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Be blown away by Makita 40V

Be blown away by Makita 40V: Leading power tool manufacturer Makita UK has expanded its range of powerful XGT cordless machines with the launch of the UB001G XGT 40VMax Brushless Blower. The UB001G delivers the high output professionals need to tackle more demanding applications with ease.

The UB001G makes light work of high-demand tasks thanks to its brushless motor that means it can deliver high no load speeds (up to 23,000rpm) and air volume (up to 16.0m3min). In boost mode the UB001G also has a maximum blowing force of 17N, which is more than enough to handle larger quantities of garden debris.

Be blown away by Makita 40V

Be blown away by Makita 40V

For optimal operation, the UB001G features variable speed control that allows users to adjust the output depending on the task. In addition, the cruise control function enables users to lock the variable speed control trigger at the desired output level. Constant speed control also works to maintain output and maximise efficiency.

The UB001G has a three-stage telescopic long nozzle, making it suitable for a wide range of projects. Like all XGT machines, it has also been designed so that it is resistant to water splashes, which is ideal for those working outside in unpredictable weather.

The UB001G is lightweight and compact, keeping user fatigue to a minimum and enabling single-handed operation. To improve user safety, the UB001G produces low noise emissions.

Mark Earles, Business Development Manager for garden machinery at Makita said: “This is an exciting product launch for Makita, as it marks the further expansion of our XGT 40VMax range. The UB001G joins a growing range of XGT models directly suited to the landscaping and outdoor maintenance sectors. We are delighted to be able to offer professionals a selection of powerful machines that they can use to tackle more demanding outdoor tasks.”

To find out more and see Makita’s full range of garden machinery products visit: www.makitauk.com.

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Updating events to be run online

Updating events to be run online: At the start of each year the Amenity Forum run a series of free updating events for all involved or with an interest in amenity management.

These normally take place at venues across the UK and have been very well received. Given the current restrictions, opportunity to run these in the traditional way has been lost but the Forum are going ahead with them but online. The same technology will be used as for the Forum’s very successful conference held in October.

Updating events to be run online

Updating events to be run online

The format will be very similar to normal, with the programme starting at 10.15 and concluding by 12.30pm. There will be opportunity for questions and all the current issues will be covered. 2021 sees the UK fully depart from the EEU bringing with its new regulations on plant protection products. The UK is also issuing a new national action plan relating to amenity management in 2021. Just these two items present challenges and opportunities. The events also give opportunity to catch up on new developments and innovations and what is required to meet the Amenity Standard, set to become a requirement in future.

Whilst the content of each event will be broadly the same, each will have a particular nation focus. The dates are given below, and each event is free to attend but pre-registration is required. If you would like to register or receive further information, please contact admin@amenityforum.net Full programmes for each event will be available early in 2021.

February 9th            England

February 11th      Wales

February 23rd         England

February 25th     Northern Ireland

March 4th             Scotland

Professor John Moverley OBE, Independent Chairman of the Forum, said ‘As I often say, what happens in amenity management impacts upon every UK citizen every day seeking to provide safe and healthy spaces fit for purpose. The importance of this has never been more apparent in the last year. Our Updating events are always popular and relevant, but this year is set to be more than ever. There is much change around and how we address this will be vital’

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Could you be the new BASIS FACTS Chairperson?

Could you be the new BASIS FACTS Chairperson?: BASIS is seeking to recruit a new Chairperson for the BASIS FACTS Advisory Committee, starting in March 2020.

The FACTS Committee comprises of representatives from a range of academic, advisory and commercial organisations, which the new Chair will oversee.

Could you be the new BASIS FACTS Chairperson?

BASIS CEO, Stephen Jacob, explains the FACTS Committee is taking forward some important changes to the FACTS scheme, to ensure professional standards are kept up to date and aligned with developments in the technical, regulatory and policy environment.

“We’re looking for a Chair that can manage robust debate around the ever-changing landscape and gain buy-in from members, as well as the bodies they represent,” says Stephen.

“The Chair will be responsible for setting the agenda, liaising with the BASIS team and ensuring that Committee members views are heard and acted upon.”

He says the Board is looking for an independent candidate who is not involved in the industries which BASIS serves.

“The new Chair needs to be an experienced manager who can demonstrate being a team player. It would also be beneficial to have experience of land-based or related industries, but this isn’t vital,” he adds.

The role requires chairing a minimum of two meetings a year, which are held in Peterborough, but the candidate can be based anywhere in the UK. In addition, the successful individual will be appointed as a Trustee of BASIS. This involves joining a further three Board meetings each year.

The FACTS Chair will be appointed by the BASIS Board of Trustees for an initial three-year term, which can be renewed annually for a further four years.

Outgoing FACTS Chair, Susannah Bolton, says she has thoroughly enjoyed the role.

“I have relished working with an engaged, expert Committee and a dedicated team at BASIS, in an area where I feel we can really make a difference and build trust in our industry,” says Susannah.

For an informal and confidential discussion to learn more about the position, please email Stephen Jacob on stephen@basis-reg.co.uk to arrange a mutually convenient time.

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Can Europe be pesticide-free by 2050?

Can Europe be pesticide-free by 2050?: With the ecological consequences of food production and agricultural practices coming under increased scrutiny, and being reassessed and remodelled, a leading biopesticide technology developer believes Europe can be free of its reliance upon toxic pesticides by 2050. 

Emerging advances in biopesticides and biostimulants – eco-friendly, nature-based alternatives to the harsh, chemical pesticides we have used for many decades to control pests & diseases and increase yield – are transforming the industry. And they are ushering in a new era of cleaner agronomy that could see Europe being pesticide free in the next 30 years, envisions Dr Minshad Ansari Founder and CEO of Bionema Ltd, UK. Bionema Ltd, a Wales-based BioTech firm, develops natural products to protect crops from pests and diseases and reduce the use of synthetic pesticides.

Can Europe be pesticide-free by 2050?

Minshad chaired the Biopesticides Summit, which was held in July 2019, in Swansea. The Summit gathered hundreds of policy-makers and experts from industry and academia, to discuss the most pressing issues and threats facing crop production today and, crucially, the need to bring more sustainable alternatives to marketplace swiftly.

“We are living in very crucial times for food production and land management. Safe, responsible and sustainable food production is a cornerstone of the continued survival of life, and some of the most exciting solutions to the biggest problems facing food production are to be found within nature,” said Minshad.

“These biopesticides are, in many cases, already being developed or used successfully, and others are well within our grasp. In fact, I believe Europe can be free of its reliance upon toxic pesticides by 2050.

“We are at a point in time where the public is more aware of, or more vocal about their expectations, when it comes to the impact the practices of industry upon our environment. And public scrutiny is a very powerful driver of the practices of the biopesticide industry.

“It is very clear that we have reached a watershed moment. There is a growing acceptance among food producers that practices need to be modernised. There is a groundswell of public awareness that we cannot continue to lean upon traditional, damaging pesticides, some of which we have been using for many decades, to support production,” he said.

“The long-term negative effects of using chemical pesticides on the fertility of our land, and the threat this brings to our survival, is well documented. Also, health experts and scientists have been flagging up links between pesticide use and a host of diseases including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, brain, prostate and kidney cancers, for many years.”

The World Health Organisation reports that pesticides are responsible for up to five million cases of poisoning each year, of which 20,000 are lethal. And, it says, pesticides affect children and infants disproportionately.

Can Europe be pesticide-free by 2050?

“The evidence to support wholesale change is there, credible science is there, the will is there, and, to some extent, the funding is increasingly there to ensure efficacious new products to fill the gap in the market created by the removal of pesticides. The remaining hurdles are largely around the slow pace of regulation and licencing these products for the marketplace,” he added.

Some of Europe’s largest growers are already reaping the benefits of using non-toxic alternatives to chemical pesticides. In Spain’s notorious ‘Sea of Plastic’, the 30,000 hectare corner of Almeria which produces most of the fruits and vegetables that are consumed throughout Europe, sachets of miniscule mites are used, which are draped from pepper, tomato and courgette plants, and attack the parasites that threaten these crops. In fact, the use of insecticides in Almeria has, according to local authorities, dropped by 40 percent since 2007.

Dr Ansari says: “The biopesticide movement has experienced a very interesting development arc over the past few decades. Our use of insecticides surged in the 1960s, at a time when, at least in the Western World, there was a public awakening to the fact that our chemical-laden environment was perhaps hostile to health and life.

“However, global population pressures have driven producers to increase their output and to find ever more efficient ways of meeting demand. Insecticides have done much to help meet those needs. But, they have done so at great cost to human health, to the environment and to the long-term viability of our soil. Growers are also having to meet the man-made challenge of crop resistance to those chemicals we have been using so liberally for years.”

Firms like Bionema, Ecolibrium Biologicals, Maxstim, Aphea.Bio and many others, often working in collaboration with researchers at key universities, represent a growing number of experts who are spearheading change.

“There is still work to be done to educate farmers, many of whom are in a holding pattern of disinfecting their land with fungicides, and using other chemical agents, simply because this is what they have always done, and because these chemicals are being recommended and sold to them by companies they have dealt with over many years and which they trust.

“However, the biopesticide market is expected to grow from $3 billion dollars in 2016 to almost $10 billion dollars by 2025. Around 30% of plant protection tools now available are biological, and more than 50% of new regulatory applications are biological products.

“But the regulatory barriers are complex, and they are consistent challenges. They require the efficacy of a biopesticide to be quantified and proved, they require the biopesticide to pose minimal or zero risk, toxicological and eco-toxicological evaluations, and other stringent tests. These tests have been put in place for chemical pesticides, but they are perhaps not appropriate for biopesticides. Meeting the current requirements can be prohibitively expensive for biopesticide developers, many of which are SMEs.”

GSK Couldn’t Be Without ELMO

GSK couldn’t be without ELMO: British multinational pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), has explained the benefits of having adopted Husqvarna Automower® technology to maintain the green spaces around its Global head office in Brentford over the past three years.

GSK house in Brentford has relied on ELMO, a robotic lawnmower manufactured by Husqvarna and named by GSK staff, to work unassisted and maintain a large lawn area surrounding its headquarters.

GSK couldn’t be without ELMO

ELMO stands for Electronic Lawn Mowing Operative and is a Husqvarna Automower® – a robotic lawnmower which is able to maintain green spaces up to 5000mper machine. Installed in 2017 by Sodexo, GSK’s grounds maintenance provider, the robotic mower has quietly gone about its business and without disturbing office staff, cutting little and often through its random mowing pattern, ensuring that grass of GSK house remains a lush, healthy green.

The Husqvarna Automower® has freed up time, allowing the grounds staff to spend more hours on maintaining other, more labour intensive areas of the GSK site. Husqvarna Automower® is an environmentally friendly machine and means that the team now does not need to use as many petrol machines in order to keep the grounds looking pristine.

Sodexo’s Senior Facilities Service Manager for GSK, Michelle Chapman, commented: “ELMO has truly become part of the family at GSK house – our staff just love watching the robot work and GSK couldn’t be without ELMO now.

“For us, the Husqvarna Automower® means time saved and an environmentally way for us to manage the green spaces at our headquarters whilst improving the lawn appearance. It gives the grounds team more time to focus on other, more crucial things and the fact that it’s silent in its working means it does not disturb staff when cutting the grass.”

The little and often cutting principle of Husqvarna Automower® means the mower feeds micro-clippings back into the soil as natural fertiliser and its random mowing pattern improves lawn quality. The extremely low noise levels also ensures that the machine can work away without disturbing people.

UK Manager – Husqvarna Professional, Kevin Ashmore, commented: “Sodexo’s close relationship with Husqvarna was key in them being one of the first in the UK to trial Husqvarna Automower® in public spaces. The result was that GSK Brentwood recommended the Husqvarna Automower® to many of its main Global sites.”

Husqvarna has an impressive list of commercial installations across the UK, ranging from municipalities (Edinburgh, London & Glasgow), botanic gardens, multi-national headquarters, stately homes, sports facilities, universities & schools and zoos & animal parks.

To learn more about its technology and for more information on the Husqvarna Automower® range visit: http://www.husqvarna.com/uk/products/robotic-lawn-mowers/

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A Great Place To Be

A Great Place To Be: Scott MacCallum catches up with Phil Helmn, the man with the most diverse job in turf management…

I often interview turf managers at multiple use venues and marvel at their ability to switch from preparing a high quality cricket pitch to mastering the intricacies of marking out a 400 metre athletic track. However, I have just spoken with a turf manager for whom no turf related scenario is out of bounds.

A Great Place To Be

Phil Helmn is General Manager Sports Turf Grounds and Gardens at the iconic and wonderful Goodwood Estate and in addition to managing the golf courses, the cricket pitches, and all the areas around the famous house, at the hotel he also has kennels under his remit, and has to ensure that the grass airfield is functioning well and entirely safe for aircraft to land.

Oh yes, and he must ensure that the grass in the Estate fields operates at maximum yield for the cattle and sheep to eat while at the same time ensuring that the surface is strong enough, and of a suitable mixture, to recover from hosting marquees and structures which form part of the many huge events held at Goodwood.

Unless anyone can tell me differently I can’t think of any turf manager dealing with such a diverse portfolio, even allowing for the fact that Phil’s extensive remit doesn’t stretch as far as that other iconic Goodwood feature – the racecourse.

“That might be true, but I can’t honestly say I’m winning at any of it,” laughed Phil, for whom the comfort zone was very much golf course management until his talents, ability to take on challenges and manage a large team was identified by the Goodwood Directors and his job grew.

“We are, however, all working hard to ensure we get the best results we can.” Phil arrived at Goodwood five years ago as Course Manager for the Parks and the Downs 18 hole courses.

“I was promoted two years later and now have a team of 30 full time and 15 seasonals in the summer to look after all aspects of our grounds and sports facilities. The whole site is 12,000 acres, much of it forestry, but that’s a heck of a lot and even with 45 staff in the summer it’s not really enough. We could really do with more.”

Phil is in charge of six departments in total – Simon Berry is Head Greenkeeper for the Parks Course; Rob Dyer for the Downs Course; Andy Boxall is the Head Groundsman for the Airfield and the Main Grounds; Richard Geffin is the Head Groundsman for the cricket; Adrian Gale is the Head Mechanic and Georgina Page is the Head Gardener. He himself reports to Adam Waterworth, Goodwood’s Sports Director. Ultimately they all report to the Duke of Richmond, whose vision was the current Goodwood Estate back in the early 1990s and whose ability to harness a high quality team made it all happen.

A Great Place To Be

Phil meets with each Departmental Head on a one to one basis every week and while keeping on top of things is manageable, balancing the ying and the yang of the job is a task.

“A golf green has to perform differently to a cricket wicket and they both have to perform differently to a grass runway. The lawns are all different too, and then there are the fields where there is a conflict between parking 10,000 cars for a Festival of Speed or a Revival, and having grazing sheep and cattle. I have to learn about the right grass for a dairy herd so that they produce more milk or that sheep can be sold to market earlier.”

As for that runway, “MJ Abbott were contracted to level it recently. It is predominately rye grass with elements of the new tetraploids to assist with wear and tear,” he revealed.

While the diversity of challenge is what keeps his juices flowing it was golf which was his calling card into Goodwood.

“I grew up with golf, my dad was the pro at Morecambe Golf Club and I went to Myerscough College to study turf management,” explained Phil, whose career took him to the States and Cyprus before working on a new project at Heythrop Park, in Chipping Norton. From there to Goodwood, initially to manage the two golf courses. Phil attributes much of his success at Heythrop to the quality of his greens.

This is where he worked initially with David Snowden of Agronomic Services Ltd. With this target in mind, when he arrived at Goodwood, he chose to call upon Agronomic Services Ltd once more and work again with David Snowden, whom he describes as an extended member of the team.

“He’s a very clever man, and while he doesn’t wear a Goodwood t-shirt we definitely see him as one of our team. Phil jokes, “perhaps we should get him a Goodwood t-shirt.”

“The mind set I had at Heythrop was that it was all about the greens. If you can get them right most greenkeepers will tell you that you are pretty much on a winner. So, with David’s expertise, we worked out the best programmes based on Ana-Lync and we really got them singing. It was satisfying to see that when I left, they were in lovely condition,” explained Phil.

A Great Place To Be

“Coming to Goodwood I had a great working relationship with David and knew that the products he used would definitely make a difference. Hey presto we’re five years in and we have achieved what we were looking for from our greens.”

“Heythrop was a complete new build 80-20 fen dress to a USGA spec. Here The Downs course is on pure sand on top of a chalk hill so it’s extremely challenging. The Parks course is a different beast, a standard 70-30 mix and much easier to manage. We describe it as a mellow pensioner whereas the Downs is a temperamental teenager.

With two courses which are almost polar opposites Agronomic Services Ltd had to find two different types of solutions for separate growing conditions and different soils on the two courses, which each raised their own unique challenges. David works very closely with Simon and Rob communicating on a regular basis and bringing his expertise, combined with the work and day to day knowledge of the Head Greenkeepers and their teams.

Producing the desired results certainly didn’t involve a one-size- fits-all approach. Regular course walks with David, followed by soil and water testing utilising Ana-Lync for reporting and analysis, and then the creation a bespoke roadmap (Turf Action Plan) for each course, individually. The constant and combined monitoring of the course by the Head Greenkeepers and the team and the technical support, all come together to create excellent results.

The Downs was tackled with a combination of RZA Ceramic Granules, Eon Bio and soil enhancers, which enabled ‘tied up’ elements to become unlocked and therefore available in the rootzone.

“The products are great. They do exactly what they say on the tin and with David’s skill in combining them, it means that we can fine tune to exactly what we need. They are definitely the Rolls Royce of products – not cheap but I made savings elsewhere within my budget so I knew that I could have the control we need using the Floratine foliar feeds, combined with Agronomics soil liquids.”

While the work with Agronomic Services allows them to control the controllables Phil knows there is much more he can’t do anything about. “I know sports turf people will be able to empathise with me. My moods swings are tied in to the weather. If it’s good grass growing weather I’m usually pretty chipper but if it’s too dry or too cold I’m in a much lower mood.

“But what I’ve noticed most here is that if I’m praying for rain because I want to put on some fertiliser on the golf course I also need it to be dry over on the runway or the fields because I want those areas to be dry to peak. There is no perfect weather now for me now there are so many different areas with different needs.”

A Great Place To Be

However, with a glass half full rather than the reverse approach, Phil is adjusting his thinking.

“I’ve learned that whatever the weather it doesn’t matter. If it’s wet it’s going to suit the golf and if it’s dry it’s ok because I can do some topdressing. The area we look after is so huge each area will need different things. No matter the weather it’s ideal for something! So, to be honest, it’s fine I just have to take it as it comes.”

With the great and the good, not to mention the “A” list stars converging on Goodwood on a regular basis, particularly for the Festival of Speed and the Revival events, Phil has to pinch himself that he is a key part in the success of it all.

“It’s probably the best place I’ve ever worked, and I have worked at some lovely places and I’ve had a blast in my career, but the culture here on the Estate is fantastic, the diversity of what we deal with is also fantastic. But it is the culture which has got me the most.

It is very nurturing full of excitement and enthusiasm – let’s work out how we can do it, rather than thinking we can’t.

“It’s all positive vibes and a ‘Let’s go get ’em” attitude and it suits my personality and character perfectly.”

That’s not to say that he revels in the excitement of mixing with Formula One drivers and Hollywood stars. He never switches off fully.

“The events are wonderful here but, of course, like any greenkeeper will tell you, you walk around with a notepad thinking this will need doing tomorrow and I just get the lads to do that. Maybe a marquee could be moved six inches because it’s nudging up against a hedge. It goes with the territory. Even when you are off duty you are thinking ‘That’s going to be a mess when they take that tent down’.”

Speaking with Phil you do get the feeling that no matter what he is left to clean up at Goodwood he will do so with a broad smile on his face.

Don’t Be Fooled By Voltage Claims

Don’t Be Fooled By Voltage Claims: It is a common misconception that the higher the voltage – the better the machine; but it couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to performance. Les Malin, Managing Director of Etesia UK, who distribute Pellenc battery-powered equipment explains why this is the case.

Groundscare professionals could be forgiven for opting to choose a new battery powered machine based on the high voltage it offers – after all, most marketing strategies tend to shout the loudest when it comes to voltage. However, what often goes under the radar is that the voltage of a battery purely indicates how much potential is in a battery, but that potential is not a measure of energy.

Don’t Be Fooled By Voltage Claims

Voltage will only tell you how fast that power tool will want to operate, it doesn’t tell you how strongly it will operate and it will not tell you how long it will operate for. You can think of volts as horsepower for cordless tools. The higher the volt, the more power it can use for higher drain applications.

However, you can have all the voltage you want in a machine but with low amperage the machine would not be much use at all. Think of a small hose pipe struggling to squeeze a large amount of water through it. You would have low volume and high pressure.

Alternatively, the same could be said for a machine that has high amperage and low voltage. It would be the same as having an extremely large water pipe which only manages to trickle a few drops of water through it.

The bottom line is that it takes two to tango. For a cordless tool, you really need volts and amps to work together for higher demand applications. You will need them to both flow at a similar rate and that is exactly what you get with Pellenc technology.

Pellenc significantly leads the way when it comes to the volts/amps balancing act and boasts 43,6 volts and 35,2 amps. This combination of more power and more runtime makes Pellenc equipment the market leader.

As a result, operators using Pellenc equipment have leverage over their competitors. They will have the latest generation and top performing technology meaning that their tools will run with more power for a longer period of time.

Furthermore, they can start earlier, work later, and work closer to schools and hospitals due to the reduced noise. Contractors using Pellenc battery-powered equipment can also promote the fact that they are using market leading technology and are cutting down on noise pollution and emissions, and, as a result, position their businesses as environmentally friendly, and, in turn, charge more for their services.

Pellenc products are exclusively distributed in the UK by Etesia UK.

For further information, please contact Etesia UK on 01295 680120 or visit www.pellencuk.com

You can also follow Pellenc on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @PellencUK for much more news, reviews and insightful views.

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Be Pitch Perfect with SCH

Be Pitch Perfect with SCH: The pressure is on for sports ground professionals to create the perfect playing surface whilst sticking to a budget – not always an easy task.

Artificial pitch care specialists SCH (Supplies) Ltd are delighted with the opportunity to sponsor the SALTEX 2018 Best Managed Artificial Surface award. As manufacturers of both real and artificial pitch care machinery, the choice of award was an easy one to make. The SCH surface care range will leave your surfaces in award winning condition at very affordable prices.

Be Pitch Perfect with SCH

The Artificial Surface Grooming Rake (Ref: ASR2) is designed to carry out routine maintenance on artificial playing surfaces with a sand base. The two rows of spring tines tease through the playing surface to remove surface compaction and aid drainage, and the trailing brush will level and groom the play area. A single pass allows for the two operations to be carried out simultaneously, which enable groundsmen to prepare and maintain the pitch to a high standard in very little time.

Each working row of tines may be lifted out of work individually, and a weight tray is incorporated in the design in order that top weight may be added to aid penetration on heavily compacted surfaces. This simple grooming unit may be towed behind 13HP tractors and above, with a variety of sizes available.

The Triangular Brush (Ref: TMB2) is a small, basic machine which gives artificial and natural grass areas that vital ‘scratch’ in between major services. The wheels on the upper side of the brush make it an easy task to transport it to the storage area – simply turn the brush onto the wheels.

SCH products have simple designs for low maintenance. The robust welded steel frames and their dedicated spare parts team will help ensure the life of the machine year after year.

SCH (Supplies) Ltd manufacture a wide range of both artificial surface and natural grass care systems, consisting of many different widths and attachments. With over 250 products on their website, and a selection of hand held and towed rakes, brushes and drag mats in their brochure, pitches of all sizes and budgets can achieve award winning results.

Contact SCH on 01473 328272, email sales@schsupplies.co.uk, or visit their website to find out more www.schsupplies.co.uk

SCH (Supplies) Ltd, proud sponsors of the SALTEX 2018 Best Maintained Artificial Surface award.

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Best To ‘Be Safe’ With Makita

Best To ‘Be Safe’ With Makita: Several hundred students attending Merrist Wood College, a multi-award winning, 400 acre estate and ‘outdoor classroom’ in Guildford, Surrey, are benefiting from Makita UK’s invaluable Be Safe training modules.  The College specialises in a variety of subjects from animal welfare and arboriculture, to landscaping, garden design, equine management, sport, Public Services and horticulture.  For students on the land-based courses Makita UK, Britain’s number one professional power tool manufacturer, has started to deliver a series of Be Safe modules in grounds maintenance, landscaping and horticulture.

These informative 1.5 hour Outdoor Power Equipment (OPE) Correct and Safe Use modules, which carry the LANTRA Awards Approved Training Provider badge of recognition, provide a grounding in machine selection using the right tool for the job, safe use and correct control of Makita machines used for grounds care, horticulture production and amenity horticulture.

Best To 'Be Safe' With Makita

“It is important to give these students an easy-to-understand course in basic machinery safety and selection,” says Kevin Brannigan, marketing manager, Makita UK.  “The students will receive some practical training during their courses but it is vital that they appreciate the risks and processes related to powerful equipment such as hedge trimmers, brush cutters, line trimmers and many more pieces of equipment in our Outdoor Be Safe seminars which brings a fresh approach to this important training.”

The first Outdoor Be Safe modules have been delivered and several more are scheduled in the months ahead.  From January 2019 and onwards the October 2018 apprenticeship intake will also benefit in the course.  This training is completely free of charge and certificates of training are awarded by Makita for all participating students.

“After attending the Makita Be Safe workshops our land-based students were given generous hands-on experience testing some of Makita’s leading cordless machinery including lawnmowers, chainsaws, strimmers.  Linking with Makita UK has been really valuable for our students in showcasing safety but also the direction of quieter and more sustainable options for their core equipment needs,” says Richard Dewing, Associate Principal Curriculum and Head of Campus – Merrist Wood.

Simultaneously, Makita’s highly popular Construction Be Safe modules are being delivered at Guildford College of Further Education, Guildford, Surrey (another college alongside Merrist Wood in the Guildford College group).  These are being delivered to students attending the plumbing, electrical and construction courses, with day-release apprentices also attending from January 2019 onwards.

Bookings can be made by downloading the fax-back form from the Makita website or email leads@makitabesafe.com.  Makita will contact the College in each case and make arrangements directly.

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Can The MLS Be World-Class On 3G?

Can The MLS Be World-Class On 3G?: Reliably unconventional, Zlatan Ibrahimovic spurned a $100m offer from China in order to take a $1.5m-per-year offer from the Los Angeles Galaxy, according to Sports Illustrated. But will the striker be eccentric enough to turn up for an away game against the New England Revolution?

After his matchwinning debut in last Saturday’s Los Angeles derby – the most deranged 90 minutes in MLS history – everyone wants to see the Swede play.
Still, the 36-year-old has recently returned from a serious knee injury, so Ibrahimovic and the Galaxy’s coaching staff will have judgment calls to make later in the season as the league’s most famous name tries to stay healthy. The Galaxy have four MLS fixtures on artificial turf scheduled between June and October (though Ibrahimovic may yet  play at this summer’s World Cup). Fearing injury, some veteran stars have skipped games on artificial surfaces over the years, dealing blows to MLS’s reputation.

Can A League Be World-Class On 3G?

The only time Thierry Henry played on the widely-reviled artificial turf of Gillette Stadium, the home of the Revolution, was a play-off game in 2014 that turned out to be the last match of his career. Didier Drogba also sought to avoid fake grass. David Beckham, usually so emollient in interviews, was an anti-turf absolutist: “Every game, every team should have grass, without a doubt,” he told reporters in 2007.

We wait to see whether a man who once slammed France merely because he thought a referee had a bad game will have any thoughts to share on a subject that tends to provoke strong emotions.

The league added to its synthetic collection last year when Atlanta and Minnesota  – who face off last Saturday – joined Vancouver, Seattle, Portland and New England. (Minnesota’s permanent home, set to open next year, will have grass).

This clearly matters to the players. An ESPN anonymous survey of current MLS members published last month asked whether an artificial surface would influence a player’s decision to join a team: 63% said yes. Perhaps not unrelated, another question asked them to name the toughest place to play in MLS and four of the top eight answers were teams with artificial turf.

Turf wars are commonplace in North America. Earlier this month the cost of laying temporary grass at BC Place was reportedly among the factors that caused Vancouver to withdraw from contention as a host city for the 2026 World Cup bid, while the use of artificial fields at the 2015 Women’s World Cup in Canada was the subject of failed legal action.

True or not, artificial fields are perceived to increase injury risk and enhance home advantage in a league in which road results are notoriously poor. They are freighted with memories of the North American Soccer League’s dire surfaces, and away from Portland, where complex factors influence the choice, are a sign of MLS’s subservience to American football in shared venues.

Pitch variations invite us to define what counts as “authentic”: a perennial concern for MLS, which is adolescent and distinctive yet obsessed with tradition and how it stacks up against more established leagues. In a quest for instant credibility, newborn franchises such as Atlanta and Minnesota drape themselves in Anglicized affectations such as “United” and “Football Club”. The branding glances towards England where, as the Premier League’s rules tersely state: “No League Match shall be played on an Artificial Surface”. It’s an homage to the kind of Euro superclubs who insist on temporary grass pitches being installed over artificial surfaces when they visit the US on summer tours.

Like shoppers at an urban farmers market, fans instinctively prefer organic to genetically-modified ingredients. Still, turf versus grass is habitually presented as a binary opposition when the reality is more nuanced. Enhanced hybrid surfaces where artificial fibres act to strengthen the natural grass are ubiquitous in England’s top-flight. The expectation of competitive imbalance on turf, one 2016 study found, does not reflect the truth.

A good artificial surface may play truer than a lousy natural one and technology is far advanced from the “Astroturf burn” eras, when players who attempted sliding tackles in shorts often looked like they’d just spent 90 minutes in the company of an arsonist. As the Portland Timbers owner, Merritt Paulson, told FourFourTwo last year: “There is a massive difference between the quality of turf fields that you can host a soccer game on, just like there is a very big difference on the quality of a grass pitch for a game.”

And the argument that artificial turf is only for unserious soccer nations is hard to sustain given its presence in Mexico and France in recent years, while in 2016-17, one-third of the Eredivisie’s teams had it (which prompted a revolt from the Dutch players’ union).

For Wilmer Cabrera, the Houston Dynamo head coach, artifice is just another hill to climb in MLS’ undulating landscape. “Here in MLS you have to play on turf and you have to play on grass, you have to travel 5,000 miles back and forth, you have to play in humidity or cold weather, snow or wind,” he said. “Pounding on [an artificial] surface it’s gonna get you more tired, the muscles are going to suffer a little bit more and the joints, but we don’t make any kind of excuses.” Cabrera’s team beat the Timbers 2-1 at Providence Park in last year’s playoffs before losing 3-0 to the Seattle Sounders at CenturyLink Field in the Western Conference finals.

Houston is arguably the cradle of fake grass, since the Astros baseball team popularised it by using AstroTurf in the Astrodome in the 1960s. Despite the city’s brutal summer weather and the multiple teams that use BBVA Compass Stadium, the Dynamo play on grass that, by last year’s postseason, was so badly cut up that it looked like the field had hosted a tunneling contest for moles.

No stranger to the treatment room, Philippe Senderos would have felt wary about joining Houston if their pitch was plastic. “I think knowing that the Houston Dynamo play on grass was definitely a factor [in me joining the club]. If it would had been on turf I would have had to think about it a little bit more,” he said.

Standing on the Dynamo’s verdant practice field, Andrew Wenger took a pragmatic view. “There’s a lot of aspects that goes into making, or considering, a league the best in the world and that’s probably a very small, minute effect,” the veteran attacker said. “Would you rather have everything be on grass? Yes. But is playing in the climate of North America different from other places in the world? That’s also true. So how do you balance all these balls in the air, and making it the best but also dealing with what we’re presented? That’s a big question.”

Looking to the medium- and long-term, extreme weather from climate change may complicate the use of grass pitches in some parts of the continent, while it’s logical to expect that artificial surfaces will continue to improve, blurring the distinction between synthetic and natural. MLS may never be all-grass, and one day, long after Ibrahimovic is gone, maybe that won’t matter.

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