Getting out and about
by TurfPro Editor, Laurence Gale MSC, MBPR
Laurence Gale MSC, MBPR

This week as well catching up with the latest developments with the RFU and the Midlands Parks Forum virtually, I made my first post-lockdown site visit.


With Covid-19 restrictions eased regarding travel and social distancing, I finally had the opportunity to go out and visit a sports facility and conduct an interview with a facilities manager / groundsmen this past week.

After much deliberation I decided it would be nice to revisit one of the country’s unique sporting venues, one I enjoyed visiting back in 2015. Set in rolling countryside outside Stokenchurch in Buckinghamshire (Jct 5, M40), Wormsley is a private estate and has been home to the Getty Family since 1985. I really enjoyed catching up with Simon Tremlin and his wife Charlotte to see what changes they have made since my last visit and how they have been coping with the Covid-19 pandemic. A full report will soon be available in a future edition of TurfPro.



Parks webinar


Last week, I also attended several online meetings and webinars enabling me to catch up with the latest news from fellow professionals. First up was a meeting with the Midlands Parks Forum where we had the opportunity to hear a couple of presentations on the current state of playground management followed by a talk on the new planning gain programme, aptly named Biodiversity Net Gain (Natural England).

First to speak was Mark Hardy, Chair of Association of Play Industries (API).

The API is the lead trade body in the play sector. It represents the interests of manufacturers, installers, designers and distributors of both outdoor and indoor play equipment and safer surfacing. The API promotes best practice and high-quality play provision within the play industry. 



Mark was able to give answers to a number of burning questions from the attendees. He spoke about the importance on carrying out pre safety checks before opening up playgrounds to the public and making sure you have revised and carried out the relevant risk assessments on every piece of play equipment and play ground. Stating that parks managers should use the government’s latest guidelines to help implement and ensure play areas are safe and fit for use.



These messages were reaffirmed by Jon Dalton the director of the Play Inspection Company who provide a number of playground inspection related services including annual and post installation inspections, RPII inspector training and qualification renewals.

They also touched on importance for councils to provide clear and concise signs and notices to ensure the public are aware of their responsibilities along with the council when it comes using council run playgrounds. The emphasis should be on the importance of washing hands and using sanitiser products before and after using play equipment.

The second part of the meeting was focussed on the biodiversity net gain – planning programme.

The biodiversity net gain concept seeks measurable improvements for biodiversity by creating or enhancing habitats in association with development. Development proposals must lead to “genuine and demonstrable gains for biodiversity”, against baseline conditions, all of which are quantified using the government’s biodiversity metric.

To achieve biodiversity net gain, proposals must follow the ‘mitigation hierarchy’ which compels planning applicants to avoid harm in the first instance, then mitigate or finally compensate for losses on-site, off-site or through a combination of the two solutions. These measures will be required in planning conditions. More information can be found here.

We were given a detailed presentation from three current Biodiversity Net Gain practitioners:

  • Introduction - by Dave Solly, senior adviser, green infrastructure, Natural England
  • Concept and context Policy drivers including the Environment Bill - By Dr Nick White, principal adviser, Net Gain
  • Practical example – Experiences of testing on the ground – by David Lowe, team leader, Ecology, Historic Environment & Landscape, Warwickshire County Council.

It was certainly a very interesting topic with many councils now pursuing this method of net gaining within their planning departments, with parks officers taking the lead to ensure these gains are met.


Rugby Groundsmen Connected

My next meeting was taking part in a live RFU Rugby Groundsmen Connected webinar titled Feeding Your Turf that took place last Thursday evening.



This saw the RFU head groundman, Jim Buttar, talking about the decisions required by club groundmen before they apply any fertiliser to their pitches.
He spoke about the need to understand your soil and by taking physical soil samples you can evaluate your soil type and ascertain its nutrient status. Once armed with this information you can then determine the correct type of fertiliser inputs for your pitches.



Jim went on to explain the varied fertiliser products on the market, how they work and their longevity depending on what soil you have to manage. During the meeting, several polls were conducted to ask the attendees what soils they have and what was their frequency of application and type of fertiliser they were using?



The responses were very interesting. Regarding ‘what type of soil do you have?’, 70% responded that they knew what soil they had, whereas 30% did not know.

As for what ratio of NPK fertilisers they were using, an array of different ratios and types of product types were mentioned. All in all, it was a particularly good webinar with many attendees commenting at the end of the meeting how much they enjoyed Jim’s presentation.

I can see the RFU doing many more of these in the coming months enabling the opportunity to exchange relevant information for their members.


Tough conditions

As for the latest on our industry shows, you can read today the GMA’s latest update on Saltex. Luke Perry their event show organiser admitted that show preparations are somewhat different to the usual event planning. There is still uncertainty and questions arising as to how large gatherings and exhibitions will be delivered.

I personally think that there will be certain manufacturers and companies who will be considering very carefully whether they should attend the show. For me, it is still too early to predict what the scenarios will be next March? Will companies have the spare cash to invest? Will the public be keen to attend?

I read with dismay in Friday's edition of our Service Dealer magazine the demise of one machinery dealer in Surrey. Consumer confidence is at an all time low and we will no doubt see many more companies struggling in the coming months.

It would be interesting to hear what the manufacturers have to say about attending industry shows in this difficult economic climate.

Say organisers GMA
SALTEX and events director, Luke Perry

This week's WEB ONLY story is SALTEX and events director, Luke Perry, has spoken about the planned event for next March saying they don't yet have all the answers but he believes the show will have an important role to play.


Co-chairperson of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Golf
Craig Tracey MP

BIGGA will welcome Craig Tracey MP, to its Continue to Learn Extra webinar series tomorrow (Tuesday 21 July).


BIGGA have announced they will welcome the co-chairperson of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Golf, Craig Tracey MP, to its Continue to Learn Extra webinar series tomorrow (Tuesday 21 July).

All Party Groups comprise members of all political parties and support specific interests. In the case of the Golf Group, members work to a deliberately broad but simple remit, “to support the game of golf”.

Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, the MP for North Warwickshire has worked closely with BIGGA and the governing bodies of golf. Taking advice from the industry, he was actively involved in advising the Government on behalf of the golf industry, helping produce guidance upon the reopening of golf.

BIGGA say they have been heavily involved in that discussion, offering help and advice at every stage on behalf of the greenkeeping industry. BIGGA CEO Jim Croxton will speak to Craig about everything that took place during the coronavirus crisis and will discuss the challenges ahead for the golf industry.

BIGGA’s Continue to Learn Extra webinar series was introduced at the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. Webinars are hosted on the BIGGA website and available to watch live by anyone interested in the golf industry.

BIGGA’s Jim Croxton said, “The coronavirus crisis has been an incredibly trying time for everyone associated with the sports and amenity industries. By presenting a unified front across the entire golf industry and supported by Craig Tracey MP and his team, we were able to highlight the positive benefits of playing golf and show how the sport could be played and golf courses maintained in a safe manner. This allowed the industry to reopen ahead of many others and I am looking forward to recapping with Craig everything that took place and discussing his vision for the future of the sport.

“Continue to Learn Extra’s live webinars are open to anyone with an interest in the topics discussed and I hope that you’re able to join us for what stands to be a fascinating conversation.”

For more info on the webinar, click here.

Option to complete courses and exams online
Sue Mason, BASIS exams and training manager

Move made to ensure standards are maintained in the industry and training can continue.


BASIS is offering candidates the option to complete courses and exams online, to ensure standards are maintained in the industry and training can continue.

Having worked with the HSE Chemicals Regulation Division (CRD) and accreditation partner Harper Adams University throughout the process, a number of  BASIS exams are now fully digital. Written exams are completed using online exam and invigilation software, followed by viva examinations via video call.

Sue Mason, BASIS exams and training manager, explains that the new invigilation software, QMark, enables BASIS to deliver examinations under stringent conditions, akin to being held in traditional exam format without the need to meet face-to-face or in groups.

“We’re pleased this is now in place,” says Sue.

“We know a number of candidates have either completed their training, or were near finishing earlier in the year, so this gives everyone the opportunity to finalise training and undertake the exams to gain the qualification.

“The online exams will mirror the format of a formal written test. We’ve worked closely with Harper Adams to ensure the software is quality assured so we’re delivering exams in the same conditions,” she adds.

Should candidates have halted training mid-way through the course due to lockdown, BASIS is still offering this online alternative, with the new exam format taking place once the course has been completed.

Stephen Jacob, BASIS CEO, says this online offering means important training and certification can still go ahead, despite the current restrictions, to maintain industry standards and customer or employer expectations.

“We want to ensure all those looking to complete exams and become accredited members of the Professional Register in 2020 can do so. The process hasn’t altered, we’ve just gone digital.

“I would advise those looking to take their exams to speak to their BASIS approved trainer to discuss the next steps to undertake their exams,” concludes Stephen.

Two new schemes launched
Toro and Reesink have launched two new financial schemes launched

Two companies have combined to offer a ‘buy now pay later’ at zero percent interest finance option and also a lease hire option, both of which include lengthy payment holidays.


Toro and its UK distributor Reesink Turfcare have announced two new finance schemes which they describe as "industry-firsts" specifically designed to support customers in 2020-2021 and beyond.


The two companies have combined to offer a ‘buy now pay later’ at zero percent interest finance option and also a lease hire option, both of which include lengthy payment holidays.



Alastair Rowell, national accounts manager - grounds for Reesink Turfcare, says, “These two finance deals react to the current times. Together with Toro, we wanted to show support to our customers. We understand that cashflow is, and perhaps will be for some time, uncertain, yet machines are still needed now to maintain courses to the best possible standards. Now, more than ever, the focus has to be on retaining and increasing memberships.”


These two options both offer a six-month payment holiday, one requiring a single payment and the other offering reduced payments to reflect residual values.


The ‘buy now pay later’ option is a familiar product but is described by the companies as an "embellished deal in response to the COVID-19 landscape".


Customers can order any time between July and December 2020 with the deal at zero percent interest, with a single payment required 7 May 2021.


The second option is a lease hire option with a six month pause period followed by either 60 monthly payments or five annual payments, according to each individual customer’s cashflow requirements.


Alastair says, “This option provides longer term financing in conjunction with very competitive finance terms. There is a six-month payment ‘holiday’ and the residual value of the machines are maintained at a strong level to the original cost. It provides a big benefit at the beginning of the term and leverages strong residual values to keep payments down.


“What’s new is that these two plans provide clubs with options to suit their likely financial position from the middle part of 2021”, Alastair explains. “The point we kept coming back to when thinking about how best we could support our customers during this time was how uncertain it all is.


“Offering these two repayment plans will enable clubs to then focus on maintaining their courses so they look beautiful and play great, and to keep existing members happy while attracting new ones”.


In addition to these two plans, there are many other repayment options that clubs can consider, including three, four or five year monthly or annual options.


Both deals are available on all Toro fine turf and grounds machinery, and also includes TYM tractors when bought as part of a Toro fleet deal. Finance is subject to credit acceptance.

Four dealerships appointed so far this year

A network of established dealers is being constructed for the distribution of the Infinicut and TMSystem ranges.


A network of established dealers is being constructed for the distribution of the Infinicut and TMSystem ranges.



Since the beginning of the year, a number of dealerships have signed up to offer sales and support.


Taking on the ranges have been Turner Groundscare and Balmers GM in the North of England, and Scamblers and P Tuckwells covering the Central and Eastern regions.


On their appointment, Gareth Baker, general manager of Turner Groundscare said, “We’re absolutely delighted to be able to supply the Infinicut range of battery powered mowers. They’re an exciting product that are in high demand. We have found that our turf professionals love the flexibility of the changeable cassettes and impressive battery life."

With the aim of achieving coverage across the United Kingdom, sales manager Vinny Tarbox says the job of building the network is not finished yet.


“It is testament to the quality of the product and its reputation in the market that we have signed up the sales outlets we have in such a short period of time, and we are delighted to have some well-respected and well-established partners working together with us. But we’re not stopping there! We will be making further appointments in the not too distant future which will help us to bring our ranges to even more venues around the country.”

Investment in new kit
Kiveton Town FC with club secretary Gordon Johnson on the New Holland tractor

Kiveton Park FC’s team of volunteer grounds people have welcomed the arrival of a New Holland Boomer 40 and Trimax Striker from Campey Turf Care Systems.


Kiveton Park FC’s team of volunteer grounds people have welcomed the arrival of a New Holland Boomer 40 and Trimax Striker from Campey Turf Care Systems.



The Yorkshire-based club restructured three years ago and moved from their previous site to Wales High School. When they arrived, there was one football pitch on the school’s front field with burnt in lines and plenty of work to do. But now, led by the enthusiasm and growing knowledge of club secretary Gordon Johnson, the club is being recognised for the quality of their eight pitches.

“I’ve got a passion for groundsmanship which I found when we moved to the school,” Gordon explained. “The Sheffield FA pointed us towards the Grounds Management Association, and we became members and signed up to the FA’s Pitch Improvement Programme. From there, I got really into it and did a level one course, and I’ve progressed from what I learnt on my level one with more maintenance techniques to try and get more games on. This year I did my level two at Stockport County FC, which was brilliant, and I absolutely loved it.

“It was through a coaching course that I got involved with Campey. One of the FA Tutors told me we could apply for an equipment grant from the Football Foundation and the amount was significantly higher than before so as a grassroots club we didn’t have to put as much money in.

“I applied for it, and the guys at the Sheffield FA were brilliant and guided me through it. I did a lot of homework based on the Pitch Improvement Programme because it tells you what equipment you might need. I Googled searched it and found an article that explained how Campey had done a similar thing with another grassroots club and the guy from that club was sitting in his tractor and I thought we could have that.

“Campey was absolutely brilliant with us. I got talking to Simon Holland, who was absolutely superb. He was asking me all the right questions like do we want turf tyres - which we would have probably missed - and other little questions like that. We spoke about whether we were planning to just cut or do other things with the tractor and we are, so he suggested a manual gear system rather than a foot pedal which is better for the volunteers. It was advice like that which really helped us.

“With the money we saved in those areas, we were able to get a better quality cutting deck with the Trimax Striker, which again Simon suggested, and it’s a brilliant bit of kit. We were ready to get it just before COVID-19, so the machines were sat in their yard until they could complete the installation safely. But when we did get them, they were absolutely brilliant. They came out and showed us the machines and went through all the care aspects as well. They didn’t want to just deliver it, they wanted to give us that bit extra customer care and go that extra mile, and I was really impressed with that.”

The quality of pitches has gone full circle at Kiveton Park FC from burnt in lines to hosting League Cup Finals, and with the new machinery, Gordon hopes to take them even further. With their own tractor, the club can now look at hiring in other machinery to save on contracting costs which allows them to redistribute funds into their other community projects.

Intended to support dealer network
KingQuad 500X

Suzuki is inviting customers to trade in their existing ATV to qualify for 10% off the RRP net price of a new KingQuad 500X.


Suzuki has launched a new promotion which they say is intended to support their dealer network.


Under the new ‘Trade Up’ promotion customers will receive a discount of 10% off the net value of a new KingQuad 500X when trading in any midrange quad of any brand with an engine capacity between 325cc to 425cc.

National sales manager for Suzuki’s ATV Division, Harvey Day, said, "We hope that this promotion will support our dealer network in targeting a wider audience and help them secure even more long-term customer relationships moving forward.”


More details of the Trade Up campaign can be found here.

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Catch up with Laurence Gale's recent blogs
TurfPro editor, Laurence Gale

Want to catch up with one of editor Laurence Gale's blogs? Here is the place to do so.


Refreshing to see


What can be done?


Vitally important right now


Prevalence of turf diseases


True value of parks highlighted


Much needed rain


We're entering a new phase


Impressive response from our sports turf industry


Golf courses reopen


Of the pandemic


After six weeks of lockdown


During the Covid-19 crisis


During the lockdown


As best and as safely as we can


Our pace of life has changed dramatically


Grasping the effects on our industry


Covid-19's impact on our sector


Makita launch 30 new products


It takes years to acquire all the turf professional skills


New month to hopefully bring much needed sunshine and drying winds


Come again another day!


What can we do to help?


Essential renovations


Amenity Forum making plans


Successful BTME 2020


Our industry can help tackle the growing obesity crisis


Plenty to occupy in January


What might 2020 hold in store?


View all of 2019's blogs here


View all of 2018's blogs here

Find our previous features here
TurfPro Feature Archive

If you want to catch up with any of TurfPro's previous features, here is the place to do so.

Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) and antioxidants during biotic and abiotic stress in turfgrass plants


The coming months are going to prove very difficult


Is the abuse of society


A statement from the Parks Management Forum to the Prime Minister


Innovative, creative and entrepreneurial


Cricket under covid


Debate brought back into focus


Running golf design projects from home


Cementing the reputation


10 years at the helm of Olton GC


The day the Lord's outfield reconstruction proved its worth


Finding a sensible way forward on defining "essential maintenance"




Fundamental to the survival of almost all courses, if not of the game itself


. . along with ‘lunch is being taken early’


An urgent problem


Successful BTME 2020


Opportunity to embrace new methods


Major investments taking place


A great success


Buoyant GIE+EXPO


At Gleneagles


Behind the scenes at the Solheim Cup


2006 - present


Boorish media comments about pitch quality are wide of the mark


360 Ground Care serving professional facilities


Judging the Green Flag Awards


What does it all mean in managing turf surfaces?


Dry weather conditions continue to keep turf managers focused on moisture management


Death of Wimbledon’s influential grounds manager


At Top 100 classic Berkhamsted Golf Club


Investment paying off at Kenilworth Road


At Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens


The vital impact of parks and green spaces on health and well-being


Without carbendazim


Battery-powered outdoor power tools are now turning the heads of professionals


Sand-based pitches are now the norm in professional sports


We must maintain industry standards


11 things you need to know . . .


Q&A with BASIS ceo, Stephen Jacobs


Hosted at research trial grounds in Bingley


Leicester City FC invest in new role


Mick Hunt bows out after 49 years


Is it really necessary?

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Campey Turf Care Systems
Garden trader
Garden Trader
STIHL battery products
by Laurence Gale, TurfPro editor
Mark Hall, estates manager at Harper Adams University

I recently carried out practical tests on two STIHL battery products, the HTA 85 cordless pole pruner and the RMA 765 V lawn mower, in both domestic and professional settings.


One of the most rewarding aspects of being an editor for TurfPro is having the opportunity to delve into so many different areas of work and meet up with so many turf and horticultural professionals. I particularly like visiting sports venues and meeting up with people who dedicate their lives to managing our landscape features and turf surfaces.


However hard they work, the are only as efficient as the machinery and tools they have at their disposal. As we all know from attending our annual trade shows (BTME and SALTEX) our practitioners have a wide choice and array of machinery to choose from – and there’s nothing quite like getting your hands on some of the latest bits of kit and machinery!



Last year, I was lucky enough to attend a STIHL factory visit.


The factory site was formerly the production line for the Viking brand of garden shredders in 1982, before progressing to making Viking lawn mowers in 1984.


In 1992 STIHL bought out Viking and began the renewal of the range of garden tools they could offer. The company were still producing a range of mowers and selling them under the brand name of Viking. However, in 2017 the process of amalgamation began and by 2019 all products are now being sold with STIHL orange branding.


A family-owned business based in Germany, STIHL employs more than 17,000 staff worldwide and sells products in more than 160 countries globally. The company’s range spans chainsaws, hedge trimmers, grass trimmers, brush cutters, multi-tools, pressure washers, construction machinery, lawn mowers, lawn tractors, robotic mowers and other garden equipment and accessories.


During the visit I asked if I would be able to test some STIHL products back in the UK with the aim of giving myself and some fellow professionals the chance to review these products in the work place.


Hence today I can write about the testing of two new products, the STIHL HTA 85 cordless pole pruner and their latest professional battery-powered lawn mower, the STIHL RMA 765 V. Both machines are part of the AP System, which includes cordless tools designed for large gardens and professional application.


HTA 85 cordless pole pruner



First up for testing was the STIHL HTA 85 cordless pole pruner.


The HTA 85 is a designed as a lightweight and powerful cordless telescopic pole pruner, suitable for grounds maintenance, orchards, tree maintenance and arborists. Weighing 4.9 kg (without battery), the HTA 85 can extend from 270 cm to 390 cm quickly and simply and is equipped with a 1/4” PM3 saw chain as standard. It came with a AR 3000 L and AR L carrying system, and their AP 300 battery, AL 300 charger and AP adapter.


Private garden useage


My first task was to check over the machinery and ensure the batteries were fully charged and ready to go. To test the equipment I enlisted Robin Bryon, a neighbour and friend of mine, to help as he had a tree he wanted to crown reduce in his garden. Also helpfully, Robin is experienced in the use of chainsaws and has spent most of his working life in mechanical engineering.


From watching Robin using the pole pruner it soon became apparent it was seemingly easy to use, with its telescopic arm soon at full stretch to reach some high branches working from ground level. The PM3 chain easily coped with sawing through the branches and was relatively quiet in its operation. We used the AP 300 for this first test.



Robin then tried out the pole pruner using the AR 3000 L backpack battery and AR L carrying system, all of which was easy to set up and use. The cable from the AR 3000 L plugs into the AP adapter, which transfers power into the battery slot on the HTA 85. The pole pruner coped very easily with the size of branches he needed to cut - anything between 25 mm - 75 mm in diameter.



I then tried the pole pruner and found it easy to control, with little or no vibration. The pole pruner is easier to use at its shortest operating length but does need a bit more thought and concentration when fully extended.


Having the shoulder harness, which comes as standard with the HTA 85, helps balance the pole pruner when in use and I liked the simple extension system and locking device on the pole of the tool.


We both liked the combination of being able to either use a single AP battery in the pole pruner or having the opportunity for longer running times using the AR L backpack battery and carrying system.

However, one point to note, the AR L battery pack is quite heavy (9.5 kg) but the harness system is extremely easy to fit and relatively comfortable.


Professional setting useage



Following our home testing, I visited Harper Adams University where I was able to get the pole pruner heavily trialled by Mark Hall, their estates manager, who was keen to test it out over several days.


On my return, Mark was able to give me a thorough report on its performance. No stranger to using STIHL products, Mark already has a raft of their petrol driven machinery and in fact has the petrol version of the HTA 85.


He even took it out with him to compare the two machines. He told me he was certainly impressed with the battery equivalent, making particular comment on the battery life of the machine using the single AP 300 battery (approximately 55 minutes on a full charge).



He also tried using the AR L backpack battery and carrying system, but like me found it quite heavy and restricting. He was quite happy using the tool with the single AP 300 battery knowing full well he had a spare one if needed.


He was also complimentary about having the ability to change the cutting angle of the pole pruner, by simply twisting the saw on the rotating pole. He again was impressed with its low noise and vibration emissions, however, when fully extended it became more difficult to handle.


Mark, having compared both machines, says he would not hesitate to change to the cleaner battery powered pole pruner. Battery powered equipment will eventually become the norm in the coming years and, as technologies improve their reliability and performance, will only improve over time.


RMA 765 V lawn mower


Next up for testing was STIHL’s cordless professional RMA 765 V lawn mower. I was able to get this tested locally both in private garden settings and at Harper Adams University where their staff trialled the mower on some of the communal grass areas.


While unpacking the mower from its box, I was impressed with its build quality. Very well constructed, simple and robust, the mono-comfort handlebar suitably folds down easily too!


The lawn mower is powered by a 36 V lithium-ion battery from the AP System. STIHL says the robust RMA 765 V is suited for work in noise-sensitive areas and is highly manoeuvrable thanks to the zero turn function of the front wheels. Both front and rear wheels are height adjustable from 25 mm – 100 mm. The professional lawn mower can be run using the new AR L backpack batteries, helping to deliver longer running times for full-day work assignments.


With a 63 cm cutting width, it has been designed for professional gardeners and landscapers. The mower boasts a five-speed control panel, featuring an eco-mode and a battery power level indicator to ensure professional users have full sight of the performance of the machine at a quick glance.
The mono-comfort handlebar is adjustable to three different heights, allowing users to find the most suitable setting and providing easier access to the grass catcher box.


The aluminium and polymer hybrid housing features front, side and gearbox protection, as well as the polymer inner housing being impact and abrasion resistant. In addition, the 63 cm cutting deck utilises synchronised multi-blades that have been designed to lift the grass, cut it and blow the grass cuttings into the grass catcher bag.


Fitting the AR 3000 L battery is easy with location studs making it quick and simple. Starting the mower is easy and the mower controls are clear and easy to operate. The cutting height of the new RMA 765 V can be variably adjusted between 25 mm - 100 mm and can be adapted to different conditions due to the individual wheel height adjustment.


Private garden useage


Both myself and Robyn tested the mower out on his domestic lawns. It was simple to use and noticeably quiet.



We both found it exceptionally manoeuvrable thanks to the zero-turn function of the front wheels.


We were able to change the height of cut easily and were very impressed with its cutting quality, along with its ability to collect a full box of grass. Having twin rotary cutting blades was certainly the reason for this.



Professional setting useage

I then took the mower for the staff of Harper Adams University to trial, who again had it for a week. Mark and his staff said they were quite impressed with the build quality, cutting performance and battery life. However, they did have concerns over the front jockey wheels, in that they tended to have a mind of their own when running down slopes. Their only other comment was they felt that the safety handles could have been designed for use with both left and right hands and they felt that the safety handles should be set the other way round for turning on the blades and moving forward.


All in all, I feel the overall functionality of the mower is very good. I liked the cutting quality and its easy manoeuvrability. The twin rotary blades certainly provide a good finish and propel the grass well into the grass box. It was also easy and quick to change the height of cut settings on the front and rear wheels.


Battery life was excellent and charged quickly - within twenty minutes for a half recharge. The width of the mower (63 cm) makes it wider than most pedestrian mowers (53 cm) while it weighs in at 42 kg, without battery. The battery weighs around 9.5 kg, therefore giving a total weight of the mower around 50 kg.



As for price, the RMA 765 V lawn mower currently retails at £1499.00 for the machine by itself. The AR 3000 L backpack battery costs £1499.00 for the battery by itself, or £1599.00 with the connecting cable and AP adapter included. The RMA 765 V lawn mower set, which comes with an AR 3000 L backpack battery, AL 500 charger, connecting cable, AP adapter and AR L carrying system, retails at an overall £3299.99. I know this sounds like a lot of money, but once you have paid that, there are no fuelling costs over the life of the machine. You are also investing in a battery system that can be used with any other tool in the AP System, including the HTA 85 pole pruner

I really can see these mowers becoming a popular buy in the years to come. It will be interesting to see if STIHL has plans to introduce a rear roller to the battery range to deliver a stripping affect.

Q&A with Chris Worman, Rugby Borough Council’s parks and ground manager
Chris Worman MBE FLI - Rugby Borough Council’s parks and ground manager

TurfPro will be speaking to members of the newly formed Parks Management Forum over the coming weeks, beginning with Chris Worman of Rugby Borough Council who talks about covid, austerity and recruitment.


Laurence Gale, TurfPro editor writes . . .


As a member of the newly formed Parks Management Forum I would like, over the next few weeks, to introduce you to some of the key members of the Forum so that we have a better understanding of the role parks managers play in managing and maintaining our vital public open spaces that we have treasured during this Covid-19 pandemic.

These key people who have spent many years working for local authorities are best placed to inform us of the many issues and challenges they face managing these wonderful assets.

Most of us would agree these parks and public open spaces have been essential to the wellbeing of thousands of people and are now more popular than ever. However, to ensure their future we need to begin investing appropriate monies and funding to retain these parks and allow these dedicated parks professionals to be able to deliver these core services for the next generations.

The Forum has not been set up to lobby for the need for good-quality public parks. That case has been made incessantly over the last twenty five years. It has been set up to give a voice to parks professionals, who know more about these places than anyone. We work in them daily; we know our trees and our flowers, our water management and our ice-cream sales, but we also know our users; we know how vital parks are across our communities, and especially in poorer communities. These are not pay-per-entry leisure facilities or stately homes; free access to good quality parks and open spaces is as fundamental to physical and mental health as free access to health care.

This Forum represents an unrivalled reservoir of understanding, expertise, and dedication. Running parks is an expert job and we are determined to make our voice heard by politicians as they formulate policies and make financial decisions which have huge repercussions for the viability of public open space. For too long parks, as a discretionary service, we have been a poor relation of other public services, down the pecking order as just a ‘nice-to-have’. The Covid-19 crisis has shown that is not where they belong.

Over the coming months, we will establish this Forum as the authoritative source of information about public parks and park management. It will be a resource for professionals and a shop window for what we do. And we will begin the long job of re-establishing the park professional as a key part of the delivery of healthy, resilient communities.


Chris Worman MBE FLI - Rugby Borough Council’s parks and ground manager


Chris Worman MBE has over 36 years’ experience in the parks industry and is currently Rugby Borough Council’s parks and ground manager.

His responsibilities including managing and maintaining over 350 hectares of green space across Rugby which range from town parks and play areas, to woodland, nature areas and small amenity spaces. Another key role is supporting the planning department in the future planning of green infrastructure in a fast expanding borough. Working for a small authority he also finds himself picking up other responsibilities such as road closures under the Town & Police Clauses act, special events and war memorials.

Chris started his career as an apprentice gardener for Leicester City Council and quickly moved through the ranks to become a team leader, before moving onto Hinckley & Bosworth Borough Council as parks and cemeteries officer. Whilst working at Hinckley, Chris gained a post graduate degree in management studies from De-Montfort University. In 2002 he moved to Rugby Borough Council where he has been manager for 18 years.

He has been a member of the West Midlands Parks forum for over 20 years where he served as vice chair and is now a volunteer supporter of the Midlands Parks Forum.

Being passionate about parks and green spaces for as long as he can remember, he became a Green Flag Award judge from the very start of the awards and over the past 24 years volunteering has had the opportunity to judge 100’s of parks both around the UK and beyond. He has undertaken a number of international judging tours including Spain, the Middle East, Mexico and America.

For his service to the Green Flag Awards and public parks he was awarded an MBE in the Queens 90th Birthday honours in 2016.


In 2017 Chris was appointed to the governments Parks Action Group as the parks industry representative and was invited to be a Fellow of The Landscape Institute in 2019.


What made you choose a career in local authority parks management?

Growing up in the inner city, parks were always an important part of my childhood. Whether for a picnic, just feeding the ducks, or sledging in winter, these spaces provide a wealth of happy memories. I therefore always knew that I could never work in a factory. In addition, I was often drafted in to help on my father’s allotment, so it seemed a natural step to apply for a job with the local authority parks department. I was lucky enough to finish school at 16 and straight away started work as an apprentice gardener at £40.00 a week.

The rest, as they say, is history.

How many staff do you manage and what portfolio do you sit in?

We sit within the Environment and Public Realm Portfolio. I manage a total of 29 staff which range from the gardeners and grounds staff to arboricultral officers, green space officers and a park ranger. These intern work with countless volunteers who support the work that we do. (over 15,000hrs of volunteering in 2019).


Are your staff in-house, private contractor or a mix of both?

Our grounds maintenance is provided in-house and that also sits within my service. However, I like to think that we also understand our limitations and use contractors where it makes both practical and financial sense. For example, all our arboricultural services are provided externally.

What have been the significant challenges you had to face in managing your parks and opens paces in the last few years?

The biggest challenge quite simply has to be the effects of austerity, the large cuts in budgets which has led to a loss of staff. This has proved particularly hard when we have been forced to reduce standards, which has resulted in a lot of negative public feedback. This can be demoralising for staff who take a pride in their work. And all at a time when the public’s expectations and demands for improvements have never been higher.

To some extent we have been our own worst enemy as a lot of this has been hidden by the extraordinary efforts of the staff within the parks sector to adapt and change. Dare I even say that some of us still believe in public service?


How have you coped with the repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic?

We have all had to cope in different ways. Most of my grounds staff were redeployed to delivering food and medicines to our most vulnerable communities who were shielding. All other staff have been either working from home or been out ‘on the ground’ dealing with issues such as enforcing the play area closures, and social distancing rules. And as lockdown has eased the reopening of facilities.

The redeployment of staff has resulted in a 3-month backlog of work and, with the gradual lifting of lockdown, the public expect things to be back to normal straight away. Which of course they are not. It will require a Herculean effort to try to catch up as some green spaces will have seen no maintenance for months with revised work schedules and working patterns to ensure social distancing for staff. On the flip side with only undertaking very skeleton maintenance some areas have seen an increase in longer grass and along with it, a significant biodiversity bonus.


Whilst Covid-19 has brought many challenges to the sector, it has also focused a lot of attention on how people engage with their local green space. Some people have rediscovered spaces on their doorstep that they haven’t visited in years, whilst others struggled not to sit on the grass, soak up being outdoors and enjoy the sunshine, even when they knew they shouldn’t.

This has been most evident in those communities across the UK where residents live in high-rise flats, apartments and terraced houses with no gardens. Sometimes located in our most disadvantaged communities, the need to access quality green space for mental and physical wellbeing is vital, albeit whilst abiding by social distancing. It has also highlighted the social inequality between those that can access quality green space and those than cannot. It has also seen our communities visit parks in their thousands as we all try to cope with so many of taken for granted freedoms which were temporarily curtailed.

What are the new challenges for your service coming out of Covid 19?

The challenges are very similar to before Covid-19, but just magnified even bigger. The public have discovered the very local green spaces that haven’t been invested in for years and are already wanting improvements. Local authority budgets are already on their knees just months into the new financial year. We have also suffered a significant loss of income since March with no cafes open, no sport being played and no events, so we need to see what the long term impact of this may be.

Whilst all of this is a challenge, it also presents a unique opportunity to change the way we view and value our green spaces. If the political will is there for a real green recovery, with parks and green spaces at the centre, we could see a new green Britain emerging from the pandemic. Wouldn’t that be a great legacy to the tens of thousands of people that have sadly died and the shared experience that we have collectively lived through? This could help bring jobs, economic growth, community engagement, inward investment, biodiversity gain and improved public health.


Another challenge is the impact of the sheer number of people that are now using parks, ( estimates range from 136%-300% increase) along with the reasons they are using them. For many months Parks were the only place where people could socialise so they became impromptu pub gardens or eateries with major issues of litter. If these numbers are sustained then the costs in increased litter collection, inspections and patrols and toilet cleaning along with general wear and tear will need to be addressed.

Do you think we will have a problem attracting new people into the parks sector in the coming years?

This is one of our biggest challenges, and one we need to overcome. It is vital that we attract new people from across all our communities. The problem is who wants to join local authorities that spend a lot of its time just cutting services? Its not the most attractive job advert!

However we need a new younger, and more diverse workforce who are fired up by the issues of climate change, biodiversity, community and social inequality to bring a renewed energy into the parks sector. And there are lots of great people already in the sector who share this passion and can help mentor them. Despite all the challenges it still a great sector to be part of. You do have opportunities to make a difference, sometimes, small and sometimes big and from my experience you get out of it what you put in.


We are also lucky to have the Green Flag Awards scheme that brings unique learning experiences that are priceless to anyone that wants to see the diverse range of parks and green spaces, and the potential career opportunities that exist within the sector. Being part of this also helps you connect with colleagues across the country (and in my case the world) and gives a sense of being part of a wider (global) industry.

What changes would you like to see to help parks professionals deliver the best possible service?

To me the elephant in the room has to be recognised and discussed. We need long term sustainable funding that provides equal provision and protection of quality parks and green spaces for all. To that end we must engage in the debate over public money for public good. Whilst there are a few unique examples for small scale income generation opportunities this will never become a mainstream source for the majority of public parks. If we have money, we have staff, if we have staff we can be innovative and creative, flexible and adaptable and actually start to deliver on some of the big issues of today, such as the public health and climate emergencies.

To achieve this we need cross party political support and a national parks and green spaces strategy / framework, similar to those of litter and recycling. The debate needs to move away from the cost of cutting grass, to the value of having quality, usable, accessible and safe green spaces that meet the expectations and needs of our communities. To invest in parks is an investment in the nation’s health and wellbeing.

How do you think the newly formed Parks Management Forum can help you to promote and enhance the opportunities and work of the parks professional?

The Parks Management Forum in key in getting the voice heard of the rank and file parks professionals that, day in day out, managing tens of thousands of parks across the UK. These are people that have kept going throughout all the challenges of the past 30 years, and these are the people that can deliver on the ground in the future.

Promoting the parks agenda across all levels of both local and national government is key, along with collaborating with all the other bodies that have an interest in the parks and green spaces agenda.

In the world of the 21st century parks manager it can also support parks professionals with a parks and green space library where you can find information, guidance and support, or signpost people to where this may exist.