. . . now the human?
by Service Dealer Ireland Editor, Alan Mahon
Alan Mahon

With dealers around the country stocking more robotic mowers than ever before, is this a sign of times ahead?


I hope you had a good Easter. The weather has been mixed with many parts of the country still saturated from all the heavy rain. I have never seen the fields in my area as wet. Machines, in some parts, are unable to gain access for Spring cultivation. The situation will need to improve soon. 


Nature can be very unpredictable at times. We hear about global warming and its impact on society. Is this man made or a natural evolution of nature? Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution describes how species, down through time, are able to adapt to suit their environment. Can Darwin’s Theory of Evolution be applied to the dealer?
If you were to travel back in time, for example to the 1800’s, and stand beside a farmer and tell him that horses will no longer be used to work the land, be the main mode of transport, and that agricultural blacksmiths and saddlers will be a thing of the past, the farmer would probably laugh at you. Things have evolved since then and that farmer is probably spinning in his grave.


A similar experience happened to me when I was a greenkeeper. A machinery sales rep called to me one day and commented “It won’t be long before machines will be able to maintain a golf course, wall to wall, without a human being on board to operate it. I looked at him with a wry smile and said “yeah, right.”  


Many years later that comment by the sales rep has almost come true. Many of the press releases I receive each week are from companies that are promoting their latest robotic mower, sprayer or precision farm technology. Dealers around the country are stocking more robotic mowers than ever before. Is this a sign of times ahead? Is the human being replaced by the machine, just like they replaced the horse?   


This leads me to another question. Will groundstaff, just like blacksmiths at the turn of the last century, be a thing of the past? Time will tell but some human input will be needed to manage these new machines. It is the law that commercial robotic machines must be supervised by a person in the event of a malfunction. However, having said that, I believe that the number of staff that will be employed to maintain golf courses and amenity areas will be a lot less than what it is today.


Dealers are already adapting to the move towards robotics and are telling their customers about their benefits. 


As well as robotic mowers there is also the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in agriculture. This is used in precision farming such as surveying the land for disease and nutrient deficiencies. In the wider public AI has generated a lot of anxiety, especially when it comes to social media. For example, It is becoming more difficult to distinguish between a genuine image and one that is created using AI.


This concern has spread into our industry where some potential AI customers are worried about the use of their data and data protection policy. A lot of equipment using precision agriculture depends on obtaining lots of data to carry out their various tasks. We will need to reassure our customers and get their trust so that they are more confident purchasing and using AI equipment in their work life. 


The day that no human will be needed to farm or look after sport pitches may still be a long way off but, as dealers, we need to keep up with the changing times or we may find ourselves in the same stable as the blacksmith.

Created eight new jobs
Andy Keys, David Timms and Mark Mallon

Following appointment, dealer has recruited new members of staff to accommodate the increase in business and further plans for expansion.


Keys Brothers Horticulture Ltd in Hillsborough, Northern Ireland, has been appointed as the only authorised dealer for Toro fine turf and groundscare machinery in Ulster. 


From Keys Brothers, Andy Keys (left) and Mark Mallon (right) with Reesink’s David Timms


Following the appointment, eight new members of staff have been recruited by the dealership to accommodate the increase in business and further plans for expansion. 


Keys Brothers and Reesink Turfcare have actually been in partnership since 2018 when the company was chosen as a service centre for Reesink.


Andy Keys, director at Keys Brothers said, “Working as a service centre for Reesink was a successful endeavour, so it made sense for that relationship to evolve into us becoming a dealer. We’re 12 months into the relationship and delighted to report a record-breaking start with sales numbers exceeding all expectations.”


Andy continued, “We focus on delivering high performance, superior quality machines and exceptional after-sale service. The combination of Toro being a leading brand when it comes to quality machines and performance, the backup and service Reesink provides, and the face-to-face contact, social media content and industry training we offer, have all contributed to our success.”


David Timms, national accounts manager for Reesink Turfcare, says its notable how the business has focused its attention on its new customer base for great results already. “Since the appointment Keys Brothers’ has focused on winning back business and nurturing relationships, and has in turn amassed a sizeable order bank. Simply putting themselves back in front of customers on a regular basis is proving its worth. 


“Their workshops have grown in strength with the additional workload, and they’ve recently recruited additional technicians to the team. If they continue in the manner, then we will have a terrific outlet for the Toro golf and commercial brands for the future.”

For this year's event
International visitors are up this year

Organisers are reporting a high level of internationality among the exhibitors and 14 almost fully-booked exhibition halls.


The organisers of spoga+gafa are reporting a high level of internationality among the exhibitors and 14 almost fully-booked exhibition halls for 16 to 18 June.



With around 96 percent of the exhibition space booked and a high rebooking rate, spoga+gafa say they are carrying on the success of last year.


With over 1,850 exhibitors from 58 countries, the global trade fair say they already recorded an increase in both the number of intercontinental exhibitors and in the exhibiting companies from Europe and the DACH region in 2023. Figures that will also be achieved again in 2024. Particularly the share of companies from Europe and North America has increased significantly compared to last year, they say.


In the face of the challenging circumstances that prevail within the industry, Stefan Lohrberg, Director of spoga+gafa, considers the booking status of the garden lifestyle trade fair to be an important, positive sign. "With their clear commitment to spoga+gafa the companies are sending out a strong signal in spite of the in some cases challenging market conditions. spoga+gafa is the industry's most important meeting point and opens up new and unique business opportunities - ultimately the entire green industry profits from a successful spoga+gafa."


This year's key theme for the show is "Responsible Gardens". International experts will address the theme in lectures and, in addition, an event programme with special areas like the "Boulevard of Ideas", the "POS Green Solution Islands", the Outdoor Lifestyle Trend Show" and theme-based tours will also take place

Maintenance solution
SAPCA's Product of the Year winner

The awards celebrate the achievements of SAPCA members across the sports and play facility construction industry.


The Verti-Top TB from Redexim has been crowned the winner of ‘Product of the Year’ at the 2024 SAPCA Awards.



One of just six awards presented at the annual gala dinner held at the Mattioli Woods Welford Road stadium at the end of February, the machine was also a highly commended runner-up in the ‘Sustainability Award’ category.  

Now into their ninth year, the SAPCA Awards celebrate the achievements of SAPCA members across the sports and play facility construction industry. The six categories are designed to highlight the valuable contribution that SAPCA members make to facilities and communities up and down the country. 

Shortlisted in two categories, the Verti-Top Tow Behind (TB) works on the same principle as the Verti-Top®1200 and larger 1800 PTO driven series but utilises a 6.5hp engine. This allows the machine to be towed by any vehicle without the requirement for a PTO, thus reducing combined weight while offering  cleaning and dust/debris extraction. 

On collecting the trophy for ‘Product of the Year’ Paul Langford, commercial director for Redexim UK, said, “We have always been ahead of the curve when it comes to providing the maintenance solutions demanded by the industry and this award reflects the effort of the whole Redexim team to ensure we are continuously meeting the environmental and industry challenges of today, and those into the future."

Organisers say they are "blown away"
Second edition of trade show has taken place

Organisers say the aim of this show was to build on the previous year by offering more stands and educational opportunities for visitors.


The second edition of the The Scots Turf Show took place at Hamilton Park Racecourse in Scotland recently. Organisers said they saw over 700 visitors and over 60 companies exhibiting, which demonstrated growth and a platform for the future.



The aim of this show, they said, was to build on the success of the previous year by offering more stands and educational opportunities for visitors to explore. An increase in the number of exhibitors from 16 to 64 ensured a diverse range of products from industry names such as Campey Turf Care, AllGrass, Dennis, SIS Pitches, and John Deere.


Organisers said the growing stand count, set to increase again for the third event, has proven Scotland’s desire for a dedicated show, and Scots Turf Founding Committee member Richard Heywood is ready to continue the growth.



“It was fantastic to see such a broad selection of visitors from all aspects of our industry, and the feedback we received from everyone we asked was incredibly positive,” he said.


“We were blown away and delighted with the response we received from companies wanting to exhibit. Our target in year two was to attract 30 businesses. In reality, we ended up attracting over 60, with a waiting list of ten more, and I think that shows the positive impact we’re having in Scotland. 


“I’d say this is our first proper year as a ‘trade show,’ and we were very much encouraged by seeing over 700 visitors coming through the gates, with around 500 arriving in the first hour. 


“It really shows an appetite for something like this in Scotland, and we will be looking to grow year upon year, helping to establish this once again as an event that you need to put in your diary.”


Updates on Scots Turf 2025 are promised for throughout the year, including initiatives to support Scottish charitable causes. While demand for stands is high, companies are invited to apply for next year.

For 2024 edition
EIMA 2024

Organisers promise new sections for drones, agricultural robotics, and advanced digital system demonstrations.


The 46th edition of the EIMA international agricultural mechanics exhibition, is set to take place from 6 to 10 November at the Bologna Fair, featuring a new section for drone, agricultural robot, and advanced digital system demonstrations.



Organisers say they anticipate record attendance with around 1,500 exhibitors already booked, showcasing over 50,000 models of machines and equipment across 14 product sectors and 5 specialised areas.


EIMA International 2024 will also include over 150 conferences, workshops, and seminars to discuss agricultural trends and market influences, alongside the prestigious Technical Innovations competition-exhibition.


The REAL area (Robotics and Electronics for Agriculture Live) will be introduced for the first time at this edition, focusing on demonstrations of drones and agricultural robots.


Simona Rapastella, general director of FederUnacoma who organise the event, said, “Over the years, EIMA has established itself as one of the top events not only in the agro-mechanical sector but in the trade fair scene."


The show is divided into 14 product sectors (from tractors to tillage machinery, from harvesters to vehicles for treatments and systems for the mechanised management of livestock) and in 5 specialised areas, dedicated respectively to components, bioenergy, gardening, irrigation and advanced electronics.

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