The true cost of cutting costs?

The true cost of cutting costs?: When a machine is operating at optimum performance and being utilised in the correct conditions, professional groundskeepers or operators can expect to see healthy and pristine looking turf. But performance could be hampered if a mower isn’t properly maintained and that includes the choice of replacement parts.

Currently, we’re in the thick of the core mowing season, and it’s likely that replacement parts will be required to maintain that optimum experience and result.

The true cost of cutting costs?

The true cost of cutting costs?

Here, Franck Pillittieri at The Toro Company, shares some reasons why it’s essential to consider true lifetime value and not just a low price point when it comes to purchasing replacement parts.

“We know that for many in our industry, as in many others, there is a need to try and reduce cost when it comes to maintenance work on equipment. In the current climate especially there is likely to be more pressure than ever to cut costs in the short term – but what is the true cost when the price is lower?

“As a premium manufacturer, our parts are not the lowest price on the market. We offer our customers the Toro Genuine Parts solution for a Genuine performance. Below are the top reasons we recommend buying discerningly when replacing parts in your mower.”

Quality fit

Our Toro Genuine Parts are custom designed for each machine, so when one needs replacing it makes sense to fit a like for like piece. Cost demands though, could lead people to consider a cheaper alternative. However, not only could the lower cost part not fit correctly, but it could also compromise the machine going forward, increasing wear and general run down of the machine.

Durability

Whilst a cheaper price may seem like a great saving at the time, it is likely to prove a false economy in the long run if the part isn’t built to last. Not only may you have to incur the expense of replacing non-genuine parts more often, you also may experience longer downtime for your machine, impacting your productivity.

Safety

With any replacement product that is not designed for the machine there is a risk to the safety of the user and the lifetime of the machine. Often, cheaper replacement parts come from manufacturers who focus more on cost than safety. We, at The Toro Company, place the safety of the users and the performance of the machine at the top of our priorities.

Machine damage

When parts are purchased from a Toro-approved channel partner, the consumer can trust that the channel partner is committed to the care of the machine. We cannot expect this to be true for unrelated suppliers that may offer the cheapest parts on the market. Cheap parts could damage to the machine, resulting in a cost that could counteract any potential savings. Downtime for repairs can also result in lost income. For example, belts and filters go into the core of the equipment, and there is a risk of causing a break down or technical issue by using non-genuine parts.

Time efficiency

If certain parts of the mower are replaced with non-genuine replacements there is a possible impact on the time it takes to complete a job. For example, all Toro blades are engineered for our specific machines to increase efficiency. A replacement blade could be less effective and require more frequent cutting, again incurring more overall costs and decreasing efficiency.

Poor results

There is also the possibility with cheaper parts that you could achieve a poorer cut with your mower. When using cheaper tines, for example, you may damage the turf and have a reduced result.

“At The Toro Company, we offer a high-standard after-service experience in collaboration with our channel partners. This includes 24-48 hour delivery, meaning less downtime for your machine, knowledgeable service technicians if you need help installing parts or require information on your mower, a 90-day warranty for peace of mind, and a guarantee that we are investing in innovation to benefit customers now and in the future.

“So, whilst we appreciate the current situation that many of our customers are in, we encourage everyone to consider the longer-term view for the best outcome for their machines.”

For more information please visit www.toro.com/en.

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Otterbine diffuses the situation

Otterbine diffuses the situation: May was the sunniest calendar month on record and with the way things are going it may well not hold that title for long! So, this year more than any other year, water management specialist Otterbine is advising greenkeepers to be pre-emptive to the challenges hot weather can throw at lakes and ponds.

Water left unattended for long periods of time can very quickly deteriorate, especially as the weather warms up and as it’s predicted this summer will be a hot one – some say reminiscent to that of 2018 – it cannot be underestimated how important it will be to manage water quality.

Otterbine diffuses the situation

Otterbine diffuses the situation

Warm water, plentiful sunlight and an excess of nutrients is a combination that, without a proper water management system in place, can leave lakes and ponds with problems such as algae, aquatic weeds and odours.

Simon Powell, Otterbine business development manager at distributor Reesink Turfcare, explains why it’s vital to implement preventative measures now, he says: “Oxygen depletion or stress situations occur for different reasons, but many lake management issues are related to both the light and heat generated by the summer sun. We understand that for some, water management may not be top of the to-do priority list, but it really does pay dividends to act now before the problems take hold.

“Once a lake has lost its ecological balance and goes into crisis, the costs of restoring the lake increase dramatically. As well as often being more expensive to implement, reactive solutions tend to be less friendly to the environment too.”

Low oxygen levels, combined with minimal circulation, prematurely ages water and throws the natural ecosystem out of balance. Only then do symptoms of poor water quality begin to appear, which as well as algae, weeds and odours, include sludge build up and aquatic life struggles or is killed off.

Simon says: “By increasing oxygen levels and circulating oxygen rich water throughout a lake, water quality can remain high, inhibiting algae, aquatic weeds and unpleasant odours. The most natural water quality management solution is to introduce aeration into a pond or lake to eliminate stagnant water. That’s where Otterbine’s aeration systems can help.”

With Otterbine’s aerating fountains, industrial aerators and diffused air systems and their proven high oxygen transfer rates, you can easily increase the dissolved oxygen levels in your lake or pond, preventing or curing stagnant water, algae build up and bad smells for clean, clear, healthy water. And with Otterbine’s decorative range you can make your lake or pond an appealing beauty spot at the same time.

For more information on Otterbine aerators, contact distributor reesinkturfcare.co.uk

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AEA formally appoint new president

AEA formally appoint new president: Mr Malin is Managing Director of Etesia UK and has been an active member of the AEA for over 14 years.

As President of the AEA Les’ role will be to lead the Board of Directors, while the farm equipment and outdoor power equipment councils and various technical and specialist groups focus on current issues and initiatives.

AEA formally appoint new president

AEA formally appoint new president

He speaks of the unusual circumstances of his appointment and the way forward for the Agriculture and Outdoor Power sectors.

Due to Covid-19 the 2020, the AEA Annual General Meeting was postponed, leading the Association to take the unprecedented step to nominate Mr Les Malin as its President-Elect. Now, however, and following recently introduced changes in legislation, Mr Malin’s role as President of the AEA has been formalised, as the AGM was allowed to be held virtually, with some 30 participants in attendance, as well as the company legal advisors to ensure all was legally binding.

Mr Malin commented on the alternative course of action, “First of all, I would like to thank the AEA Board of Directors for nominating me to be the next President of the AEA. It is, indeed, against a backdrop of very uncertain and difficult times. With COVID 19 now having taken over from Brexit as the focus of everyone in the UK, the work of the AEA has had to adapt like many other businesses and groups.”

Ruth Bailey, CEO and Director General of the AEA said, “It is indeed very strange times. We are delighted, however, to have Les as our President and welcome his knowledge and experience within the industry to guide us through.”

Les’ early background is rooted in agriculture, where in his early years he worked on a mixed farm and would also use the farm equipment for contracting jobs.  He then started his own contracting business in his 20’s.  In the mid 1990’s he made his move to outdoor power equipment as area manager for Polaris, after which he worked at Amazone Groundcare before finally moving to Estesia as an ASM, then General Manager and finally Managing Director.

Les has many years of experience both within agriculture and the outdoor power equipment sector and said of the future “This virus has shown us more than ever that Technology has to be the key forward for all of us, we have to embrace the  future forget the past and show our customers that we can offer expertise, money saving machinery, environmentally efficient solutions such as robotics in agricultural or the outdoor sectors. We as an industry must embrace these modern methods to safeguard our futures and entice the younger generation into a sector of employment that few people leave if they actively engage in its culture and history”

Mr Malin is due to receive his official chain of office in more certain and safe times but so he knows what to look forward to, we have mocked up his official image.

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GGM Group step out for charity

GGM Group step out for charity: A Lancashire business has demonstrated that it will always go the extra mile for charity -even when faced with a global pandemic and tough weather conditions.

This weekend, staff from the Colne-based GGM Group completed their annual fundraising walk with a difference – taking on a specifically adapted route to adhere to social distancing guidelines, while raising over £3000 for three worthy causes – Greenfingers, St John’s Hospice and Pendlebury Hospice.

GGM Group step out for charity

GGM Group step out for charity

Managing Director Chris Gibson and his team travelled from his home-town of Lancaster to the businesses’ head office in Colne and then back again, covering a distance of approximately 100 miles – through a combination of cycling and walking. The walking element, which covered over 80,000 steps,  covered the Lancashire Witches Walk which passes through the Forest of Pendle and the Forest of Bowland to finish at Lancaster Castle. Travelling through blistering temperatures and torrential rain, the team completed their walk on Saturday afternoon, arriving at St John’s Hospice, Lancaster to a hero’s welcome and a well-deserved afternoon tea with a well-earned beer and fizz.

The team had planned to climb the three highest peaks in England as part of the company’s annual charity walking event, and were disappointed to be unable to go ahead as planned. Undeterred, Chris came up with his own ingenious solution.

He explains more:

“Last year the GGM team completed the Yorkshire Three Peaks in aid of our company charity, Greenfingers, and we were looking forward to this year’s event.

“As part of the Government’s initiative to get us back to work via walking or cycling, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to continue our fundraising. I chose this route because it was created to mark the 400th anniversary of the trail of the “Lancashire Witches” held at Lancaster Castle and  I wanted to recognise the injustice and prejudice of the past and the need continue to fight to remove these from society today.  We were able to include several of our team and their families in our efforts, with people undertaking different legs in pairs, to enable social distancing.

The event raised money for charities who are finding themselves cash-strapped during these difficult times. Greenfingers is the company charity for the second year running, dedicated to supporting children who spend time in hospices around the UK, along with their families, by creating inspiring gardens for them to relax in. In addition, funds will also be raised for St John’s Hospice in Lancaster which provides free palliative care to patients with life shortening conditions across North Lancashire, South Lakes and parts of North Yorkshire and Pendleside Hospice in Burnley, which exists to promote and enhance quality of life for people with life-limiting illnesses.

The GGM Group consists of two businesses across two depots. PSD Groundscare is the national distributor of specialist landscaping equipment, including AS Motor and Eliet, Koppl and TS Industrie. GGM Groundscare is a specialist supplier of tractors and high-quality professional land-based equipment for commercial and domestic use. Servicing the North West and Yorkshire, it supplies a range of products from leading franchises including Kubota, Baroness and Amazone.

Chris Gibson concluded:

“I am hugely proud of what our staff have achieved this weekend. It was teamwork in the truest sense, and we all worked hard to make the event work while adhering to social distancing. The youngest participants were just seven years old and as a family business, and it was fantastic for us all to come together.

We’d like to extend our thanks to Chorley Nissan who loaned us a support vehicle and Lisa and the team at St John’s Hospice who waved us off and then welcomed us back with refreshments.

“It’s a key part of our ethos at The GGM Group to give something back to the local community  so for this event we’ve decided to support  both St John’s Hospice in Lancaster and Pendleside Hospice in Burnley, as local charities who are desperately in need of funds at this time alongside Greenfingers our nominated company charity.

The GGM Group set a target of £1000 for the event which it has already smashed, with a current total of over £3000. You can support this worthy cause by donating at https://www.sponsorme.co.uk/scottgrieve/chris-gibsons-cycle-and-walk-challenge.aspx

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Don’t hit your ball towards greenkeepers

Don’t hit your ball towards greenkeepers: After a course manager suffered a nasty head injury when struck by a ball, BIGGA explain their members often find themselves in the firing line.

The golf course is perhaps unique in sport as greenkeepers can often be seen carrying out work while the course is in play.

Don't hit your ball towards greenkeepers

Don’t hit your ball towards greenkeepers

It’d be a little odd if a groundsman was marking out a penalty area on a football pitch or the boundaries of a tennis court while a match was in play. But with tee sheets filled to the brim and greenkeepers having a massive area to maintain, it’s inevitable that eventually the greenkeeper and the golfer will come into contact – often with dangerous consequences.

Portlethen Golf Club’s course manager, Neil Sadler, shared a gruesome image of himself after he was struck on the head by an errant golf ball at the weekend, which left him hospitalised and with a concussion…

The damage caused by a golf ball hitting you on the head is about a tenth of a head-on collision in a car crash and of the 12,000 golf-related injuries recorded each year in the UK, around 3,500 are head injuries caused by a golf ball.

The R&A’s Rules of Golf attempt to mitigate the potential dangers to both greenkeepers and other players. Within the ‘Etiquette’ Behaviour on the Course section, it is explained how golfers should always wait until the way ahead is clear before playing a shot. This applies to whether the person ahead is a greenkeeper going about his duties, another golfer or a member of the public.

Golfers have a duty of care not to put others at risk as result of their actions. Sadly, all too often greenkeepers find themselves in the firing line.

We got together three golf course managers to hear their thoughts on the matter and to discuss who should have priority out on the course – the greenkeeping team or the golfer?

Chris Sheehan (left) is a former BIGGA president and head greenkeeper at West Derby Golf Club for over 30 years. James Parker (centre) was course manager at Pannal Golf Club in Harrogate and is now at Longniddry Golf Club near Edinburgh. Jack Hetherington is course manager at Boldon Golf Club in the North East after a spell as head greenkeeper at Alnwick Golf Club.

Here’s what they told us:

Chris Sheehan (head greenkeeper, West Derby): “Most golf clubs that I know, if not all of them, have a policy where the greens staff have priority at all times. But, despite this, greenkeepers sometimes find themselves in the firing line. This is the worst scenario and it not only hurts them from a mental point of view, but it also hurts them if the golf ball hits them. There have been many instances of balls hitting greenkeepers and causing serious injury. It has happened to me and when you go up to the golfer and say ‘did you not see me?’ They say ‘oh no, I didn’t’ or ‘I didn’t think I’d hit it that far’. When you are on a machine, you can’t hear them shouting ‘fore’. As far as I am concerned, don’t play while the greenkeeper is on the green.”

Jack Hetherington (course manager, Boldon): “Greenkeepers should have priority at all times. It’s easier for me to educate my three members of staff than it is to educate all of my members and say ‘right, you must give way at this time, but at this time we’ll give way’. It’s easier for golfers to give way at all times and for me to educate my staff on when it’s acceptable to make them wait and when it is not.

James Parker (head greenkeeper, Longniddry): “If you’ve got somebody cutting a green then golfers should wait. Conversely, if the greenkeeper feels the task is going to take too long and hold up play, then by all means move to the side and let people play through. The difficulty is that the more we squeeze our tee sheets, which every club is doing now as we want to cram in as much golf as we can, then the fourball who are stood in the middle of the fairway feel under the same pressure as the greenkeeper on the green. They’ve got people on the tee behind them wanting to play. But as long as the member and the greenkeeper can work together, I don’t really see that it should be a huge issue.

Chris: “I spoke to had a health and safety expert in and he said ‘I think all the greens staff should wear a helmet and hi-vis jackets when they work on the golf course, so the golfers can see them and they know it’s a member of the greens staff’. I said ‘don’t you think the same applies to visitors or any member?’ We’re all people out there and if that isn’t enough to stop people hit golf balls towards you, I’m not sure what will.”

James: “I spoke to a health and safety advisor who said completely the opposite. I mentioned about bump caps and hi-vis – I’m firmly against it – and he said he thinks it makes golfers more last if you give them bump caps and hi-vis and the beauty of not wearing them is that golfers should be on the lookout for greenkeepers. Safety gear doesn’t stop golfers from hitting their ball, because they just say ‘he’s got a bump cap on. I’m going to hit it anyway, he’ll be fine’.”

Chris: “You can literally kill somebody with a golf ball. There have been serious injuries that have been caused and our fear is that it won’t be long before somebody gets killed.”

Click here to read the original article

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Maintaining a golf course alone

Maintaining a golf course alone: Meet the head greenkeeper who took on lockdown single-handedly and was overcome by the community at his club.

Ian Pemberton always joked his course at Cleveland Golf Club would be brilliant if golfers weren’t on it. Then they were gone – for nearly two months.

Maintaining a golf course alone

Maintaining a golf course alone

He was alone, his entire staff furloughed, with a sweeping 18-hole links to manage as coronavirus shut the country as well as the club.

‘Pembo’, as everyone at the club knows him, is part of the furniture. He’s been in the trade for nearly four decades and head greenkeeper at the Redcar course for just over 13 years.

You could say he’s seen a lot. But he’s never experienced anything like the pandemic that gripped the town.

“It was horrible,” he said. “It was a testing time. It was a character building time and it was a learning curve.”

When a pipe burst, he had to be on it. Whether it was tees, fairways or greens, he was the only one on a mower.

Pemberton’s never regarded greenkeeping as anything other than a vocation – “it’s not a 9 to 5 job” – but he knew the only way to get through what essential maintenance actually meant was with detailed planning.

Well, that and an April drought.

“I put together an Excel sheet and programmed timings for when something desperately needed cutting. The greens were every three days and the fairways didn’t take much because it was that dry.

“(Without that) I don’t think I would have coped. I would have had to get the lads back in.”

When he needed it most, in those moments when everything threatened to get overwhelming, there was assistance from volunteers who gave him more of a fillip than they could have known.

“They were tremendous. They need a huge ovation from the rest of the membership. They were limited in what they could do, because they couldn’t jump on machines.

“They were divoting and getting to areas I couldn’t. There were always offers of help and that’s what I needed at that time.”

And even though he’s coming through a torrid experience, as we all have in our own ways, Pemberton has found positives among the hardship.

He’s always had a love-in with the members – anyone who’s ever had a round at the course is bewitched by his infectious enthusiasm and easy way of going about his work.

But even he admitted to getting a little emotional when golfers returned to the course and showered him with praise for its condition.

“It was wonderful. I’d be in the shed and three or four members came in with crates of lager. One brought me some Corona. How good is that? There’s a little bit of Corona for you.

“I love it here. The course is my back garden. It’s just that my back garden got bigger overnight for six or seven weeks.”

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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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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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