Wildflowers suffering at our roadsides
by TurfPro Editor, Steve Gibbs
Steve Gibbs

A charity has said the quality and diversity of roadside verges is at risk through both air pollution and what they describe as 'poor management'.


For many urban workers, one of their only opportunities to see a green and bio-diverse space during a regular week, could well be from the window of their car, along the roadside.


However, according to the charity Plantlife, the quality and diversity of roadside verges is at risk through both air pollution and what they describe as 'poor management'.


The charity says that emissions from vehicle exhausts are acting as a fertiliser for a group of nitrogen-loving plants like nettles, which outcompete traditional flowers.


As well as this though, the charity is pointing the finger at some councils, saying that too frequent cutting of verges is also contributing to the problem.


Plantlife say a “marauding gang” of plants including brambles and nettles are increasingly taking over road verges and squeezing out wildflowers. The plants which they describe as “nitrogen guzzlers”, which also include cow parsley and creeping buttercup, thrive in nitrogen-rich soils caused in part by pollution from road traffic which settles on road verges.


These plants are forcing out other wildlife-friendly and threatened species that prefer less rich soil, with the array of wildflowers on road verges shrinking by almost a fifth, analysis of trends since 1990 showing. Species such as red clover and lady’s bedstraw, which support high numbers of insects, have seen the most rapid declines, they say.


And rare wildflowers such as fen ragwort and wood calamint are apparently clinging on in just a handful of verges, their last remaining habitat.


Where the problem lies with some council's management of roadsides, say Plantlife, is through over cutting and the leaving of clippings - which adds to the nitrogen-richness of the soil, allowing these marauding plants to flourish. This combines with the air pollution to create what they are calling "a perfect storm".


Changes which the charity is suggesting include cutting less and later in the year so flowers can set seed, allowing semi-parasitic plant yellow rattle to act as a natural lawnmower and not leaving cuttings on the verge where they increase the nutrient richness.


They estimate if all the road verges in the UK were managed for nature there could be almost 420 billion more flowers - 6,300 per person.


Plantlife's botanist, Dr Trevor Dines, is quoted by the BBC as saying, "Our once colourful and botanically diverse road verges are becoming mean, green thickets where only thuggish species can thrive.


"After the froth of cow parsley in May, many verges no longer enjoy a bountiful summer.


"The impact of air pollution on human health is well documented but how pollution affects plantlife remains under-appreciated."


Going on to describe some councils as "over eager" in their cutting regimes Dr Dines, points out that if cutting frequency was lessened, as well as improving the wildflower life, it would save councils' money.


This is interesting food for thought. Is the equation really as simple as that? If councils cut roadsides less, they will save the quality of the life on the verges and save money?


If money was indeed saved through less frequent verge cutting could councils divert that saved cash into that other public green space area which so desperately requires attention, parks? We know that they are suffering from under-funding for maintenance across the country, so can a possible means of freeing up council workers' time and public funds be as linear as less time cutting verges, more time maintaining parks?


As with all publicly funded services, I'm sure a way can be found to make it a lot more complicated than that.

Third successive World Cup for mowers
88 Dennis Mowers will be used in Russia for the World Cup

A whole fleet of Dennis G860 cylinder mowers will be making their way to Russia as the official mower of this summer's FIFA World Cup finals.


After being selected as the official mower at the two most recent FIFA World Cup’s in South Africa and Brazil, the 2018 tournament in Russia is the third successive World Cup that the Dennis G860 machine has been selected as the mower of choice.



88 Dennis mowers will have the task of preparing stadium and training complex pitches for the world’s greatest football players throughout the tournament while some venues will also utilise the Dennis Premier in conjunction with the G860 for matchday preparation.


7 of the 11 stadiums will use Dennis mowers, including those hosting the quarter finals, the semi-finals and the final, and 70% of the training camps will also be maintained by Dennis.

Steven Rienks, managing director of Queens Grass, who are the official Dennis dealer in Russia, has orchestrated proceedings and admits it is a proud moment for himself and his company.


“This is the greatest show on earth and is not just another contract. Yes, it is fantastic to be a part of it but it is also a responsibility,” he says. “After all, the quality of play depends on the quality of the pitch. But this is why the G860 has been chosen - due to the quality and the presentation it offers. They all want that perfect stripe which the G860 provides because they know it will be watched by a worldwide audience.”



However, the task of preparing the pitches is made slightly more difficult by unfavourable weather conditions, as Steven remarks: “In Russia, the weather is not ideal - for instance, in one area we only have around 60 days of sunlight over the course of a year. The interchangeable cassette system really helps with maintenance procedures in a difficult climate. Also, the mowing height may differ and the sandy materials on the pitches are different.”


While the games will no doubt attract billions of viewers worldwide, many will be oblivious to actually what goes into ensuring the pitch is up to the standards expected for a tournament as prestigious as the World Cup. Even before the pitch is prepared, contracts must be concluded and signed and Steven admits that it can be somewhat of a rigorous process.



“Russia is a whole different ball game and one of the attractions of working with companies such as ourselves is the fact that we have been working with the groundsmen at the stadiums since 2001. Russian clubs prefer to be supported by local companies that supply European machines but quick, straightforward contracts are hard to make.”

“Every offer was made specifically for each stadium and training complex and all were tendered by the Russian Government. Then of course there are the complications of dealing with an eastern European country - let us say that the customs and borders in Russia are an interesting challenge.


“It is not easy but of course it is fantastic to work at such a tournament. We love our profession and it is a nice challenge to have!”

Taking place at Gleneagles
John Deere will be the Official Golf Course and Turf Maintenance Machinery Event Partner at Gleneagles

John Deere will be the Official Golf Course and Turf Maintenance Machinery Event Partner, with machinery and back-up provided by dealer Sandy Armit and his team at Double A in Cupar, Fife.


John Deere is confirmed as a partner to The Solheim Cup which is taking place at Gleneagles from 9th-15th September 2019.



John Deere will be the Official Golf Course and Turf Maintenance Machinery Event Partner at Gleneagles for the 16th edition of the biennial match. Machinery and back-up will be provided by Sandy Armit and his team at Double A in Cupar, Fife.


John Deerehas a long association with professional golf having been a title sponsor on the PGA Tour, Official Supplier to the PGA Tour for 25 years, Official Supplier to the Ladies European Tour and a partner at numerous Solheim Cup events.


In addition, John Deere is also the partner of choice for Gleneagles, where the company exclusively provides golf course maintenance machinery and equipment for use across all three golf courses.


John Deere’s partnership at The 2019 Solheim Cup will include on course branding, a display of John Deere products in the Spectator Village and utilising the association and event collateral for customer promotions and incentives at dealerships worldwide.


Carlos Aragones, John Deere European turf sales & marketing manager, said, “The Solheim Cup is one of the biggest events on the 2019 sporting calendar and we are delighted to be a part of it. We are very proud of our history of collaborating with major golf events and our association with both The Solheim Cup and Gleneagles is very important to our brand. The countdown is now on and we are very much looking forward to next year’s event.”


Ross Hallett, IMG Executive Tournament Director, added, “As we build towards The 2019 Solheim Cup, we have been overwhelmed with interest from within the golf industry. Announcing John Deere’s support today is another important step as we work alongside VisitScotland in fulfilling their ambition of hosting the best Solheim Cup to date.”


The recently appointed European Captain and VisitScotland Ambassador, Catriona Matthew, will be looking to return the trophy to Europe in 2019 after an inspired USA team retained the trophy by 16½ to 11½ points, in front of record crowds in Iowa. Organisers are now aiming to set a new record for a European edition in 2019.

Described as a 'training trailblazer'
Clive Pinnock

After 34 years, Clive Pinnock is retiring from Reesink Turfcare and the training department he helped develop.


After 34 years, Clive Pinnock is retiring from Reesink Turfcare and the training department he helped develop.


Turf equipment aftermarket manager at Reesink, David Jackman, says Clive trailblazed his way through the industry he loved and will be much missed, not only by his employer but the industry.


Clive Pinnock


“Clive has been instrumental in helping us grow the company to where it is today,” David Jackman says. “He’s been an ambassador not just for us as a company, but The Toro Company too, and has passed his wealth of knowledge onto so many of our customers, employees and distributors.”


Clive has worked with Toro products for 34 years, he explains: “I started at Lely, as it was then, one year after Lely became Toro distributors for the UK. As the only product specialist for the aftermarket service team for 12 years, I was responsible for supporting dealers and customers in a technical and product support role for the south of the country and Europe.”


When Clive turned 65 he decided he didn’t want to retire, but equally didn’t want to be driving around the M25 so much, so it was agreed he would move into the training department in Reesink’s head office in St Neots, which is where David takes over the story:


“It was the perfect solution for Clive, and us. We kept Clive’s product knowledge and training ability, and we had somebody that customers and dealers knew and trusted delivering our training. There are four people in the training department now, delivering nine training courses – that’s one of the biggest selections from a distributor – and Clive has been a big part of building that success.”


In fact, Clive has been quite the training trailblazer since his move into the training department. He was first in the turfcare sector to achieve a level four in the Landbased Technician Accreditation scheme (LTA), which is one of the highest training accolades there is. Clive completed all his training through Reesink, which was recognised as an assessment training centre in 2016, because, he says: “I wanted to add to my practical experience with the training qualifications I strongly believe in, so when Reesink was made a training centre it made absolute sense to go through the training pathway, and it was a great experience.”


David concludes by saying: “Clive has been an inspiration, his passion for learning and sharing his knowledge was evident in how he delivered our training; it was always with such enthusiasm attendees couldn’t help but be motivated.


“What I’ll remember about Clive is his knowledge and ability to recall things, especially when it comes to the older products. You can ask Clive a question regarding a machine that was made in the 1990s and he’s able to list all the modifications or upgrades that were carried out on the machine, what cutting units or deck option had been fitted, and so on - Clive could retain it all! How do you replace that? You can’t, it’s irreplaceable.”

For Amenity Forum Conference
Amenity Forum Conference

Speakers include Francesca Baylis from Royal Holloway who will report on her ongoing research into biological control for weed, pest and disease control.


The Amenity Forum has recently opened for booking for its annual conference and exhibition. In 2018 it will be held once again at the Pirelli Stadium, Burton upon Trent, on Tuesday, October 9th - the conference will be entitled ‘Change, challenge and opportunity’.


The speakers which have just been announced include Professor Michael Eddleston from the University of Edinburgh who is set to provide a presentation on Human Health issues and Francesca Baylis from Royal Holloway who will report on her ongoing research into biological control for weed, pest and disease control.

There will be updates on policy matters from senior staff from both the Environment Agency and the Chemicals Regulation Directorate. These will be followed by a series of leading speakers looking at the current issues within their own areas of amenity.


During the conference category winners for the Amenity Sprayer Operator of the Year Awards will be announced.


To book a place, contact Admin@amenityforum.net Delegate places are priced at £85 + VAT or £75 + VAT if you book before September 1st. Member organisations receive a £10 discount on the rates.

Professor John Moverley, Independent Chairman of the Amenity Forum, said, "This conference has attracted an enviable reputation for the quality of its speakers and the opportunity to network with the key people in our sector. Early bookings are recommended."

Esher branch in Surrey
Ernest Doe have taken on Etesia

Ernest Doe’s Surrey customers will now be able to choose from Etesia's 12 product families which includes ride-on mowers, scarifiers, brush cutters, green technology and pedestrian mowers.


The Ernest Doe branch in Esher has been appointed as a new Etesia dealer and will be distributing Etesia’s complete product range throughout Surrey.


The Ernest Doe brand can be traced all the way back to June 1898. Still very much a family firm, current Managing Director Colin Doe is the fourth generation of the family to have taken the helm during the company’s 100+ years of trading.


Ernest Doe now boasts a network of branches in the South and East of England. Of the 19 branches, the Esher depot based in Surrey is the only branch purely dedicated to groundcare machinery.


General sales manager at Ernest Doe, Andy Turbin, says, “Etesia is a brand that we have known about for a number of years and we have a lot of customers who use the equipment so we thought it would be good to get the franchise and support these customers. Quite simply, it seemed a great opportunity for us.


“The Esher branch has a massive customer base including contractors and local authorities - so the Etesia equipment will be ideal for them.”


Ernest Doe’s Surrey based customers will now be able to choose from Etesia's 12 product families which includes ride-on mowers, scarifiers, brush cutters, green technology and pedestrian mowers - something which Steve is particularly excited about.


“I think the Etesia pedestrian mowers will arguably be the most popular with our customer base. They are well respected machines in the marketplace, extremely versatile and are capable of cutting and collecting in all conditions.”

Ian Bridges joins
Ian Bridges

Iseki UK & Ireland has announced that Ian Bridges is joining the team as Regional Sales Manager for Scotland and the North of England.


Iseki UK & Ireland has announced that Ian Bridges is joining the team as Regional Sales Manager for Scotland and the North of England.


Ian Bridges


Ian, an industry stalwart who has worked for various manufacturers in the Industry over the years is perhaps best known for the 30 years that he spent with Jacobsen and then Ransomes Jacobsen that ended with his retirement from the Ipswich based manufacturer earlier this year.

“When Ian became available earlier this year we started talking about the possibility of him joining our new team and continuing the great work he has done looking after ISEKI whilst RJ were the distributors,” said David Withers, managing director of ISEKI UK.


“Ian has a real depth of knowledge of the product line and is probably the best-known figure in the Industry in Scotland so it made sense for us to welcome him to our organisation.”

Ian’s contact details are 07850 086 314 and e-mail ibridges@iseki.co.uk

Goring and Streatley GC
Course Manager Matt Aplin

Course Manager Matt Aplin is using a combination of a Redexim Carrier and Verti-Drain 1513 from Charterhouse to improve the greens, tees and approaches.


Set in an area of outstanding natural beauty in Berkshire, Goring and Streatley Golf Club offers a testing 18 holes over a half downland and half parkland course.


Despite the challenges this brings to Course Manager Matt Aplin and his team when it comes to maintenance, the greens are renowned for being fast, true and in great condition all year round. The combination of a Redexim Carrier and Verti-Drain 1513 from Charterhouse Turf Machinery is the latest weapon in Matt’s armoury to improve the greens, tees and approaches even further. 


Course Manager Matt Aplin

“Though we have quite a large machinery fleet, we only have one tractor,” explains Matt, who heads up a team of six greenkeepers. “This meant when it came to greens maintenance, if we were using the tractor to hollow tine, we then couldn’t topdress on the same day as the tractor was tied up. Fundamentally this restricted us being able to conduct some operations, especially aeration, as much as we’d like to.”


Matt spoke to his local dealer Lister Wilder, who demonstrated a number of power unit and aerator combinations. “With a lot of the competitor machines, the aerator was limited to 4” penetration depths, whereas the Verti-Drain could go down to 6”, making a big difference to root depths, along with creating heave.” They took delivery of the Carrier and Verti-Drain 1513 in combination early last year.

As well as easing the strain on the club’s tractor, another key factor for the purchase was to use a lighter weight unit on the greens. “It’s simple to use, safer being outside the cab and more efficient for the team than navigating the tractor with a heavy spiker on the back around the hills on our course.” Though a number of machines can be connected to the Carrier, for Matt it is being used solely for aeration, and has already conducted upwards of 220 hours of aeration at the club. “We used to pencil tine the greens four or five times a year, that’s now 10 or 12 times. Our tees and approaches were aerated very infrequently, they’re now being done six times a year. That equates to a 200% increase on our previous aeration programme.”

That increase isn’t unnoticed by members who are commenting on the knock-on improvements in green and tee conditions. “We have four greens that are built on pure clay and can lay very wet. The massive increase in aeration, and more frequent topdressing has meant these are drier than they’ve ever been. It shows us that our cultural practices are working, and that’ll hopefully only continue to improve as the years go on.”

Emma Kilby ran London Marathon
ICL's Emma Kilby has raised money for Children with Cancer UK

Emma Kilby, Technical Area Sales Manager for ICL, has not only beaten three types of cancer but she has also just raised over £3,000 for Children with Cancer UK.


Emma Kilby, Technical Area Sales Manager for ICL, has not only beaten three types of cancer but she has also just conquered the London Marathon and in doing so raised over £3,000 for Children with Cancer UK.



Emma’s battle with cancer started when she was just 16. She was again diagnosed with cancer on two other occasions but after a long and difficult battle, enduring months of operations, chemotherapy and radioactive iodine, she pulled through. Her struggle with this terrible disease didn’t allow it to get in the way of life however - she finished her studies at university, got married and gave birth to two beautiful daughters.


Emma wanted to give something back and made the decision to run the London Marathon in a bid to raise funds for Children with Cancer UK.


Almost 4,000 children and young people are diagnosed with cancer every year in the UK. That’s ten every day. Children with Cancer UK is the leading national children’s charity dedicated to the fight against childhood cancer. They fund life-saving research into the causes, prevention and treatment of childhood cancer and they work to protect young lives through essential welfare programmes.


This year's London Marathon was officially the hottest on record and Emma ran the 26.2-mile race in gruelling temperatures of 24.1C and recorded a time of 5 ½ hours.


“I’ve been training for 16 weeks and we trained in extremely cold weather conditions,” said Emma. “Nothing prepares you for the heat we were running in on Sunday but I never felt that I was going to quit. It just wasn’t an option. The spirit of the day was indescribable, as is the pain that accompanies it. The crowd and the adrenaline really help you to cross the finish line.


“For me, it was a personal challenge and a mental challenge too because it has been on my bucket list ever since I was ill. There were times when I wasn’t even able to walk from all the treatment I was receiving so for me to be able to run a marathon was a huge, emotional achievement.


“It has taken its toll though! I’ve been extremely tired and I haven’t been able to eat properly since the race. It takes a mile per day for your body to recuperate so it will take about a month to totally recover.”


Emma is now back to work after raising an incredible £3,300 for Children with Cancer UK and says that she is overwhelmed with the amount of support she received.


“I got to the finish line and I had over 120 messages on my phone from people within the industry and from friends and family.


“I just want to say a really massive thank you to everybody for all of their support and generosity because it would not have been possible without them. It is unbelievable to see the amount of money that I have raised so far for such a great charity. It was a privilege to run for CWCUK which is close to my heart and it is good to know that this money will help the charity to determine the causes, find new cures and provide care for children with cancer.”


There is still time to make a donation to Emma’s worthy cause. Please visit - www.justgiving.com/fundraising/emma-kilby

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Sponsored Product Announcements
Applying glyphosate too early can lead to reduced weed control
Roundup ProVantage

Amenity managers and contractors should plan weed control operations carefully in catchy spring weather, warns Monsanto, manufacturer of glyphosate herbicide Roundup ProVantage.



Amenity managers and contractors should plan weed control operations carefully in catchy spring weather, warns Monsanto, manufacturer of glyphosate herbicide Roundup ProVantage.

Technical Development Manager Barrie Hunt explains: “Following a long, cold and wet winter the forecast now looks more promising, but May can still bring high diurnal temperature ranges and overnight frosts. Applying glyphosate too early can lead to reduced weed control.”

Mr Hunt points out that knowing how glyphosate works can prove very helpful in understanding how performance varies in different situations.

“Glyphosate works by leaf uptake and translocation to the growing points in both shoots and roots.”

“Plants need to be healthy and have sufficient leaf growth to absorb the Roundup. Perennial plants like thistles, nettles and dandelions were late to emerge from winter dormancy this year and seed germination has been delayed due to cold soil temperatures. Spraying by the calendar can result in herbicide being applied before sufficient leaf area has emerged.”

The variable weather can also slow the effects of herbicide applications.

“Even with good leaf coverage, low soil temperatures and high diurnal air temperature ranges resulting in slow plant growth mean visible symptoms can take up to four weeks rather than the expected 10-14 days. However, the end result will be the same.”

Best practice in application is also important, comments Mr Hunt.

“Operators should pay close attention to correct water volumes and proper sprayer calibration, choosing appropriate nozzles and avoiding drift for optimum efficacy.”

Roundup ProVantage helps amenity professionals meet the challenge of catchy conditions. It is more concentrated at 480g glyphosate per litre and the optimised blend of surfactants as well as the high loading makes it Monsanto’s most advanced amenity glyphosate.


Superior performance includes improved rainfastness and speed of uptake. Rainfast in one hour for annuals and four hours for perennials, Roundup ProVantage reduces the risk of run off from that unexpected shower and ensures the maximum amount of glyphosate reaches the roots for the optimum effectiveness. It also offers reduced off-target exposure through 33% less drift, giving operators the confidence to apply in a wide range of groundcare situations.

For more information visit the website: www.monsanto-ag.co.uk contact the Technical Helpline on (01954) 717575 or e-mail technical.helpline.uk@monsanto.com

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