been looking at how golf course construction and refurbishment could be done differently in the future, using materials that are better suited to work with the vagaries of the climate, have a less detrimental impact on our environment, and reduce annual costs.

The use of soil and soil-based products to construct, refurbish and maintain tees, bunkers and green surrounds is proving increasingly popular with greenkeepers and golf course consultants who have been encouraged by STRI research, feedback from scientists, and industry case studies and testimonials.

A good soil is a mixture of mineral particles – sand, silt and clay – water, nutrients – predominantly nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium – organic matter, air and living organisms. ‘Virgin’ or ‘as dug’ natural topsoil as a construction material for shaping course features, tees, bunkers etc. is neither sustainable nor reliable.

Not only are the world’s soil resources being depleted at an alarming rate but virgin soil is also a ‘take it or leave it’ material that may lack the right balance of the constituents listed above, affecting its performance.

British Sugar Topsoil products are sustainable, being derived from the prime arable soils that adhere to the sugar beet brought in to British Sugar factories. The soil is washed from the beet and collected in settlement ponds before being conditioned and blended.

To comply with the British Standard for Topsoil BS3882:2015, each batch is sampled and sent to a UKAS and MCERTS accredited laboratory for a range of tests.

Topsoil products have also undergone comprehensive replicated trials at the STRI.

Good grass establishment and growth, particularly in periods of drought, and the recovery of the sward following periods of heavy rain, make soil-based materials for course construction and refurbishment a very attractive proposition.

The clay component in soil holds on to nutrients (N, P, K, Mg) and the microbes present in the organic matter make for a healthy soil, resulting in good grass establishment and growth and minimising the requirement for additional and expensive inorganic fertiliser. Soil also has a considerably slower percolation rate than sand and this increased waterholding capacity means that areas are less reliant on irrigation. And in terms of course design, soil’s plasticity allows the creation of more interesting and challenging contours and features.

With all that said, maintenance remains key to the successful use of soil products and, where used, the ground must still be aerated on a regular basis to prevent compaction and puddling.

Perhaps, in this period of unexpected lockdown, there is time to look at doing things differently, working with the natural world’s own resources in a sustainable, cost-efficient and environmentally beneficial way.

At Bury St Edmunds Golf Club Consultant Peter Jones, of Peter Jones Associates, selected British Sugar Topsoil’s Landscape20 topsoil for the re-shaping and re-contouring of the entire green complex. 120 tonnes were spread at a depth of 15-20cm over the course’s natural sandy loam soil, which had been de-compacted and levelled using a purpose-built rake.

Finally, a dwarf perennial rye grass turf was laid over the Landscape20. Throughout the entire operation the putting surface of each green was left intact.

Peter chose Landscape20 because of the success he had had with it on similar projects: “The properties of Landscape20 allow you to create the shapes needed around bunkers and greens, and the naturally occurring nutrients within it result in great turf growth.”

At Peterborough Milton Golf Course, 13 bunkers were re-shaped and five tees levelled with 174 tonnes of British Sugar TOPSOIL’s Sports&Turf topdressing prior to re-turfing. “Sports&Turf is by far the best product I have used in my years as a greenkeeper and I am delighted with how easy it is to use. The drainage and percolation rate it gives is second to none,” said Manager Steve Smail.

Dealing with global extremes

Dealing with global extremes: STRI’s head of sports surface technology, Dr Stephen Baker, considers the problems of turf management in some of the more extreme climates that he has visited in his 38-year career.

Working conditions

Grass selection and maintenance is very dependent on climate, and in many parts of the world there is not the relatively benign climate for turf grass growth that we experience in the United Kingdom.

Whilst there can be significant issues with snow and frost in the winter, average monthly temperatures in the UK typically range from around 0°C to 20°C and this is a relatively comfortable range for grass growth for most of the year.

Dealing with global extremes

Dealing with global extremes

Contrast this with some of the sixty countries that I have worked in. Parts of Russia or Scandinavia where the average minimum January temperature of -15°C to -20°C (and lows of -40°C) and average maximum monthly temperatures of 38°C to 43°C in India, Morocco and Saudi Arabia, with peak temperatures sometimes exceeding 50°C, made for some interesting working conditions.

Similarly, in the UK we have a relatively reliable rainfall and without the very high intensities experienced in some tropical areas.

Annual average rainfall in the UK typically ranges from around 700-1250mm per year for the more heavily populated parts of the country where most sports facilities are found.

In contrast annual rainfall can be as low as 100mm in Saudi Arabia. At the other extreme, average monthly totals can reach over 300mm in Manaus in the Amazon Basin in Brazil or in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and massive 840mm in Mumbai, India. It should be noted that these are just average values and at times the temperature range and rainfall differences can be much greater. It is inevitable that extreme variations in temperature and rainfall will increase the challenge of producing high quality sports surfaces.

Low temperatures

The map, above, shows the range of climates around the world from the perspective of turf management.

Each of the climate areas has a major influence on selection of the appropriate grass species in relation to the ideal temperature range. However, there is also a wide range of other issues such as drought and salinity tolerance, the sports to be played and the potential standard of maintenance, including irrigation demand.

Fortunately, a very wide range of grass species are available, and they can be split into two very different groups depending on their basic biology: the cool-season grasses and warm-season species. Cool-season grasses would include species such as smooth-stalked meadow-grass (Poa pratensis) and perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne), which are used on areas of more intensively used turf such as football or rugby pitches, and finer fescue (Festuca spp.) or bent species (Agrostis spp.) that may be suitable on areas such as golf courses.

For areas of extremely low temperatures it is inevitable that appropriate cool-season grasses will be used, but there are several aspects of management that may need to be considered:

• Minimum temperatures that are likely to be encountered
• The length of the growing season, in particular how much of the playing season coincides with periods of minimum growth
• Duration of snow cover and the need for snow removal. Snow cover is indeed often used as an insulating blanket to protect the turf during the coldest months of the year, but there can be significant challenges in clearing the snow and making the surface ready for the start of the new playing season
• The potential risks for disease, especially under snow cover or during periods of limited growth
• The opportunities for pitch renovation. In the more extreme climates for example of North America, Scandinavia and Russia the main playing season will coincide with spring, summer and early autumn when growing conditions are generally better. However, this may limit the amount of time available for renovation, as for example end-ofseason work would coincide with lower temperatures thus preventing effective grass establishment

As well as selection of suitable grass types there are several management options that may improve the standard of turf in very cold climates.

Undersoil heating and pitch covers are generally essential for the major stadiums in such climate areas and, as latitude and cloud cover have a major influence on light levels, most stadiums in these colder climates would also need supplementary lighting to extend the period of grass growth.

Maintaining a high standard of grass cover can also be a big issue in these colder climates. Annual meadow-grass (Poa annua) is very well adapted to the colder, wetter climates such as Iceland or the west coast of Norway.

Without the possibility of extensive end of season renovation there are only limited opportunities to establish preferred species, so annual meadowgrass tends to increase rapidly with time. To maintain a reasonable balance of grass species there is a need for regular over sowing throughout the summer months, with ideally a break in the middle of the playing season to allow a short renovation window.

High temperatures

High temperatures cannot be isolated from rainfall and there tends to be two main extremes where high temperature and rainfall interact: (1) high temperature but low rainfall in desert or semi-arid environments, (2) high temperature, high rainfall areas, although these can have a distinct wet season and a dry season which will have a major impact on turf management. For the monsoon season in Mumbai, India, the four months between June and September have a combined average of about 2250mm rainfall, while the four months from January to April have a combined rainfall of less than 5mm.

The main factor influencing grass quality in hot climates with either low annual rainfall or seasonal drought, will be water supply through irrigation and a good quality irrigation supply will be essential. For high standard stadiums water will generally be delivered using an appropriate pop-up irrigation system, but for more general, lower maintenance areas techniques such as subsurface irrigation may also have to be considered to improve water conservation.

Grass selection is normally based on warm-season species such as bermudagrass (Cynodon spp.), seashore paspalum (Paspalum vaginatum) or various Zoysia species, but there may be other considerations.

Dealing with global extremes

Dealing with global extremes

In the absence of cloud cover, nighttime temperatures in some desert climates can be very low giving a risk of dormancy of the warm-season grass. In some wetter tropical climates, particularly where there is significant photochemical air pollution in major urban areas, light levels might be insufficient to maintain healthy grass growth at certain times of the year, especially in stadium environments.

A further factor compounding issues of heat stress in many of the drier climates is the quality of the irrigation water and the potential build-up of salts in the soil. Assessment of water sources for irrigation becomes a major item in turf design in such areas and regular excess irrigation may be needed to flush accumulated salts out of the rootzone.

Very hot, wet areas also have some very specific challenges: these include high intensity rainfall (which I’ll discuss later) but also high rates of biologically activity and this can have particular challenges with disease, insect pests and weed invasion.

Management of the turf in the hottest parts of the world must consider all these issues. There are however some management techniques that can also restrict temperature stress, including:

• air circulation systems by which cooler area can be pushed from lower in the soil profile to cool the grass at the surface
• syringing with light applications of irrigation water to dissipate heat by evaporation
• shade covers mounted well above the grass surface to restrict the incoming solar radiation
• installing cooling pipes, reversing the principle of undersoil heating.

Transition zones

Some of the biggest challenges with grass selection occur in transition zones where there are extreme ranges of temperature. These include Mediterranean type climates in parts of Europe, South America, South Africa and Australia but also some of the continental extremes, where winter temperatures can be as low as -30°C, while summer temperatures may hit 35°C.

Under these circumstances a single grass type is very unlikely to be able to tolerate the annual temperature range: warm-season grasses will go brown and dormant in the winter and cool-season grasses are likely to be lost to heat stress and disease in the summer period.

Good management is obviously essential in such climates, but inevitably more than one grass species will be required, with the warm-season grass used in the summer and then being oversown with a cool-season grass to give the colour and performance required for the winter months.

Rainfall

It is impossible to provide a good quality turf surface without adequate irrigation and issues of turf management in hot, dry climates have already been discussed above. However, there are methods to improve the water retention properties of sports turf rootzones using various organic and inorganic amendments. The type and concentration of these amendments is critical – too little amendment and the surface may remain dry and hard. Excess amendment can lead to a soft playing surface, with shallow rooting that is easily damaged by play. Laboratory testing and a very good understanding of requirements for the growing medium is essential to help formulate the most suitable rootzone characteristics for a specific climate zone.

Very high rainfall is also an issue, as most sports surfaces rely on a relatively dry, stable surface for optimum playing conditions. Well-constructed rootzones, usually based on a high percentage of a suitably selected sand, are generally essential to give adequate drainage performance.

However even a well-constructed rootzone with a drainage rate of say 150mm/hr will not be able to cope with the most extreme rainfall events. In such circumstances it may be necessary to construct a turf facility with greater slopes to encourage surface runoff of water.

Dealing with global extremes

Dealing with global extremes

Technology can also help – many of the subsurface air circulation systems used for temperature control can be used to generate sufficient suction within the soil to help remove extreme rainfall from the surface.

Wind

Excess wind may sound more like a complaint of the digestive system than a problem faced by most sports turf managers, however there can be situations where high winds (or indeed a lack of air movement) can be a factor in sports turf management.

Aside from destructive events such as hurricanes, the most likely problems of high wind would be on exposed sites where irrigation can be affected.

If there are strong prevailing or drying winds, evaporation rates are likely to be higher and therefore water consumption greater. However, it is the effects on water distribution that may be the greatest challenge, as the effect on the uniformity of water application can be significant.

This may necessitate changes in the basic design of the irrigation system with for example changes in the specification for the pop-up heads or sprinklers at closer spacings than on a less exposed site. It will also increase the need for careful monitoring to ensure that there are no dry areas that are being missed and for selective hand watering to supplement moisture levels on any drier areas.

Lack of significant air movement should also not be under-estimated. In modern stadium environments the surrounding stands may restrict air movement to the extent that drying of the surface is compromised and the risk of disease and surface algae may increase.

Where there is temperature stress this can be even more important, for example with cool-season grasses growing at times of elevated summer temperatures. Under these circumstances the use of fans around the pitch to help air movement can be a very important factor in reducing turf stress and sustaining a high-quality playing surface.

Modern sports turf management

In the last 40 years the range of available technology has expanded to an unbelievable extent. The understanding of turf construction and management principles has improved, by both technological innovation and research investment. More marginal climates that gave high levels of stress affecting grass development can now have much better-quality turf surfaces, provided that development projects are well designed and constructed and that there are sufficient levels of resources to deal with these climate extremes.

New lawns shown NO MERCY

New lawns shown NO MERCY: Scott MacCallum gets to grips with EGO’s battery powered mower.

As a journalist, I am far more adept at writing about things than actually doing them. A theatre critic cannot be expected to deliver an emotion drenched soliloquy, nor could you rely on a sports writer to produce a smooth Cruyff turn.

New lawns shown NO MERCY

New lawns shown NO MERCY

And so we come to me and lawn mowers.

I must admit I’m what Capability Brown would be to feature writing, or Shakespeare to designing a Chelsea Garden. Not the best.

However, we have three lawns on our recently-acquired home and, once there is a little heat in the air, that grass does grow.

So, I was delighted when EGO asked me to road test their latest battery powered mower – the 42cm cordless self propelled mower – which joined the EGO stable earlier this year.

The excitement when the delivery van dropped off the large box was palpable, and, I’ll admit it now, tinged with a little apprehension. How easy would it be to transform the contents of the box into a working lawnmower?

The answer? Simple! Even a man of my limited practical means had it up and running in 15 minutes – a more proficient human being would have achieved the same feat in five, but I still saw it as both a feather in my cap and that of the EGO.

The mower is beautifully powerful and given that not only was it my first outing with the mower, it was my first attempt at circumnavigating our new lawns. Now I can tell you that while the intricate scallops and dainty satellite flower beds looked absolutely superb on the Estate Agent particulars, when it comes to lawns, I’d far rather have straight up and down squares and rectangles. So much easier.

However, we are where we are and while my first two cuts saw a degree of trial and error on the part of the driver, by the third cut I considered myself to be pretty capable. Those early attempts were characterised by my efforts to control the throttle. The self-propelled element is absolutely wonderful, but a brain has to become acquainted with the fact that the mower won’t stop until you released the handles on the top of the steering console.

I haven’t told my wife yet, but the odd area of the border where the shrubs and flowers are a little more dishevelled and scruffy – I’d be inclined to use the word “gouged”, are not the legacy of the previous owners, or next door’s dog, but my failure to adapt quickly enough to the self-propelled nature of the EGO.

It can run away with you a little and if one of the wheels slips off the side of the lawn it can leave an impact, in most parts negative, on the vegetation.

But once I had mastered both the mower and the lawn I truly was poetry in motion. The speed is controlled by a very simple dial in the middle of the console and this can be ramped up on a straight run – our lawns do possess a few – and reduced when it comes to the more twisty bits.

At 42 cm wide it is a nice balance of wide enough to reduce your mowing mileage and narrow enough to negotiate tighter spaces.

The grass box, part hard plastic, part fabric, is easily accessible and roomy – is that a word you can use for a grass box? A full box roughly fills a standard black bin bag and it is extremely simple to remove and reattach.

All that power I mentioned takes a little bit or servicing and I was pleased that I had been sent an additional 56 volt 5ah battery to complement the 2.5ah battery which came with the mower.

Our grass take around 40 minutes to cut and that would account for the entire life of the smaller battery or around three fifths of the larger – the battery indicator is split into well illuminated fifths so you can see how much you have left – so having a spare battery, which you can have charged and ready to step in, is extremely useful.

I have now used the mower for around half a dozen cuts and it has not caused me a single problem. I’d go so far as to say that it has made cutting the grass a real pleasure and I’ve not gone looking for an excuse for not mowing the lawn – a weather forecast showing even a slight chance of rain would previously have been enough for me to shelve the idea.

I’m certainly sold on battery power. My previous mower was a fine electric powered model and unwrapping from clothes poles and deciding which was the better option – a left or right turn to avoid running over the cable were all part of the experience.

So, I might not be the finest lawn mower man in the country but, at least, I’ve been able to come to some sort of definitive conclusion as a lawn mower tester!

Bionema secures Innovate UK grant

Bionema secures Innovate UK grant: Bionema Ltd, a leading UK-based biotechnology company, has received a grant from Innovate UK to support the company’s continual development of its bioinsecticide microencapsulation formulation, which delivers an effective alternative to chemical pesticides.

This additional £98,000 Continuity Grant complements a initial £1.0 million in funding support from Innovate UK, the national funding agency that investing in science and research in the UK, and from the Welsh Government’s SMART Cymru.

Bionema secures Innovate UK grant

Bionema secures Innovate UK grant

Dr Minshad Ansari, a world-leading biopesticide expert who leads Bionema’s research team, says: “The funding is helping the company to continue the development of its microencapsulation formulation and delivery systems, which is crucial to the development of effective biopesticide products.

Effective control of pests, such as western flower thrips, aphids, whitefly and spider mites, require a robust formulation for targeted delivery. Currently, these pests are controlled by conventional chemical insecticides but some of them have now developed product resistance, while other products have been removed from the market, due to their harmful impact on the environment and human health. Biopesticide formulation and its targeted delivery is a more stable and sustainable approach for controlling these pests that are causing billions of dollars of crop damage on a world-wide scale.”

The outcome of this Continuity Grant-funded project will be a unique manufacturing process of proven microencapsulation formulation technology for next-generation bioinsecticide control. The new microencapsulated products will be registered and distributed across Europe, the United States and Canada. Currently, trials are in place with several multi-national chemical companies and distributors to commercialise the technology.

We’ve been working for almost five years on biopesticide formulation development,” Dr Ansari says. “We’ve encapsulated a number of fungal spores in a capsule form that can be delivered to plant surfaces for targeting soft body insects. We just need to adapt that to work for this project.

The encapsulated formulations also control release mechanisms, which can last longer and retain moisture on the leaf surface for targeting small insects such as spider mites. The overall goal is to demonstrate the robustness and stability of this formulation to see positive results in different environments.”

The project team includes formulation experts from the School of Chemical Engineering at the University of Birmingham and at Bionema. In addition to Bionema’s research, development and commercial teams, Silsoe Spray Application Unit is also testing the product’s large-scale applicability and Applied Insect Science, regulatory service is involved for the registration of this product.

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John Deere sells SABO to Mutares

John Deere sells SABO to Mutares: John Deere has announced that it has signed an agreement to sell SABO Maschinenfabrik to Mutares SE & Co. The transaction is contingent on regulatory approval by the Federal Cartel Office Bundeskartellamt, Germany’s national competition regulator.

SABO manufactures lawnmowers and other outdoor power products and markets them to homeowners, municipalities, and gardening and landscaping companies. The Gummersbach, Germany-based company was founded in 1932 and has been a subsidiary of Deere & Company since 1991. SABO has approximately 125 employees.

John Deere sells SABO to Mutares

John Deere sells SABO to Mutares

Mutares, based in Munich, is a private equity firm that currently owns 13 companies in the automotive and mobility, engineering and technology, and goods and services industries.

SABO will maintain ownership of its brand assets and its operations in Gummersbach. The company will continue to produce walk-behind lawnmowers and handheld outdoor power products, marketing those machines through its existing network of more than 1100 specialised dealers in Germany, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Slovakia and Switzerland.

Employees, customers, suppliers, dealers and distributors should notice little change in daily operations, according to Deere and Mutares.

“SABO is a leading brand for high quality walk-behind mowers and handheld power products in Europe, and the company is well positioned for growth with its line of battery-powered machines,” said Tim Merrett, John Deere’s Vice President, Turf and Compact Utility Platform.

“However, Deere is shifting its focus to key production systems that will allow our machine technology to be a differentiator. Further investment in walk-behind lawnmowers was no longer a strategic fit for our global business.

“Deere is not exiting the turf care business. John Deere will continue to produce a wide range of lawn and grounds care equipment for residential, commercial and golf course maintenance use,” said Merrett.

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Wimbledon will be greener next year

Wimbledon will be greener next year: Neil Stubley should have been nervously appraising how the grass he and his fellow Wimbledon ground staff had nurtured was faring on the first day of the Grand Slam.

Instead, the head groundsman at the All England Club has seen the “blood, sweat and tears” spent in preparing for the tournament come to nothing.

Wimbledon will be greener next year

Wimbledon will be greener next year

The championships, due to start on Monday, were cancelled for the first time since World War II due to the coronavirus pandemic, meaning Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep were denied the chance to defend their titles.

Stubley said it was surreal to walk around and see his 38 “babies”, as he calls the courts set in 42 acres in the leafy London suburb, not humming with action.

“A lot of blood, sweat and tears has gone in to showcase them,” he told an online press conference.

“But that disappointment is across the (All England) club. We are all very proud of the work we do and how well-received it is across the world.”

The grandly titled head of courts and horticulture at Wimbledon said the grounds felt bizarrely quiet for this time of year, similar to the atmosphere after the players had gone home.

“It is an odd time and the best way to really describe it is you kind of get a strange quiet feeling,” he said.

“I would equate it to having been to a concert — you get that ringing in your ears for a couple of days.”

Stubley said he and his 17 staff plus three temporary workers, reduced from the usual nine, were getting on with the job despite the disappointment of the cancellation.

“Pride pushes you that way to carry on working,” he said. “Of course it is disappointing not to be playing but the bigger picture puts that into perspective.

“As much as we love our job it has to sit in the real world.”

Stubley defended the decision in April to cancel the championships even though other sports have returned, saying it was about much more than the playing surface.

“The grass courts were fine when it was cancelled,” he said. “It is the infrastructure that takes time. It is not a case of saying two weeks out we can play them.

“There is an eight to 10-week spell to get it ready. Come early April in the midst of the pandemic it was untenable.

“Even now with the restrictions in place it would be impossible to hold them.”

Stubley said the ground staff would follow their usual routines and instead aim for next season.

“I always try and get across to people you are not repairing the courts, you are preparing for next season,” he said.

“Come August early September it will be the same process — rip the courts up, re-seed them, grow through autumn and winter and the same prep work for the 2021 championships.”

The groundsman said his most memorable moment at Wimbledon was when Andy Murray won his first Wimbledon singles title in 2013 — becoming the first British male to do so since Fred Perry in 1936.

“To be on centre court for that winning moment is one when the hairs on the back of your neck stand up,” he said.

“Ironically I was looking at Murray’s feet.

“I am always seeing how the courts are performing, so it was not until I looked up and saw he had dropped his racquet I realised he had won match point and the title.”

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Fleet of ISEKI’s for Blundells

Fleet of ISEKI’s for Blundells: ISEKI UK & Ireland, distributors of ISEKI compact tractors and mowers alongside their local dealer MST based in Tiverton, recently sold a fleet of ISEKI machinery into Blundell’s School in Devon.

Amongst all the other tasks you need to get to grips with when starting a new job, Graham Cox at Blundell’s School in Tiverton was also tasked with upgrading the groundcare fleet of machinery, with the aim of it being more economical and cost efficient.  So, following on from what his Estate Bursar Ian Barnes, Deputy Head Groundsperson Richard Hutchings and the grounds team had started, Graham began looking into what was on the market.  Having contacted a number of local dealers ISEKI and MST came up trumps!

Fleet of ISEKI's for Blundells

Fleet of ISEKI’s for Blundells

Graham explains further; “we knew our two previous 36hp tractors needed an increase in power to 50hp in order to run the specialist sports turf equipment around the site. The schools overall strategy is to significantly improve its sports pitches and gardens and it fully supports the development of the team and the equipment necessary to do that.  MST brought out the ISEKI TG6495 IQ on demo for us to try, it was perfect for the jobs we require.  The dual-clutch transmission offers excellent control for when we are aerating, allowing accurate work to be carried out easily no matter who operates the machine.  The drive function is great when towing implements around the site or on the roads allowing us to travel quickly from one job to the next.

“The TG6495 IQ tractor’s are extremely comfortable, especially with the air con cab, which when you are maintaining 110 acres of grassland by verti-draining or mowing this is vital for my staff to avoid fatigue.  In the peak of the season the tractor and operator will be out over 20 hours a week just mowing so the renowned reliability of the ISEKI built tractor along with the ease of use was imperative.  They certainly have a great reputation and I can easily see why.

“We had loader brackets fitted to both TG6495 IQ tractor’s with one loader supplied so the machines are as flexible as possible in their uses here at Blundell’s. The gardeners use the tractor’s with loader for moving bulk material around the site, whilst we use them for grounds maintenance with implements attached.

“As part of the package we also required new ride on mowers for the gardens and fine turf areas.  After trying a variety of manufacturers we found the ISEKI SXG323 to be the quietest, most productive and comfortable.  The 48” deck was a better size and more manoeuvrable than the previous mower we had, allowing a very clean finish even in the smallest of areas.  With a number of large gardens and fine lawns on site the SXG323 collector mower is used extensively to take Blundells to a new level in presentation.  The large 550litre capacity collector with high tip allows us to get around a large number of areas before emptying.  Plus the SXG323 does truly cut and collect leaving a excellent and clean finish every time even in wet conditions which is great for my team to be as productive as possible with less downtime due to the weather.

“The deal also included a TXGS24 23hp tractor which is used on the astroturf pitches and running the SISIS Quadraplay on sports pitches.  It has a surprisingly high lift capacity for its size at 540kg plus it can take a front loader,  back hoe and centre mounted mowing deck if required but we didn’t need this for us.  It is lightweight and manoeuvrable ensuring we can maintain the pitches to the highest standard whilst creating minimal damage to the turf with the tractor.

“Scott Struthers at MST was responsive and very easy to deal with, we had a large range of demos and competitor quotes but MST made the decision simple; quality products at a financially viable cost plus the excellent service and back up provided, they offered the full package.

We have been very lucky, the school has supported the grounds department to enable us to produce top quality playing surfaces and grounds maintenance across the site with the best equipment.  The purchase will pay off for years to come with continued improvement of presentation at the school plus the renowned quality and longevity of the ISEKI equipment.”

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Familiar face returns to Symbio

Familiar face returns to Symbio: Turf managers in the South West of England will note the presence of a familiar face in the region after Neil Carter rejoined Symbio in a sales and advisory role.

Neil has more than 30 years of horticultural experience behind him. RHS qualified, he then completed an HND in Golf Course Management at Cannington College in 1996. A diverse greenkeeping career followed at venues including the Manor House at Castle Combe, Paris International, Dartmouth Golf & Country Club and the London Golf Club. He initially joined Symbio at the turn of the millennium and spent a decade with the Surrey-based soil biology specialists before starting a successful gardening business in his local area.

Familiar face returns to Symbio

Familiar face returns to Symbio

He rejoined the company in March and is looking forward to working with customers in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Dorset, Hampshire and Gloucestershire again. “It’s great to be back, and at an exciting time for Symbio. The team has grown significantly; the breadth of expertise our customers have access to today is incredible. New product research and development has continued and it’s fantastic to see additions such as Symbio Biotabs and Incision join mainstay products like Thatch Eater and compost teas in a portfolio that’s helping turf managers across the country.

I was reassured to see the company ethos completely unchanged. It remains driven by people with a passion for a biological approach that delivers results. It’s also positive to see that through education and networking, many more sports turf managers recognise that healthy soil is essential for sustainable improvements to playing conditions and also for problem solving and that there’s a growing appetite for managing turf with that as a priority.”

Neil can be contacted on 07928 574550 and by email at neil@symbio.co.uk.

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Greenkeeper airlifted to hospital

Greenkeeper airlifted to hospital: The course manager of Pitlochry Golf Club is expected to make a full a recovery after being involved in a terrifying accident on the Perthshire course yesterday.

Stuart Griffiths, 44, was taken by air ambulance to Ninewells Hospital where his injuries are said to be serious but not life-threatening.

Greenkeeper airlifted to hospital

Greenkeeper airlifted to hospital

According to reports, he was trapped under a tractor after getting into difficulties on an embankment.

The Courier reported that the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service dispatched six appliances to the scene shortly after 8am on Thursday morning, with winch lines, cutting gear and a rescue board, while the Scottish Ambulance Service attended with a trauma team and special operations team, as well as the air ambulance.

Fortunately, a tweet from the club’s official Twitter account this morning confirmed that he is recovering well.

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