Prevention better than cure

Prevention better than cure: Ian Robson Prosport UK & Ireland Importer/Distributor for Foley United, explains why relief grinding maximises the performance of reels by giving a factory finish every time.

Firstly, why is having sharp cylinders (reels) that are the correct shape so important anyway? The answer is obvious – unhealthy turf brings a whole host of other issues which are costly to correct. Therefore, prevention is a far more economic approach than a cure.

Prevention better than cure

A huge amount of research and development has gone into designing a cutting unit to produce the cleanest cut possible with the least amount of fraying and tissue damage to the plant.

The result is that all manufacturers of grass cutting equipment supply new units with relief ground edges.

Why Relief Grind?

Tests carried out by leading manufacturers have established that relief ground cylinders stay on cut up to three times longer than spun ground ones and require less horse power to drive the unit, resulting in greater fuel efficiency and less stress on the hydraulic power systems. In addition, a relief ground cylinder will withstand the abrasive effects of top dressing far better than one spun ground because the relief edge on both the bedknife and the cylinder allows the top dressing to clear the cutting blades easily, helping to prevent the dulling effect seen on spun only units.

Continual relief grinding also decreases the squeezing and tearing of the grass as the units get dull, and most importantly it allows the cylinder to be returned to a factory specification perfect cylinder as quickly as possible.

The overall cleaner cut achieved by relief grinding gives a better after-cut appearance, increased recovery rate due to the clean cut of the grass and reduces the stress on components because less horsepower is needed to drive the cylinder.

Horse Power Study

As a reel wears flat and loses shape (becomes coned), more stress and strain is put on the cutting systems.

Using the figures from the above study a 5-gang cutting unit with relief can require up to 4.5 HP (5 x 0.88HP = 4.5HP) to drive the cutting units therefore a 35HP engine has 30.5HP remaining to drive the rest of the traction system. A 5-gang unit which has been spun ground only, can require up to 13Hp (5 x 2.59HP = 13HP) leaving only 22HP to drive the rest of the traction system.

So, it has been established that relief grinding your cutting units saves you money not only by reducing workshop maintenance time with far fewer grinds but also through a reduction in fuel costs and replacement parts.

It is also important to acknowledge what relief grinding does for a reel. By removing metal from the trailing edge of the blade it forms a relief angle, which reduces the contact area of the cutting edges, resulting in less friction, longer wear life. Typically, when a new mower is delivered the reels will be a perfect cylindrical shape. Over time the blade naturally loses shape, and the sharp edge it arrives with becomes flat and dull, often meaning the reel is no longer a perfect cylinder from end to end. This is referred to as ‘coning’ and a natural point for grinding to take place.

The decision then sits between touch-up and spin grinding, or relief grinding. If there is sufficient relief still on the reel then a quick touch-up is fine but once more than 50% of the relief has gone my advice would be to relief grind again and remove any coning. Failure to remove the coning will eventually be seen in an uneven cut appearance of your turf.

But, the main question mentioned at the beginning comes back; how to get the most out of your workshop resources by choosing the most effective method to sharpen your cutting units. The answer is to trust the manufacturers judgement and return the reels as close to the original factory standard as possible, and for that, relief grinding is the best option. The bonus is this method also maximises performance and gives the best cut.

Sustainability And Pollution Prevention

Sustainability And Pollution Prevention: Much has been said over recent years about the merits of water recycling wash systems to prevent pollution and conserve water. Here Bill Whittingham reports on recent developments.

Having visited many golf and sports facilities I’ve learned and seen how machinery wash-off is handled. I’ve also heard the thoughts of those responsible for wash-off. It is quite clear that virtually all know of the legislation relating to pollution prevention and the fines that can be imposed; much of which is regularly regurgitated in the trade press. All those I met are also aware of the growing need for water conservation and many have taken action to address both matters. What is apparent, and somewhat surprising however, is that despite this knowledge and concern, there are many establishments still with wash-off facilities that are, quite frankly illegal, causing pollution and wasting vast quantities of water.

Sustainability And Pollution Prevention

The Groundwater (England and Wales) Regulations 2009 and The Water Environment (Groundwater and Priority Substances) (Scotland) Regulations 2009 were enshrined in law in 2009 (10 years ago!) and, more recently the EU Water Framework Directive has been implemented. (Incidentally, whether or not Brexit is achieved matters not, as the requirements have been made law in the UK). So why the complacency and inaction? The ideal way to achieve legislative compliance and save water is to install an approved water recycling system. (i.e. WTL certified). Despite the best endeavours of the leading manufacturers, such a system is not considered cheap and, apart from the water savings, does not contribute to “the bottom line”! So, some take the attitude that they’ll take their chances and hope they are not inspected. To my mind this is not sensible thinking. Articles have appeared in the golf / turf maintenance press reporting just that; a golf club being visited by the EA and told they suspected pollution from the club’s washpad. The club in question responded rapidly, recognising its environmental responsibilities, and installed a below ground washpad water recycling system, satisfying all requirements.

If cost is an issue, there are options offered by the main suppliers of recycling wash systems to help; Spreading payments, retro-fitting or, in the case of ClearWater, carrying out a self-install with each and every UK made system delivered new, direct to site from the factory. One company, not offering self-install, does offer above ground refurbished units however.

So, which way do you go; above ground or below ground? The choice is yours but there are distinct differences between, what most consider to be, the two leading contenders. Both do the same job: treat contaminated water by biological treatment producing clean recycled water. One system offers simple, effective engineering with few moving parts (less to go wrong!) and gravity feed to the system. The other system relies on more elaborate engineering and the pumping of washwater into the system.

Press coverage of late appears to have focused on an above ground system, so it seems only reasonable, to redress the balance and look at the merits of a below ground one. One point that is raised frequently and that some, including myself, have difficulty understanding is the statement regarding a certain above ground system: “… can see what’s going on” The inference supposedly being that below ground is not to be preferred. Now, unless I’ve been missing something for many years, I understood that, in the main, waste water treatment is carried out below ground and is in surely the safest location? How many separators, septic tanks and sewage plants do you see above ground? However, if you really want to see “what’s going on” you can in a ClearWater system; simply open the turret covers and take a look. You can actually witness exactly what’s going on; effective treatment!

So what advantages does this particular system have? Being below ground means that it is unobtrusive; away from prying eyes and vandalism. It is also safe being encased in concrete (no worries about leaks!) and operating at a temperature of 14.5 – 16.5 °C. This is important as a stable operating environment means that the unique micro-organisms perform better and also allays fears of Legionella and other harmful bacteria forming. (The threshold for Legionella to form and survive is stated as 20°C. Above ground systems can endure much higher internal temperatures than this in the sun!). Below ground means water flows into the system by gravity via a simple grass trap, so no complicated sumps, pumps and chutes. Valuable washpad space is not required either to site a ClearWater system and a key decision maker seems to be that it’s not unsightly but looks good; with just four modest green turret tops sited at ground level, that’s all anyone sees; impressive!

Self-install certainly does seem to be popular (over 70% of ClearWater’s customers take this cost-effective route). Full and detailed installation instructions are issued and I’ve seen some splendid installations that installers are justifiably proud of. Take a recent installation of a ClearWater system at Brookmans Park Golf Club for example. Asset & Equipment Manager Nick Billington, not happy with the above ground system and repeated maintenance issues, removed that system and used the concrete plinth to good effect; he installed his diesel tank on it and created a pollution prevention area! Installing the ClearWater system was easy and straightforward he says and further cost savings were made by modifications to the existing washpad. Nick is pleased with the team’s work and the ClearWater system.

Buying a washpad water recycling system is a worthwhile investment and will ensure that the costly kit you have invested in will be washed so much more effectively. (A ClearWater system would cost less than 20% of the price of a typical fairway mower by the way!) However, to ensure you spend wisely, do research the systems thoroughly, see them in action and talk to users. To help you to make comparisons and reach an informed decision, here are a few questions to ask prospective suppliers:

  1. Is what is being offered a WTL approved full biological system as not all washpad solutions actually recycle and/or have biological treatment? (Incidentally, a WTL approved system means tax savings on the ECA scheme!)
  2. What is the cost of the system and installation? (Is the system brand new or refurbished?)
  3. What is the water capacity? (The larger the capacity, the greater the time for treatment)
  4. How much is a year’s supply of micro-organisms and are they general purpose or designed to treat turf machinery wash water and capable of handling small grass clippings? (ClearWater’s micro-organisms are bespoke; designed specifically for the job)
  5. What time do I need to spend on daily / weekly maintenance and what are maintenance costs?
  6. Does the system have an oil warning alarm and an auto shut-off valve to prevent an oil spill contaminating already treated water?
  7. Are there separate pumps for each hose and is a proper trigger wash gun provided with each?
  8. What pressure do the water hose pumps produce?
  9. What moving parts are fitted that may need replacing? Is this something I can do or is an engineer’s visit necessary? (Swapping the small compressor and water pumps of a ClearWater system can be carried out by users in minutes, saving costly call out fees and down time!)
  10. Would the system be exposed to the elements and, if so, not be affected by high temperatures and UV rays?

So, below ground or above? The choice is yours; make it an informed one!

We all need to take our environmental responsibilities seriously and ensure sustainability. Preserving valuable water by recycling on the washpad and preventing groundwater pollution is one definite way we can contribute.

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Prevention Success At Preston GC

Prevention Success At Preston GC: Andrew Merry, Course Manager at Preston Golf Club, changed his mind-set regarding disease management after attending an ICL/Syngenta breakfast club meeting for Greenkeepers.

Andrew may well be unique in the fact that not only is he the Course Manager at Preston Golf Club but he is also the General Manager. It all started back in 2006 when he was appointed as the Deputy Course Manager but soon was promoted when the position of course manager became vacant.

Prevention Success At Preston GC

He admits that it was somewhat a baptism of fire but twelve years later Andrew has excelled in this dual role, and one look at the stunning course is certainly testament to this.

The superb 18 hole, 6,278 yard, par 71 course dates back to 1892 with the design influenced by such luminaries as James Braid, Harry Varden, Alistair Mackenzie and Sandy Herd. Preston also has a wonderful variety of holes and USGA constructed greens that offer a challenge to players of all abilities.

Andrew has to work hard at keeping the course in a consistently excellent condition and none more so than two years ago when the greens were unfortunately struck with disease.

“I went on my Christmas break, left on the Thursday and came back on a Monday to find disease on the greens and I was worried I wouldn’t get those back. But since then and since attending the breakfast clubs, my view on course management has changed. The ICL/Syngenta “Turf Science Lite” breakfast club has re-educated me and made me want to start looking at things more preventatively and so far that has worked for the second year running,” he said.

The breakfast clubs were arranged by ICL’s North West Technical Area Sales Manager Phil Collinson, who provided a little more background.

“The idea was to get Greenkeepers together, keep them up to date on legislation, and inform them about products or trial work and to provide a networking opportunity.

“The breakfast club which Andrew first attended was based around various hard-hitting fungicides leaving the market and educating them that successful turf management is going to have to be different in the future. It is not about waiting for disease and hitting it and reducing the damage it is doing – it is about understanding when the site is most at risk from a damaging disease outbreak and preventing that damage from occurring in the first place by being proactive with the management strategy.”

Andrew did exactly that and incorporated an early application of Medallion TL at a rate of 3L/ha prior to his annual renovation work.

“Our annual renovation period starts in the third week of September and so a preventative fungicide a week before is where we start with our preventative management. Following that first application, a preventative fungicide goes down around every four weeks as well as incorporating good cultural methods such as dew removal to lower the risk of an outbreak. It is difficult to get into the mind-set of applying a fungicide when your greens are clean but it is absolutely worth it.”

Prevention Success At Preston GC

To compliment Andrew’s preventative strategy and to assist in reducing disease pressure, he also embarked on a full H2Pro TriSmart programme. This unique wetting agent consists of a triple-active formulation which provides great control when it comes to moisture management.

“We apply TriSmart on the greens at 10 L/ha every 4 weeks from April through to September. 2018 was the year to find out which wetting agents really work and I can safely say that TriSmart has excelled.

“Since using the product I haven’t had any compromised greens even during the hottest and driest periods. It also worth bearing in mind that I have an irrigation system which perhaps isn’t the best and the greens dry out very quickly because they are sand based.

“However, I’ve managed my moisture levels incredibly well and TriSmart has done exactly what it says on the tin!”

Andrew claims that the research and trial work conducted by ICL and Syngenta was a big factor in him deciding to use the products.

“In my opinion ICL has that research and development which is proven and it is something that will always stand up in my opinion. The support I receive from Phil is also invaluable.”

Please contact ICL on 01473 237100 or visit or if you are in Ireland.

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

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