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Club continues to invest in technology from Toro

Club continues to invest in technology from Toro: Royal Norwich continues to invest in the latest innovation from Toro. The club in Norfolk has taken advantage of the electric power revolution Toro spearheads with the delivery of an electric Workman GTX-e utility vehicle, alongside the latest pedestrian mower, Toro’s Greensmaster 1026 and is the first club in the country to order Toro’s new NozzAlert Flow Monitoring System with MultiPro 5800 sprayer.

It would have been hard to miss Toro’s meteoric rise in bringing electric and hybrid power to the turfcare market. Off the back of last years’ launch of the first all-electric riding greens mower, the Greensmaster eTriFlex 3370, it’s good to revisit the machine that in a way started it all; the Workman GTX-e utility vehicle, one of the brand’s first triumphs in the electric power arena.

Club continues to invest in technology from Toro

Club continues to invest in technology from Toro

The Workman GTX electric features a 48-volt brushless AC induction drive along with an easily accessible on-board charger, about which estate manager and director at Royal Norwich Peter Todd says: “Toro led the way with the inception of electric power and continues to do so; it’s hard to believe they are still the only brand with a lithium battery electric utility vehicle! By simply removing the lead acid diesel battery in the GTX-e Workman, Toro made this machine much lighter, it’s the equivalent I’d guess of removing a passenger! When running it over fine turf, that’s an important consideration. The battery is sealed for life, there’s less maintenance and performance is better.”

Royal Norwich is the first club in the country to benefit from even more precise spraying. The efficient flow of spray the new NozzAlert provides when installed on Toro’s Multi Pro sprayers is essential for reducing waste and ensuring application efficacy and ideal spraying conditions.

Peter says: “Royal Norwich has been a Toro customer for many years and the reason being is that it has constantly and consistently delivered the quality we need and the innovation we’re after to continually improve the course.”

“I saw the NozzAlert when it launched at the GIS show last year and talked through the new technology with the design engineers on stand. They explained how operators no longer have to judge spray flow based on visibility when using this new bit of kit; instead, NozzAlert delivers continuous monitoring of the entire spray boom and provides both visual and audible alerts if there are any flow disparities. To be told immediately when there’s a blocked nozzle rather than having to wait until your return trip down the fairway appealed then and there!

“Since using the NozzAlerts we’ve become aware of so many advantages that make the vital job of spraying that much easier. It eliminates the chance of spray misses for example and improves the quality of the application.”

The Greensmaster 1026 pedestrian mower is part of Toro’s redesigned classic Greensmaster 1000 series and is new from the tip of its handle to its driveline and chassis. All that remains the same are the patented DPA cutting units, but even that has a modular build to allow the driveline and chassis to be removable for eased servicing.

The reason for this choice was, says Peter for more efficient cutting of the rectangular tee boxes: “Previously we were using a ride-on for cutting the corners and it was a faff and taking too much time,” he says. “We already use the Flex 2120 on the greens and everyone finds it really easy to use and love the telescoping loop handle. The telescoping handle on both makes light work of adjusting for operator heights and handling more user friendly with the loop shape. It’s easy to see more engineering has been brought in with the redesign.”

This approach to having the latest and most innovative turfcare machinery technology is an attitude that spreads across the whole ethos at Royal Norwich as Pete explains: “We’ve always sought to use the most innovative methods. From our greenkeeping facilities which are mostly green – we used recycled materials to build it and PV solar panels to power it. The golf buggies have the latest GPS mapping so we can zone out areas and measure distance to the pin, which means we don’t need markers on the course, and we have Trackman in the practice range providing accuracy stats for players. We’re always on the look-out for the next big thing to make our jobs more efficient and effective and the game more enjoyable for our members.”

And it’s certainly an approach that’s working with membership up by 1,000 since relocating to the new site in 2019.

To talk to someone about Toro technology and how the Toro range would suit your course, call 01480 226800.

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Leicester City adopts precision spray technology

Leicester City adopts precision spray technology: John Deere’s new advanced technology GPS PrecisionSprayer, available exclusively for use with the ProGator utility vehicle, allows sports turf professionals to work more accurately, safely and productively.

With features such as AutoTrac satellite guided automatic steering, a full-colour in-cab touchscreen display and individual nozzle control, this easy-to-use sprayer also lowers input costs through reduced overlaps and misses.

Leicester City adopts precision spray technology

Leicester City adopts precision spray technology

The GPS PrecisionSprayer uses satellite technology and mobile RTK (real-time kinematic) navigation down to accuracy levels of 2.5cm to allow users to create reliable spray coverage maps. It also captures all spray data and analyses the results, which streamlines documentation and provides robust analytics for recording and legislation purposes.

John Ledwidge, Head of Sports Turf & Grounds at Leicester City Football Club, bought the first of these new machines to be delivered to a non-golf customer in the UK, from John Deere dealer Farol.

“There were many reasons for choosing the sprayer, the chief one being accuracy,” says John. “We are creating a world-class facility at our new training ground and we aspire to be world-class in the way we operate.

“Adopting this new precision technology will help in our aim to be as efficient and environmentally sustainable as possible in everything we do. The John Deere GPS PrecisionSprayer means we can apply exactly what is required without overspraying or overspending.”

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Embracing new technology

Embracing new technology: One silver lining among the heartache of the pandemic is an acceleration in the adoption of new – and better – ways of working…

Craig Earnshaw, Course Manager at Harleyford GC, in Buckinghamshire, is a man on a mission and has been fast to embrace the modern approach to managing, communicating and training that today’s advancing technology can offer.

Embracing new technology

Embracing new technology

Communicating daily tasks to the team was always a fundamental activity practised by Craig, but he felt that this could not only be improved but made more relevant in the digital age where everyone has a mobile phone and many have tablets.

Craig’s aim was never to replace the daily verbal brief, however, when looking at digital software systems and what they can offer, the digital whiteboard aspect and the power of reporting and communicating remotely was an area of significant interest.

Having looked at various options, Craig decided TurfKeeper offered exactly what he was looking for and saw that the system offered a major leap forward in complementing what he was doing on a verbal, face-to-face or messaging on a whiteboard basis.

On a more personal note, Craig explained that the system has helped his communication as he is dyslexic and no longer had to rely on his deputy to write up his instructions on the white board.

“This harnessing of digital technology benefits me as a manager, my team and therefore ultimately the club.”

To start with, a large screen TV was installed in the clubs new maintenance facility and with the use of the digital whiteboard feature the day’s preplan activity can be done online and displayed. This is then is keyed into the system and displayed on the TV so the whole team can see what has been assigned; any key notes, machinery and stock to be used is also displayed as well as the weather forecast and such important direction of cut details for any area are to mowed.

A key to success of this system has been the staff ‘buy in’ and them seeing the benefits beyond the traditional whiteboard and pen,” said Craig.

“It also offers the ability to view the tasks out on the course via the phone and this has not just increased efficiency and productivity, but has been a real game changer during the Covid-19 crisis,” he added.

“Using the TurfKeeper system, we have been able to plan and communicate from a far. The team can log onto the system and know what task or activity is required even before they arrive at work, in some cases even before they leave home!”

Avoiding close contact during this pandemic is a must and by utilising modern technology such as this, the team has been able to work around it.

“If I am out on the course and forget to add anything or maybe a new task has cropped up, the web-based TurfKeeper technology allows the inputting of a task via the phone and have it appear on everyone else’s, including also the jobs board.”

Embracing new technology

Embracing new technology

The TurfKeeper ethos is directed towards the modern, digital, web-based way of planning, recording and communicating. There is nothing wrong with a paper diary and handwriting, but when you need quick fire information to fan out the flames, the digital approach delivers with speed and ease.

Take for example the preCovid-19 situation. Seven staff members working 40 hours per week at a total of 280 hours.

In a usual year, bunkers need daily raking, greens rolled 2-3 times per week, empting bins, ball washer and moving tee blocks prior to cutting and all that jazz,” said Craig.

“And oh yes… of course… working around the golf! When all the aforementioned is factored in, this takes a huge amount of time, and hence the good reason why we need all the staff.

“Now cue Furlough… no need to cut daily, certainly minimal to zero rolling or bunker raking. No course furniture to move or service in the way of bins and ball washers, and oh yes… no golfers. Never have courses been easier to maintain in terms of bare minimum and cutting. No golf to work around, so less waiting time and the result… cutting the time in half it usually takes to mow most of the areas.

Cue now to the inquisitions… do we need that many staff members? Course looks good to me and there is only three of you. what did you do with all those labour hours before?

“These are not unreasonable question to be fair. We are lucky in the fact that staff numbers have not been brought into question. I did get asked how come we can get everything cut with only three staff but it was a light hearted comment. Nonetheless, that is where the advent of modern technology plays it part. Unlike a traditional paper diary, I can just enter a date range, click a button and the data instantly; all the labour hours, costs, effort, stock used etc. Looking through the reports, I can balance off last year v this year and communicate to the board exactly where all of the hours go, as the reports detail every last task. It’s very clear to see how long bunkers took this year v last year or even identify work that hasn’t needed to be done. It really helps to hammer home the facts,” he explained.

“So, to sum it all up, it’s quite simple for me. I rely heavily on irrigation software system, digital moisture meters and various other technological tools to monitor surface performance, so why not also other aspect of the job?

“TurfKeeper allows me to extend the technological side of management and communication but in addition, the planning, budgeting, stock control, machinery maintenance and reporting. Such a system is a valuable asset and working example of the technology we should all be embracing in the modern age in which we now operate.”

The greenkeeping team at Harleyford Golf Club in Buckinghamshire won the 2019 BIGGA Championship Greenkeeping Performance of the Year award for its work in preparing the course for The Matchroom Sport Championship.

TurfKeeper is a web-based management system that provides turf industry professionals a fully integrated operations and management solution. Designed by turf industry professionals, the system, in a completely personalised, single environment, provides complete control over and insight into staff management, task planning, machinery management, inventory control, chemical applications planning and recording, and budgeting and expense management.

With detailed reporting on all areas readily available, and a resource library provision, the system becomes the home of all turf management planning, actions, and facility history.

Club Car’s revolutionary Bluetooth technology

Club Car’s revolutionary Bluetooth technology: With the goal of creating a fun, modern entertainment experience, The Track, Meydan Golf in Dubai has implemented Club Car’s latest Visage touchscreen system with integrated Bluetooth speakers to its new fleet of Precedent golf cars.

The Troon-managed venue is the first outside of America to adopt the new technology, which allows golfers to listen to their personal music playlists, podcasts or even the radio while out on the course, without disturbing other golfers.

Club Car’s revolutionary Bluetooth technology

Club Car’s revolutionary Bluetooth technology

Club Car tailored the ground-breaking system specifically to the golf industry’s needs, using directional speakers to keep the sound within the car. The result is that other players on the course hear nothing unless they are within a few feet of the vehicle.

“The Track, Meydan Golf isn’t your ordinary golf club,” commented Thomas Rourke, General Manager of the Peter Harradine designed, fully floodlit nine-hole championship course. “Our aim is to get more people into golf, and we look to push the boundaries on how we can promote the game as a fun, modern entertainment experience. The new Visage system and its Bluetooth technology plays a big role in that.

“Golfers used to bring their own Bluetooth speakers to The Track to play music during their rounds,” he continued. “They love the new overhead sound system, giving resounding positive feedback. The pairing of devices is so effortless and it’s very intuitive to use.”

In addition to the audio capabilities, The Track, Meydan Golf is using the latest Visage system to provide golfers with traditional on-course information, such as yardages, pace-of-play and scores, along with video flyovers and pre-recorded ‘How to Play the Hole’ tips. The Connectivity solution also allows the venue to promote clubhouse, restaurant and pro shop deals, as well as relaying important messages to guests.

Thomas added: “I think this new system will be a definite game-changer where ‘resort golf’ is concerned. We believe it will encourage people’s uptake of the sport, help change current perceptions about golf being an old-fashioned and boring game, and ultimately make it a more enjoyable and fun experience.”

The Track, Meydan Golf, managed by Troon Golf, has been a Club Car client since April 2012, working closely with Hydroturf, the Ingersoll Rand brand’s leading Middle East supplier, which coordinated the implementation of the new Visage technology with very minimal downtime.

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Pellenc’s latest battery technology

Pellenc’s latest battery technology: Extra thin, compact and lightweight, the Pellenc ULiB 750 battery revises all ergonomic standards with an unequalled power to weight ratio.

Developed to work with all Pellenc battery tools in the range, the ULiB 750 has a sleek and compact design, weighing less than 4.5kg, making this backpack battery the ideal power source for tree surgeons as well as grounds maintenance professionals.

Pellenc's latest battery technology

It has a full LCD display on the front of the battery which allows the operator to see power consumed, cost of fuel saved in terms of petrol, the tools that have been used and a battery life indicator.

The new battery is also IP54 water-proof rated, meaning that the worry some users have of working in the rain with a battery-powered product is no longer an issue.

It also comes complete with the new battery harness designed around user comfort which allows the battery to be stood upright when taken off of the operator. Another new feature is that it can be fitted in either direction on to the operator allowing the cable to come out of the top or bottom depending on the type of machine being used.

Technical Specifications of the Pellenc ULiB 750 battery:

  • Capacity is 745 Wh for 16.5 Ah
  • Outstanding power / weight ratio of 166.67 Wh per kg
  • Compatible with all Pellenc battery tools
  • Autonomy from 2h30 to 1.5 working days depending on tool used
  • Can be used in all weathers thanks to an IP54 sealing level
  • Visible at night or in difficult weather conditions thanks to its 4 reflectors and its flashing screen

All Pellenc batteries and tools come complete with a three-year commercial warranty as standard – the first manufacturer to offer this on battery-powered tools.

Pellenc is exclusively distributed in the UK and Ireland by Etesia UK.

To view the all-new dedicated Pellenc website please 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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Toro Technology Impresses

Toro Technology Impresses: Leading the way with the latest technology in turfcare, Toro’s myTurf Pro fleet management software program is proving to be a popular addition at UK golf clubs across the country.

Word is spreading about the software which automatically logs information about all machines in operation at the club meaning greenkeepers can track data for their Toro or non-Toro equipment, order parts, schedule services, and gain access to information such as parts and service manuals. And so far, it has not failed to impress.

Toro Technology Impresses

Neil Mcloughlin, course manager at Deeside Golf Club, says that having myTurf Pro has made a “real difference” at the club: “We have a full fleet of Toro machines at Deeside. Being able to log everything from scheduled maintenance to our inventory, all in the same place, is incredibly useful. Plus with service and parts manuals accessible as well, all the information that I might need is just a click away.”

Designed to make a difficult job easier, having everything at your fingertips has shown to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of greenkeeping fleet management. Something Andrew Airlie, mechanic at The Royal Automobile Club, wholeheartedly agrees with.

“It gives you easy access to everything you need, which has made a huge difference,” he says. “For example, we used to spend endless amounts of time logging the hours on machines manually, but with myTurf Pro, it submits the data in real-time via wireless internet connection. Now we spend less time logging data and more time focusing on maintaining the machines to a high standard.”

As well as providing information and logging data automatically, myTurf Pro also sends notifications when a machine needs servicing, which has been a “huge help”, says Neil Corley, head mechanic at The Grove Golf Club.

“We used to do all of our servicing at the end of the year. But with myTurf Pro, it notifies you when machines in your fleet need to be serviced,” explains Neil. “Now, our servicing is spaced out across the year which is great. It means we can take preventative measures, rather than trying to fix bigger problems which is often harder to do and more expensive. We can spread out our budget throughout the year, which helps us financially.”

He continues: “The software is so simple to use, and it’s made it easier to stay on top of everything. Now that we have myTurf Pro, I don’t think we can manage without it.”

With its many features created to help with the maintenance of greenkeeping machinery, regardless of brand, the myTurf Pro software is becoming a fast favourite for UK greenkeepers.

For more information, visit: reesinkturfcare.co.uk

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John Deere Revolutionary Technology

John Deere Revolutionary Technology: Available in Europe from 2019 exclusively on John Deere’s ZTrak 900 Series commercial zero-turn rotary mowers, the new Michelin X Tweel Turf airless radial tyre means customers may never need to buy rear tyres for their zero-turn mowers again.

Unlike traditional pneumatic tyres, the Michelin X Tweel Turf virtually eliminates tyre downtime and is nearly maintenance free. A new Z994R model equipped with X Tweel Turf tyres makes its UK & Ireland show debut on the John Deere stand (E080) at SALTEX 2018 at the NEC, Birmingham in November, alongside the company’s latest compact tractor and lawn tractor developments.

John Deere Revolutionary Technology

Offering a combination of operator comfort, productivity and a high-quality finish, the Z994R is designed to cater for customers looking for a more compact solution to working in restricted spaces. It features a powerful 25hp (18.4kW) diesel engine together with a heavy-duty frame and a belt-driven deck for optimum power efficiency. High output is further achieved by the 137cm (54in) 7-Iron PRO side-discharge rotary mower deck.

“The Z994R excels in the toughest mowing conditions while also providing the fuel economy, compact size and durability that commercial customers value,” says John Deere’s European turf sales & marketing manager Carlos Aragones. “It also offers a range of options designed to increase operator comfort and reduce fatigue during long working hours, as well as delivering lower operating costs and improved performance.”

These options include the exciting new Michelin X Tweel Turf tyre, which avoids downtime from punctures when compared to traditional pneumatic tyres. It has the same dimensions and bolt pattern as a standard tyre and features automotive rubber technology, allowing the tread to last up to three times longer. The Tweel also reduces ground compaction and increases ride quality, which is enhanced by the mower’s new ComfortGlide seat.

Using pioneering technology first introduced by John Deere on its agricultural tractors and other self-propelled equipment in 2001, a top of the range 4066R compact tractor can also be seen for the first time equipped with a StarFire satellite receiver and AutoTrac Universal automatic steering system. This is now being made available on the company’s compact tractor range to help operators achieve higher levels of accuracy and input cost savings when working with implements such as amenity turf sprayers and spreaders.

An enhanced range of high-capacity commercial mower decks has also been  announced for the popular John Deere X940 Series diesel lawn tractors. These are designed to increase performance and further improve operator convenience.

The robust construction of these decks, which are stamped from a single steel plate, ensures that they are built to last and serve the needs of demanding commercial operators. Available with cutting widths of 137 or 152cm (54 or 60in), the decks are uniquely designed to handle high volumes of material.

Upgrades have been made to the drive-over ramps for even easier connection of the mower deck to the tractor. In addition, the X940 Series now comes as standard with a new deluxe seat featuring adjustable back support, with an air ride suspension seat available as an option. Both seats are now fitted with armrests.

The existing MulchControl feature, which allows simple changes between grass discharge and mulching, has also been enhanced by the addition of an optional hydraulic actuator known as One-Touch. This increases the speed of changing between modes for increased uptime and ease of operation.

All these new products will be available at John Deere dealerships in the UK and Ireland from spring 2019.

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Dennis Technology At SALTEX 2018

Dennis Technology At SALTEX 2018: Visitors to the Dennis stand (E070) at IOG SALTEX on October 31 and November 1 will have an opportunity to see how the company’s range of world class turf maintenance equipment enables turf professionals to benefit from cutting edge technology.

Taking centre stage on the Dennis Mowers stand will be the new PRO 34R rotary mower. Following the launch of the prototype model at last year’s show; the professional rotary mower has been refined and developed with feedback from groundsmen over the past 18 months.

Dennis Technology At SALTEX 2018

The PRO 34R is a 34” (860mm) rotary mower designed to help groundsmen achieve an aesthetically pleasing appearance and desired playing surface.

The mower is ideal for sports pitches and lawns producing the enviable ‘Dennis Stripes’ while a powerful vacuum flow collects debris quickly and efficiently.

The angle of the cutting deck and twin blades can be easily adjusted using a single ‘click adjuster’ ensuring the mower is suitable for changing conditions and meeting groundsmen’s requirements.

Unique features of the Dennis PRO 34R Rotary Mower include:

  • 5 forward and 1 reverse selection for speed of operation
  • 90 litre capacity grass box
  • Fully adjustable angle of deck for changing conditions
  • 2 section cast aluminium rear roller
  • Easy to use height of cut gauge
  • Single point height of cut adjustment for ease of operation
  • Optional front wheel or smooth/weile roller options
  • Front brush for standing grasses upright
  • Adjustable handlebars for operator comfort

Also on view will be the G860, G34D and the Premier professional cylinder mowers along with the the FT510, Razor Ultra, and S500 Plus seeder, which creates ideal seed germination pockets whilst reducing seed wastage.

The FT510 professional mower is unrivalled as a mower and turf maintenance machine on all areas of fine turf. A cutting width of 510mm (20”) and a range of 11 interchangeable cassettes mean that one machine can be used for several different jobs from scarifying, verticutting, brushing and cutting.

The Razor Ultra 560 has been developed to specifically meet the demands of cricket pitches as well as golf greens & tees and bowling greens. The machine has a 560mm (22”) cutting width and incorporates many key features including an 11 bladed cutting cylinder, ultra short wheelbase for undulating surfaces, tungsten tipped groomer, compact handle design for extra manoeuvrability, click height adjusters and stub free transport wheels for easy transport from site to site.

The G860 has eleven quick changeover cassette options giving ultimate flexibility and a single power unit for many day-to-day maintenance tasks. This versatility coupled with low ground pressure, at just 166kgs, and manoeuvrability makes the G860 the choice for many top sporting venues around the world including the recent FIFA World Cup Finals in Russia.

Designed and built following the same concept as the Dennis G860, the G34D is a dedicated cylinder mower that incorporates a large-diameter eight bladed cutting cylinder to cater for a wide range of uses to leave a precise cut.

Fitted with either a powerful Honda Petrol or Kubota diesel engine, the Premier is available in 30” and 36” cutting widths. A 3 section rear roller and steering brakes make it easy to manoeuvre giving an excellent stripe pattern and rolling characteristics. Complete with a large diameter front roller with adjustable scraper, for precise height of cut control, the machine is easy to adjust on both sides with the use of a single spanner.

In addition to the range of Dennis products on show, the combined display with SISIS will also show a range of natural and synthetic turf maintenance machinery.

For further information or a no obligation demonstration, please contact Dennis 01332 824 777 or visit www.dennisuk.com

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The Value Of Irrigation Technology

The Value Of Irrigation Technology: When the Madejski Stadium, home to Reading Football Club and London Irish Rugby Club, underwent its first major pitch reconstruction for ten years, contractors, MJ Abbott and Premier Pitches, worked closely together during the time-critical close season over a six-week period. The venue became the first to have a dual-use pitch with the added durability of the SISGrass hybrid system turf technology.

After removing around 15 miles of existing pipework, MJ Abbott completely reconstructed the pitch, taking the old one out and starting from the bottom up, reshaped all the sub-base levels, reinstalled the drainage, undersoil heating and rootzone layers. Premier Pitches took responsibility for pitch cultivation and seeding. The company also maintains their involvement by way of annual pitch renovation.

The Value Of Irrigation Technology

During the later stages of construction employing effective irrigation to the grass root zone was critical to enable the final pitch levels to be accurately graded and to allow for successful cultivation and seeding of the new surface. Nathan George, Contracts Manager at MJ Abbott was confident that selecting Rain Bird products for the new pitch’s irrigation requirements was the way forward: “The irrigation cycle is determined by both the weather in general as well as the effects of sun and shade caused by the inherent design of the stadium. We had a high level of confidence in Rain Bird irrigation technology for the project because of the overall quality, performance and versatility of the company’s products,” he says.

Rain Bird’s highly durable 8005 rotors were specified for the central area of the pitch and with their easily adjustable arc from 50° to 330°and 12 to 24.7 metre radius were well suited to the application. Featuring Rain Curtain™ nozzles, the 8005 rotors ensure optimum distribution and close-in watering resulting in superior irrigation uniformity.

Rain Bird’s 950E rotors were selected for the pitch perimeter as they are specifically designed to withstand the rigours of sports field irrigation applications, including hybrid grass. They offer full or part circle and irrigation up to 345° and feature a top adjustable pressure regulator, factory preset at 5.5 bar.

Rain Bird’s Site Control System, used by Adam Grantham Reading Football Club’s Grounds Manager and his team, can be controlled both through a PC and remotely through an iPad. It gives complete control over the irrigation and the flexibility to set up and match the irrigation cycles precisely to the prevailing and predicted weather.  The software provides a quick and easy way to build irrigation schedules and programmes based on set parameters. The system’s many advanced features include an interactive map interface that displays the position and operation of individual rotors, displaying real-time irrigation activity and for close monitoring of the system.

The Value Of Irrigation Technology

Adam Grantham commented: “The Rain Bird system is great and very user friendly, and can be as complex as you would like it to be. I have found it very easy to monitor moisture levels with the sprinkler system coverage being very consistent. The pitch is holding together well and receiving good feedback from the coaching staff and players”. From MJ Abbott’s viewpoint the success of the Madejski project was reflected by the fact that the company has gone on to secure further contracts from Reading FC for new training ground pitches.

Meanwhile when the decision was made to install a new playing surface and irrigation system before the start of the 2017-8 Premier League season at Newcastle United, a fast response and close cooperation between pitch contractors MJ Abbott and Premier Pitches was essential. As part of the project the club had to select a new fully automatic pitch irrigation system.

After removing the existing vegetation and old fibre root zone, MJ Abbott removed the existing lower sand layer to a suitable depth to expose the existing slits within the drainage system that was to be retained. An imported rootzone was laid to re-establish the original pitch levels, followed by cultivation and seeding carried out by Premier Pitches. The new pitch was then stitched with the SISGrass hybrid pitch system. The St James’ Park project was successfully delivered a week ahead of schedule.

For the new irrigation system, MJ Abbott had to take into account the particular conditions created by the configuration of the pitch within the stadium. Nathan George, Contracts Manager, explains:  “ The stadium design means that at certain times of the day, the southern end of the pitch is in full shade with the remainder in full sun. Complete control over individual sprinkler application rates was therefore essential. We knew from experience that Rain Bird offers high quality products for stadia applications in terms of rotors, sprinklers and automatic irrigation control systems so would be an excellent partner for this project.“ Rain Bird 950E valve-in-head sprinklers were selected for the perimeter and the corners of the pitch whilst 8005 pop up rotors were chosen for the central areas.

The Value Of Irrigation Technology

Integral to the new pitch is the SISGrass Hydrobox system which was developed specifically for use with pop-up irrigation systems, including Rain Bird. Nathan explains ” Hydrboxes are installed to all central pitch sprinklers. The box is filled with rootzone and stitched in the same configuration as the main pitch. To access the sprinkler for maintenance purposes, the Hydrobox is simply lifted out, leaving the sprinkler clear of any pitch construction. To reinstate the pitch surface around the head the Hydrobox is lifted back over the sprinkler and replaced into the hole.” The system not only makes maintenance much easier but also allows grass to grow right around the sprinkler head for an optimum playing surface.

Rain Bird’s IQ Cloud Platform, used in conjunction with an ESP-LXD controller fitted with a network communication cartridge, was selected to give the groundstaff a real time fully automatic remote irrigation control system. The installation can be managed remotely by a web enabled computer, tablet or smartphone connected to the internet.

The ESP-LXD controller enables employment of IQ-Cloud’s full suite of remote water management tools. Groundstaff know in real time which zones and irrigation systems are operating and can access information on flow rates and performance. Reports can be automatically created and shared, saving time and providing information on irrigation times, total water usage and other significant data. Automated e-mail alerts and alarms can be set up to help manage potential problems.

The overall result has delighted Eddie Rutherford, Stadium Manager, who says it is probably the best the pitch that the club has had since he has been there. The quick planning required and success of the project was helped by Premier Pitches’ long term experience at St James Park and Director Russell Latham also recognised the experience and expertise of MJ Abbott.  “ We have worked with MJ Abbott on pitch construction projects for over five years now. Their efficient and meticulous way of approaching a project from design and planning to delivery is everything that our key clients want to see.”

For more information, visit: www.rainbird.com

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