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Lawn Care Legends – Who, What and Why

Lawn Care Legends – Who, What and Why: John Ryan, Founder of Lawn Care Legends, gives Turf Matters an insight to the thinking behind one of the fastest growing groups in the industry.

I’m John Ryan and I am a self-employed lawn care contractor based in Bangor, Northern Ireland and the founder of Lawn Care Legends, who grew from an idea formed back in July, 2017.

Lawn Care Legends - Who, What and Why

Lawn Care Legends – Who, What and Why

My thinking was that the lawn care community has expanded on social media across the world from YouTube to Facebook and Instagram particularly.

However, an unfortunate aspect of social media in this day and age, is that it creates a platform often with little accountability and, depending on an individual’s position, perhaps anonymity. This makes it easy for those who would choose to belittle or criticise anyone wanting to learn more about their trade, craft or industry to do so without any consequences.

This can typically be seen in Facebook groups across a range of industries. Where someone will ask a question, in the hope that someone with experience and knowledge would be willing to share their knowledge to help a peer achieve better results either in their current project or self-development, but be met with mocking and abuse. (Sometimes as banter, but mostly in criticism).

These prevalent negative attitudes see people holding back from asking questions, or not feeling comfortable to share their views perspectives or to ask questions for fear of being ridiculed.

Lawn Care Legends - Who, What and Why

Lawn Care Legends – Who, What and Why

This prompted me to create Lawn Care Legends, the Facebook group.

Our aims are simple. To create a Facebook group where we try to operate on the basis of respect, encouragement and passion for what we do in a professional environment on social media. An international collective.

One aspect of the lawn care community online is the difference that can be seen across the globe with varying styles and approaches to our respective trades.

Although each country has its own standards for operation in our industry, I felt Lawn Care Legends could benefit from the various perspectives that people from different countries could add as valuable content. In an industry that has a lot of service providers, it can be difficult to stand out and so with the ability to access information shared by people from other countries as well as our own we can gain inspiration and drive for our businesses.

So, Lawn Care Legends allowed the development of a new addition to the community we are all a part of in one way or another. We enjoy members contributions mainly from the UK, Ireland but we have members who contribute from the USA, Norway, France, Australia, Canada, Serbia and more which makes for a lot of variety.

To run a Facebook group is not an easy task and the people behind the scenes that make this possible are the admin team of LCL. A friendly bunch with a wide variety of skills, qualifications and knowledge in all aspects of the lawn care industry.

From the basics of grass cutting, shrub/tree cutting, to treatments, landscaping, pond installations and maintenance, and also insight from the dealers side of the industry.

The admin team is currently made up of: Alan Adams from (NI); Paul McGill (Scot); Ryan Powala Higgins (Eng); Richard Jones (Eng); Kaz Dunsmore (Scot); Robert Ross (Scot); Tom Duchesne (Eng); Jay Chillingworth (Eng); Danny Clegg (Eng); Ben Morrison (Scot), and Di Dodds (Aus).

Lawn Care Legends - Who, What and Why

Lawn Care Legends – Who, What and Why

There have been many people who have contributed to the success of LCL during their time on the admin team before moving onto other projects or priorities. One key individual who really helped LCL become more connected with manufacturers and reps, is Ashley Bevan, from Weston Garden Machinery. His amazing support really played a huge role in get the industry to support the LCL Awards.

As we encountered more and more people on-line, I think we’ll agree that we still enjoy a good meet up with people in the real world. It is hard to replace the benefits of shaking someone’s hand and getting to know others better without giving your thumbs or fingers an ache from typing.

So, one thing that we have tried to do is organise LCL meet ups where possible. We started doing this in early 2018, with our first meet up at Rochford’s Garden Machinery, in Wincanton, and we have gone on to host meet ups in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, with the intention to organise and host more events in the future.

We hope to organise an LCL business training event in 2021 as well as an LCL demo day, then we will combine those events into one event in 2022 for England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. If it proves successful we will look to more locations, with the aim of helping more people.

The purpose is simple really. Everyone loves a good meet up and it is a great way to network, training and education. It allows people, who otherwise wouldn’t get the chance, to demo machinery and get a feel for different brands and their equipment.

Back in January of 2020 we had organised a factory tour and LCL meet up at the Ariens factory, in Oxford, where we were greeted with amazing hospitality and open arms by another manufacturer that wanted to support our community and the desire to connect people better. We had demos of Ariens zero turns as these are now made at the facility.

We also took part in a zero turn challenge with prizes awarded, while Ariens collaborated with Kawasaki Engines Europe to conduct a workshop class on engine maintenance on xero turns. We even had our own pizza van on the day and topped off with a swag bag with gifts and discount vouchers to buy some products.

It took around five months from the time Lawn Care Legends was created, to start gaining traction and membership started to increase. From that point it has grown to over 5,000 members representing.

To make the group stand out and to try and bring value to the members, the idea of LCL awards was floated, with the aim of creating our own event within the industry to celebrate the small business owner.

And so the Lawn Care Legends Awards were created. Of course, they would be operated online, in the spirit that this new digital age that has benefited so many in different ways. However, there is still a lot to be said for face-to-face contact and discussions with people.

I then set out to see if it was possible to collaborate with an industry event that would allow us to host our Awards’ presentation.

An obvious choice was to reach out to the IOG, so named at the time, and Saltex. I pitched the idea of a little Awards’ event, that would celebrate the average business owner in our trade. I believe if you don’t ask, you are guaranteed the answer is “No”.

Lawn Care Legends - Who, What and Why

Lawn Care Legends – Who, What and Why

Well, I got an amazing reply that displayed a real desire to work with us.

From originally asking if it was possible to use a little corner of the show, we were being allocated the use of a large private room. Fusion Media also produced a press release about our awards, which got our name out to industry magazines and online media platforms.

In addition, we were featured in the opening letter by the IOG CEO Geoff Webb. So, in 2018, we held our first LCL Saltex Awards. We had an amazing turn out of over 100 members. We had started with a little vision and pitched the idea to just a few companies to gain support on which we could build.

The first company to see the potential of a positive contribution to our community, came from Weibang Ireland. They were so excited about the idea and wanted to be a part of it and offered a lawn mower as the first prize.

Those first Awards began with just three sponsors: The IOG, Weibang Ireland and Blinc NI. By the time we came back a year later we had grown our sponsors to 12: Weibang Ireland and Weibang UK, ECHO, EGO, Hendon Ladders, Kawasaki Engines Europe, Ferris Mowers UK, Wright Mowers UK, Cub Cadet, Jobber, Green Touch Industries and the IOG.

Despite so many things having been disrupted in 2020, we already have over 20 sponsors lined up for the LCL Saltex Awards 2021, with around £10,000 worth of prizes.

We just want to be able to give the average guy in our industry the opportunity to have his picture taken, be praised for his high standard of work, be presented with a trophy and win awesome equipment which will contribute to his business and service for the better.

It is all part of our dream, and with the support and recognition from industry manufacturers, to spur our community on to do better and take pride, we can come together in a positive manner… and that includes everyone from the end user; landscapers; greenkeepers; groundsmen; gardeners; business owners/operators; dealers; distributors and manufacturers.

Some might think that we are just a little Facebook group, but we are determined to be so much more, and have already come a long way.

Perhaps we might see you guys around some day, either in our group or at one of our events – something positive for us all to look forward to.

Aerate and overseed in one pass with Ventrac

Aerate and overseed in one pass with Ventrac: Turf compaction and grass damage over the winter months caused by foot or vehicle traffic and other stresses can be an issue and needs to be alleviated to keep the turf healthy. Now with Ventrac’s Aera-vator and integrated Gandy seeder it’s possible to aerate and overseed in one pass.

The Aera-vator is designed to break and loosen the soil beneath the surface without destroying the turf. It creates a hole without bringing a core plug to the surface, leaving the turf ready for use immediately after treatment. The Aera-vator works best in drier ground leaving a core hole while fracturing the sub soil.

Aerate and overseed in one pass with Ventrac

Aerate and overseed in one pass with Ventrac

The National Trust’s Waddesdon Manor, managed by the Rothschild Foundation, purchased a Ventrac 4500 compact tractor and Tough Cut deck late last year and recently returned to local dealer RT Machinery to purchase additional attachments including a Turbo Blower, Landscape Rake and Aera-vator with seeder.

Peter Turski is the Horticultural Team Leader at the estate and says,

“The Aera-vator and overseeder attachment for the Ventrac is an excellent piece of equipment. We have some heavy footfall across the estate especially at our annual events such as the Christmas Fair, Colourscape in May, Summer Fest in July and Chilli Fest each September. We are one of the National Trust’s most visited properties with over 460,000 visitors, which means that the more formal grass areas around the ornamental core of the gardens can become very compacted.

“The main benefit of the Aera-vator is that it simplifies the whole operation in one pass significantly reducing the time taken to a fraction of what it used to. No soil plugs are generated, so no collection required, and the over seeding attachment works in synchronicity with the aerating implement by dropping seed directly into the fractured surface of the sward assisting good contact with the soil.”

With a working width of 1.52 metres and a depth of 70 mm, the vibrating heads create six holes every 300 mm (66 holes per square metre) with the hole size regulated by the drive speed. The slower the forward speed of the Ventrac tractor unit, the larger the hole.

With the optional Gandy Seeder, you can save time by reseeding while aerating, increasing the odds of germination for a thicker and healthier sward.

The tines can be replaced individually or by quickly changing the entire mounting heads, giving you the versatility required for efficient operation. The Aera-vator is built with the Ventrac Mount System, allowing for easy attachment changes, and comes with a standard jack stand for easy mounting.

The all-wheel-drive Ventrac 4500 is rated for slopes of up to 30 degrees and is capable of handling various turf conditions allowing aeration in areas previously inaccessible with other aeration tools.

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Bernhard and Company chooses GMS

Bernhard and Company chooses GMS: Bernhard and Company Ltd, a world leading provider of turf care solutions, has appointed GMS as its international marketing agency.

The company, headquartered in Rugby, England, supplies sharpening systems to over 65 of the world’s top 100 golf courses and over 75 of the top 100 US courses. As a leader in sports surface air movement and moisture control solutions, it also holds an exclusive license to distribute SubAir and Turfbreeze systems to golf and sports facilities across EMEA and parts of Asia.

Bernhard and Company chooses GMS

Bernhard and Company chooses GMS

“At Bernhard and Company, we have amazing partners and associated stories, most of which have not yet been told to their fullest. We’re therefore very excited to partner with such an experienced and reputable agency as GMS,” said Angelique Crosnier, Marketing and Internal Sales Manager at Bernhard and Company.

“Their stable of clients and the length of relationships speaks volumes for their service levels. We’re excited to watch our content and reach flourish under their guidance.”

Over its 150-year history, Bernhard and Company’s precision sharpening equipment and specialist guidance have played an integral role in the setup of a multitude of elite events run by the PGA Tour, European Tour and USGA.

“We’re thrilled to be activating what is an extensive brief from Bernhard and Company,” commented Sam Elder, Director at GMS.

“Through our recent discussions with them, myself and the wider team at GMS have been hugely impressed by the company’s commitment to providing exceptional products and services, but also their vow to continuously improve when it comes to sustainability, conservation and its relationship to golf course and turf maintenance.

“As undisputed pioneers and leaders in their field, we feel they’re a great fit with our other clients and we’re eager to bring their stories to life alongside their experienced team.”

The partnership, effective January 1st, 2021, sees GMS take on the role of global marketing agency for Bernhard and Company, with an emphasis on PR and content production services.

 ABOUT BERNHARD AND COMPANY

A specialist in sports turf technology, Bernhard and Company is committed to providing leading turf care solutions to golf course and pitch care specialists worldwide. From blade sharpening systems to sports surface air movement and moisture control solutions and supplementary lighting solutions, the Bernhard and Company product portfolio is focused on providing its global customer base with championship turf and world-class playability. Bernhard and Company’s turf health solutions are used at top 100 courses and famous sporting venues around the world. For more information, visit www.bernhard.co.uk.

Find Bernhard and Company on their official social media channels:

  • Twitter – @BernhardCompany
  • Facebook – Bernhard Company
  • Instagram – @BernhardCompany
  • Linkedin – Bernhard Company

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YANA and Harrowden Turf support rural mental health

YANA and Harrowden Turf support rural mental health: Harrowden Turf is pleased to announce a new partnership with YANA – providers of rural mental health support. Early in 2021 a new Harrowden Turf delivery vehicle will feature YANA branding and will be seen across the country.

YANA provides practical guidance and confidential counselling to those in farming and rural businesses. Farming or working in the countryside is usually a good way of life but it can be a demanding and stressful occupation. Many people involved with agriculture can feel isolated, depressed or unable to cope.

YANA and Harrowden Turf support rural mental health

YANA and Harrowden Turf support rural mental health

One in five people in the UK will experience poor mental health so Harrowden Turf is working with YANA to emphasise that no-one who works in the rural economy is alone.

Harrowden Turf has adopted the YANA corporate identity one of its trucks which will cover more than 100,000 miles every year. The objective of the partnership is to make more people aware of the support that exists and which is focussed on the rural economy.

Stuart Ridd-Jones – Harrowden Turf Managing Director:

“If 2020 has taught us anything it is that we are stronger together and whilst all businesses have had to adapt to the pandemic those within rural businesses often work alone, can feel alone and struggle to access support services.”

Melinda Raker –YANA Patron:

“YANA is delighted to take to the road in this way. This Harrowden Turf vehicle with our logo and contact details will help to ‘drive’ home the message that there is practical help and advice available to improve rural mental health.”

For more information:

  1. Harrowden Turf and Turfonline Media Office please email marketing@harrowdenturf.co.uk or call 07980 568842

YANA – please email pr@yanahelp.org.uk or visit our website www.yanahelp.org.uk

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Safe and effective weed control

Safe and effective weed control: Adam Pilgrim from ANP Services Spalding Ltd, has long relied on Roundup ProActive from ProGreen claiming that it offers several benefits to both the contractor and the customer.

Roundup ProActive is a highly active glyphosate formulation which provides total broad spectrum weed control. Its advanced technology has secured the herbicide as a market leader and is the choice of many professionals across the UK.

Safe and effective weed control

Safe and effective weed control

Adam, from ANP Services Spalding Ltd, a company working in garden and grounds maintenance, have been using Roundup ProActive for the last seven years in a wide range of areas.

“We have been using Roundup since 2013 across domestic and industrial sectors, everywhere from spot control of problem weeds to broad scale weed control across commercial and industrial sites,” he said.

“We have also used it for cut stump treatment to prevent regrowth of problem small trees and ivy stumps.”

Roundup ProActive uses improved adjuvants to enhance performance and plant up-take. It has also been designed for safe use and has a non-hazardous label.

Further benefits of Roundup ProActive include:

  • Rainfast within 1 hour
  • The widest label fields of use
  • Widest range of tested tank-mixing partners
  • Drift reduction properties
  • Excellent in challenging conditions

“With regards as to why we choose Roundup ProActive, there are a variety of reasons,” continued Adam. “The quick rain fastness of the product makes it an ideal choice for using in tight weather windows. Its recognised position as a market leading, premium product means that it gives commercial clients the confidence that it will be safe and effective.

“Furthermore, the surfactants and water conditioners already added lessen the need to carry additional chemical containers on the vehicle, reducing cost of purchase and eliminating having lots of measuring jugs to wash out. This is especially useful when only a few litres of made up solution may be required for a small-scale site.

“Its variable application rates and speedy effectiveness, even at lower dosage rates means that it is both cost effective for the contractor and environmentally responsible for the client.

“We have used adjuvants previously to improve the herbicide uptake such as Speedway Total and Mixture B, especially on difficult to control weeds such as rosebay willow herb and ivy. These can provide a noticeable difference in the ‘stickability’ of the product to more difficult to penetrate leaves.”

Roundup ProActive is distributed in the UK by ICL.

Please contact ICL on 01473 237100 or visit www.icl-sf.co.uk or www.icl-sf.ie if you are in Ireland.

For more news and insightful views, you can follow ICL on Twitter @ICL_Turf

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ECHO Auto Choke and Easy Start chainsaws

ECHO Auto Choke and Easy Start chainsaws: ECHO has introduced two rear handle chainsaws designed for easy starting. Both are lightweight, versatile and packed with features that enhance operator comfort and convenience. The ergonomic design ensures manoeuvrability and precision, making them ideal for pruning and cutting firewood.

The ECHO CS-3510AC is built for casual users and farmers looking for a reliable all-round saw to get through work quickly. Equally, it will suit the keen gardener who needs a chainsaw for infrequent tasks or is new to using one. The saw features an auto choke with a solenoid valve at the carburettor. This controls the amount of fuel needed, depending on the engine’s temperature, for optimal performance. There are several benefits to this. Firstly, there is no choke lever. The engine start is simply a primary pump and recoil action for faster starting. With the automated system controlling the fuel supply, there is no risk of carburettor flooding. The premium 34.4cc engine is manufactured in Japan to the highest standards for increased performance, extended product life and less downtime. Combined with the light weight of just 3.8kg and compact design it helps reduce operator fatigue, offers longer use and maximum power.

ECHO Auto Choke and Easy Start chainsaws

ECHO Auto Choke and Easy Start chainsaws

The CS-3510ES is equipped with ECHO’s patented ES Start for easy starting every time. A professional-grade 34.4cc engine and dry weight of just 3.7kg give you a saw that gets to work fast and powers through tasks. It is built specifically for versatility and ease of use. The anti-vibration system minimises vibration levels to give excellent manoeuvrability, operator comfort and precision when cutting. There is a momentary switch for a quick and easy engine restart, side-access chain tensioner for quick chain adjustment and an automatic clutch-drive oiler to lubricate the chain. A transparent fuel tank provides easy level checks and there is G-Force Engine Air Pre-Cleaner, to reduce engine exposure to dirt and debris, for less maintenance and longer life. Lightweight construction and ECHO Easy Start technology make the CS-3510ES a great choice for domestic use and on the smallholding or farm.

Both chainsaws come with a 2-year commercial or 5-year domestic warranty. Find out more from your local authorised ECHO dealer. You can also visit www.echo-tools.co.uk or call 01844 278800 for more information.

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Celebrate parks and green spaces

Celebrate parks and green spaces: Green space charity Fields in Trust is collaborating with parkrun to celebrate the wellbeing benefits that the UKs parks and green spaces have delivered during the coronavirus crisis.

The joint campaign invites park users to share stories of how important green spaces have been as places to exercise, relax, reflect and as a safe place to meet loved ones and connect with our friends and our neighbours.

Celebrate parks and green spaces

Celebrate parks and green spaces

The #notjust campaign identifies the different ways communities engage with outdoor spaces, A local green space is #notjust a park, it has so many more intangible benefits, emotions and memories that contribute to our physical health, mental wellbeing and community contacts.  Park users are invited to celebrate their local green spaces by recording video clips or taking photographs celebrating what their local park means to them and their families and sharing the stories on the campaign website www.fieldsintrust.org/notjust and social media using the #notjust hashtag.

Speaking on the joint campaign, parkrun’s Global Head of Health and Wellbeing Chrissie Wellington said “if there’s one thing to lift our spirits, it’s being outside in the open air, being connected to nature and moving our bodies. We need parks more than ever before and this means taking steps to protect, value and, importantly, celebrate them. We are proud to join hands with Fields in Trust to do just that and would like to encourage everyone to get involved by sharing what your park means to you and the wonderfully diverse and amazing ways you have been using them over the past year. Together we can make sure that parks are here for us, and for all those who follow in our footsteps”.

As places for us to remain physically distanced but socially connected local parks have come to the fore this year. Data shows increased usage of green space throughout the year, but the campaign also recognises that access to parks and green spaces is not equally distributed across the UK.

Fields in Trust Chief Executive, Helen Griffiths, said: “2020 has been an incredibly difficult year but imagine how much more difficult it would have been without our local parks. For thousands of us the park was a daily lifeline. Now as we approach the end of that year – but sadly not yet the end of the crisis – we want you to join with us and our friends at parkrun to celebrate just how much we’ve all valued these spaces. Parks are one of the unsung heroes of the pandemic and if there was ever a time to show our appreciation for parks and how important they are to our collective health and wellbeing this is it! Let’s take this opportunity to work together to protect the future of these precious spaces because one they’re lost, they’re lost forever.

Park users are invited to share stories of their own much-loved local parks at the campaign website www.fieldsintrust.org/notjust and share on social media using the hashtag #notjust.

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New Automower® offers productivity and flexibility

New Automower® offers productivity and flexibility: Last year, Husqvarna announced its new virtual boundary technology EPOS and that the company was going to pilot test it on selected markets. After successful testing during the spring and summer, the first ever Husqvarna robotic mower with virtual boundary technology, Husqvarna Automower® 550 EPOS, will now be launched.

Husqvarna – global leader in robotic lawnmowing – is now, after months of thorough testing internally and with customers, launching the new high capacity Husqvarna Automower® 550 EPOS robotic mower. Its satellite-based virtual boundary solution offers new levels of flexibility, convenience and performance for areas up to 5,000 m2.

New Automower® offers productivity and flexibility

New Automower® offers productivity and flexibility

The pilot of the Husqvarna Automower® 550 EPOS robotic mower with virtual boundary technology included 100 robotic mowers in four countries. It was, for example, tested at Royal Djurgården in Stockholm, the Ullevi Stadium in Göteborg, Munich Airport, La Seine Musicale in Paris and at a baseball stadium in New York.

Gunnar Björkman, Park Manager at Royal Djurgården, a park with more than 15 million visitors each year, tested the Husqvarna Automower® 550 EPOS robotic mower during the spring and summer. He said: “The main benefits we saw from testing the Husqvarna 550 EPOS robotic mower was the easy installation and the flexible area management which allowed us to create temporary stay out zones when lawns were being used for events or closed off for other reasons. With robotics using virtual boundaries we can use robotics for 75% of our mowing, compared to 25% previously.”

At the “Planten un Blomen” park in Hamburg, a Husqvarna Automower® 550 EPOS robotic mower was installed in collaboration with Elbgarden OHG on a demanding public area of 1,200 m2. The test area is located in direct connection to a footpath and an artificial lake, where events such as the music-accompanied water light games take place. Matthias Olinski, head of the “Planten un Blomen” park in Hamburg, was impressed by the performance and flexibility of Husqvarna Automower® 550 EPOS.

He said: “It offers many advantages over conventional mowing technology, especially in terms of flexibility. We no longer have to plan whether we have enough staff for mowing. This offers more time for other work like grooming or bed care. Via the app, we can manage when the robotic lawnmower should run or pause. During organised events, for example, we can easily adapt the mowing work to the respective situation – very practical and user-friendly.”

Husqvarna’s virtual boundary EPOS technology is a high-precision satellite navigation system that delivers an accuracy of 2-3 centimetres, giving the user a new level of flexibility and offers a robust and flexible installation on areas with an open sky.  The virtual boundaries also enable aerating and scarifying without breaking physical wires and the user can change boundaries and transport paths from their phone. With the Precise Area Management feature, several work areas can be defined with different timers and settings, including cutting height. It also makes it possible to create temporary stay out zones.

Kevin Ashmore, UK Manager of Husqvarna Professional commented: “We are extremely proud to bring the new Husqvarna Automower® 550 EPOS robotic mower to the market. Utilising Husqvarna’s EPOS technology, it offers a sustainable and cost-efficient solution that simplifies maintaining large green spaces. Being battery powered it emits no fumes and the light weight of the mower and low electric energy consumption reduce its carbon footprint.”

Operating with low noise levels, it is suitable for environments that require some degree of noise control – for example at golf courses, football stadiums or in urban areas such as city parks. For a convenient user interaction, as well as easy maintenance and handling, it is possible to monitor and control Husqvarna Automower® 550 EPOS through the Automower® Connect and Husqvarna Fleet Services™ apps.

Husqvarna Automower® 550 EPOS will be available from May 2021 and costs £5,199 inc. VAT for the unit and £1,099 inc. VAT for the reference station. The reference station can serve multiple machines.

For more information, visit the Husqvarna website: https://www.husqvarna.com/uk/lawn-garden/professional/professional-robotic-mowers/epos/

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Emirates Golf Club and the Air2G2

Emirates Golf Club and the Air2G2: The Air2G2 from Campey Turf Care Systems is being used at Emirate’s Golf Club, Dubai, to keep the award-winning Majlis Course in prime condition.

As Dubai’s number one golf course, it is imperative that machinery manager and second assistant, Dónal Mulvey, and the 72 strong golf course maintenance department consisting of greenkeepers, mechanics, irrigation, landscape and spray technicians maintain the high standards expected by members and customers.

Emirates Golf Club and the Air2G2

Emirates Golf Club and the Air2G2

Dónal has worked for Emirates Golf Club since January 2017 having completed a Bachelor of Science in Horticulture, which included a 30-week placement at Royal Dublin Golf Club as a greenkeeper, where he stayed for a further five years training as a greenkeeper and mechanic. With almost four years of experience working on the Middle East’s first grass golf course, he is familiar with the issues faced in one of the driest and arid regions of the world, where reusing salt-rich treated sewage effluent (TSE) water is common practice.

After seeing the Air2G2 on various social media platforms and first-hand at GIS, the club thought the machine could be a huge asset to the Majlis’ 30-year-old push-up greens that host 45,000 rounds of golf a year as well as the Faldo Course, which takes 55,000.

“We purchased the Air2G2 for many different reasons,” Dónal explains. The main one being the Majlis greens are 30-year-old push-up greens with no drainage. Given the high volume of water we put out which is all TSE water, we have a constant issue with salt build-up and air exchange. We also have a high volume of golf throughout the year, and any aeration we can do with no disturbance to the greens is extremely beneficial.

“The machine does exactly what it claims to do providing deep aeration with no surface disturbance. We can run it at any time, and the golfers are none the wiser. We mainly tackle weak areas on the greens, and the machine is used three times a month on the entire green and four to six times on collars and affected areas.

“The more and more we use it, the less noticeable it is. When we first started the ground would move slightly due to compaction. Now that we run it regularly, there is no movement in the soil, and there is less compaction and more oxygen, and we can also see moisture and EC levels drop after using the machine.”

Nick Brown Product Specialist for Campey Turf Care is delighted to be working closely with The Emirates Golf Club to provide turf maintenance solutions. “Campey Turf Care always encourages best practice, and we like to work closely with our end users to ensure they have access to the right advice and equipment to suit their specific needs. Working closely with Dónal, we have examined all the options and helped provide the right solution. In this instance the Air2G2 has delivered the results and we are extremely pleased.”

The Air2G2 uses three probes to latterly inject pressurised air up to 12-inches beneath the surface of the soil to fracture the compacted layers that form because of footfall, mechanical traffic and daily wear and tear. Because the air is injected directly into the root zone, the surface of the turf is left undisturbed, allowing play to continue instantly.

For more information on the Air2G2 or any of Campey’s aeration machinery, please visit www.campeyturf.com

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Honour and a privilege

Honour and a privilege: Scott MacCallum talks with Adam King, Head of Grounds at Radley College in Oxford, and learns that while there is competitiveness to do your best, that doesn’t necessarily mean with each other.

I had a pretty normal school education. I got sufficient grades to go on to do the journalism course that I wanted to take, while I also enjoyed the sporting side of things, playing rugby for the school in my early years.

Honour and a privilege

Honour and a privilege

In fact, I enjoy all sports but, to be perfectly honest, I’ve never been very good – the archetypal Jack of all Trades… You know the rest.

But things might have been different. I enjoy golf, but grew up in a town where the golf club had no professional, so my swing was, and still is, hand built – more Heath Robinson than Rolls Royce. At my school our PE staff were more facilitators than coaches, allowing us access to sport but without any genuine coaching, while our playing fields were sloped to such an extent that I could run 100 metres in around 11 seconds in one direction and 22 seconds in the other.

So, while I’ve always been grateful for the education I received, I am, and have always been, envious of those people who benefited from a private education. And even more so, of those who boarded. Nothing to do with Harry Potter, but these guys had access to fabulous sports facilities, plenty of time for sport on the timetables and coaches to ensure that proper foundations are put into technique, whether that be batting, scrummaging or golfing.

Not so sure about quidditching.

I certainly don’t feel underprivileged, but those thoughts did come flooding back when I spoke with Adam King, Head of Grounds at Radley College, in Oxford, and particularly resonated when he talked about two of the newest additions to facilities, neither of which, funnily enough, require input from himself from an agronomic perspective.

We used to include pictures of well presented pitches on our school prospectus. Now we have pictures of our Strength and Conditioning Unit, which cost close to £1 million, and our rowing tank, which enables the boys to train right the way through winter,” explained Adam.

Strength and Conditioning Unit! What I would have given to have had access to that. I went from scrawny to overweight in the blink of an eye.

Radley is one of only four all boarding boys’ schools in the entire country – the others being Eton, Harrow and Winchester. There are currently 737 boys on roll and this will grow to 750 when the latest boarding house becomes fully operational. Among the Old Boys are Peter Cook, Ted Dexter, Andrew Straus, Brough Scott, Nigel Twiston-Davis and Lord Scarman.

“Sports plays a major part of what the boys do here,” said Adam, merely confirming my long-standing jealousy.

Honour and a privilege

Honour and a privilege

“They are out four afternoons a week, plus Saturdays and when we are playing against our big ‘rival’ schools there can be 24 rugby teams out at the same time. It’s a great sight.”

With everyone on site including the teaching staff, who all live in school houses, retaining a school bubble is easier than for some.

“We are a campus school, spread over 800 acres, so we don’t have the same worries that Eton, Harrow and Winchester, for example, have of boys walking around the town. We are in one massive bubble and with so many sports on offer – touch rugby only at the moment; football, cricket, hockey, athletics, tennis, golf and rowing it means that the boys are nicely spaced out and can enjoy what they are doing,” said Adam, who has been at the school since 2000.

During the March to June lockdown Adam’s regular staff of 19 was reduced to four to enable essential work on the gardens and grounds to be carried out, and two greenkeepers to maintain the school’s nine hole golf course, which has its own membership of 350.

“In many ways it took me back to my days back in 1989 at Stowmarket Golf Club, sitting on a tractor pulling a set of Lloyds gangs. Tranquil times, with no phone, no interruptions. It was quite surreal, but quite pleasant at the same time,” he recalled.

“Then it dawned on us that the boys weren’t coming back for the summer term and that we were, therefore, not going to have any cricket, and the mood went the other way. Everyone got a bit down and the implications of what was happening began to hit home. It was a really odd summer.

“At times we were wondering where it was all leading and whether the boys would be coming back in September.

“We are in a much more fortunate position now and, as a school, we are the fullest we have ever been. We only have 10 or 12 of our international students who are currently distance learning.”

Honour and a privilege

Honour and a privilege

Staff gradually began returning and the Grounds Team had a full complement by mid September, when work on cricket pitches began in earnest in preparation for matches later in the year.

“The Old Boys played a Twenty20 last week against another school and there are another few fixtures planned for the next few weeks,” said Adam, speaking the day after the Prime Minister had announced further restrictions which could stretch well into 2021.

“Our plan was to go to play touch rugby until half term in October and then go to rugby after half term at the beginning of November.

What we’ve heard now is that that is probably not going to happen and we will continue to play touch rugby or go to football or hockey.

As a school we are very keen that every boy does something every day – we can’t have them sitting around their boarding houses,” said Adam, whose advice to anyone new to school groundsmanship is to get involved with the school as much as possible. He himself coaches cricket and football.

The pandemic came on the back of a period of weather which had had Adam bemoaning the wet weather of last winter and spring.

“We are always in the hands of Mother Nature and she was working against us but ironically she then worked with us for a long time. We had a hot dry spell in April to May. It was a Godsend. If there had been a flush we would have been in all sorts of trouble trying to keep on top of things with our reduced numbers. Then there was a flush in August which was brilliant which got everything up and running.”

It is possible to give the weather credit for doing its best to assist there are many more elements which have gone towards the improved standards that can be seen at schools up and down the country.

I do wonder what Jim Arthur would be thinking now, with all the technology that is available. Things have move on massively in the last 20 years and we are lucky to have all the tools in the tool box that we need to create the top sports surfaces we want for the boys to play sport on,” said Adam, who name checked the Koro and Primo Maxx as two of the significant developments in recent years.

That ability to produce surfaces across a range of sports is one of the things which marks a top school and university groundsman out from the crowd. Radley is just completing a five year deal with Toro for machinery while what can’t be done with the machinery in house – Koroing is carried out by ALS, who have been working at the school as long as Adam has been there.

“Being multi skilled is what keeps us all in the job but you grow into some of those skills. For example, cricket and rugby pitches were easy, but I didn’t know much about astro pitches when I started. You grow into those roles.

“The nice thing about the groundsmen on the circuit is that there is competitiveness to do our best but not with each other. Some do great jobs on much smaller budgets than I have, and probably do a better job but ultimately everyone is always judged on the cricket season,” said Adam, who added that he and his Deputy would visit other grounds two or three times a season to watch games and share thoughts and ideas with fellow groundsmen.

All the guys are pulling hard to produce the best surfaces they can and it is fantastic for the industry.”

Honour and a privilege

Honour and a privilege

It is an industry, however, that Adam feels is not supported as well as it should be.

“We’ve never been well supported by the organisations and we’ve always had to fend for ourselves, but I could talk about that for two weeks,” said Adam, who added that a notable exception was ICL who host an annual Schools’ Seminar.

As an explanation, Adam points to the fact that other sectors have a much higher profile with the top football and rugby groundsmen having their work seen on television on a weekly basis during the season.

“Whereas here, nobody sees our work apart from the boys, their parents and ourselves. That said we don’t crave that sort of exposure.”

Adam considers himself extremely privileged to be working at such an extraordinary place, a place where work on the sports surfaces has to be combined with maintaining the grounds of the numerous properties in the Radley portfolio.

The summer is the time when many staff come and go and we have to ensure that their gardens are neat and tidy, so it is a major project for the gardening team. We’ve just finished laying 3,000 square metres of turf around the new Boarding House.”

Variety is very much the spice of life and Adam is grateful to his superb team – many sportsmen in their own right – who, in addition to being skilled gardeners, greenkeepers and groundsmen, contribute to a great team spirit.

Looking ahead Adam see the industry flattening out over the next five year.

“I can’t see companies investing millions in producing a new machine at the moment because they are not going to sell too many,” said Adam, while acknowledging that the move towards hybrid and electric will be maintained.

Despite the pandemic, and the uncertainty caused, Adam sees a great future ahead for the school, while I’m hoping to do some sort of Benjamin Button so I can go back and enjoy all the benefits of being a boarding school boy.