Following on from last week’s blog, the weather continues to dampen the start of our growing season with a spate of heavy downpours that are no doubt testing the patience of many turf professionals and volunteers alike.
I have been dodging the rain showers in between some gardening jobs. It would seem from reading Mark Hunt’s comprehensive weather blog we are forecast even more periods of wet weather during May which for me is probably a good thing, in that all this precipitation will help top up our much-depleted reservoirs, lakes and rivers.
This coupled with the fact we have high soil and air temperatures well into double figures, means that grass growth is now vigorous. It will likely catch some local authorities out in terms of keeping the grass cut, especially during the two recent busy bank holidays.
Van Vuuren TURFTICK 2316 and New Holland tractor
My recent travels have included more Green Flag judging of local authority parks. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the grassed areas were being cut and collected on a weekly basis, a task in recent years that has demised for many local authorities.
Burslem Park, Stoke
For several years now, councils have faced continuous budget cuts and are left with little else to make savings on. The recent trend of rewilding and the planting of wildflower areas has to some degree helped make some savings. But talking to many councils, they have substantially reduced their cutting regimes to the bare minimum and we are now seeing a lot of longer grass areas in parks and on road verges.
Turf harvest demo day
Last Wednesday I had the chance to attend a Campey Turf Care Growers Day, held at one of Talbot Turf’s nurseries in Derbyshire.
The day was organised to show some off the latest machinery that’s available for maintaining and harvesting turf.
With over 40 people attending, myself and other members of the trade press were able to watch demos of a wide range of Campey products designed to make the job more efficient and labour saving.
Members of the press
On demo was a self stacking Van Vuuren turf harvester, one of only three currently in the UK. The Campey Turf Brush, Uni Rake, Vredo Seeder and the latest 7m wide Trimax Pegasus rotary mower system were also on display.
Richard Campey and the ever-present team of Campey senior sales representatives were on hand to offer advice to a number of visiting turf professionals that included Stuart Yarwood from DLF and David Howells from Barenbrug, along with a number of professional turf growers.
Bob Sievwright talking Trimax
The demos began with Richad introducing the founder of Trimax Mowing Systems, Bob Sievwright, who spoke about how he started the business back in the 1980s and the chance meeting with Richard Campey that enabled him to bring this new mowing technology to the UK.
On demo was their revamped S5, 7 metre wide, three deck rotary mower. This machine, we heard, has been modified to improve its performance and cutting ability.
Campey Uni Rake
Richard (pictured above) also spoke about the Vredo seeders and Unirakes and introduced a demo of the new 7m wide turf brush which is becoming a popular product for turf growers and greenkeepers to brush large areas to help keep them clean, free of worm casts. It also acts a light process of scarification, cleaning out any surface debris.
Van Vuuren TURFTICK 2316
The final demo of the day was the impressive self-stacking turf harvester that was luckily able to harvest turf in a complete downpour! Corne Van Drogenbroek was on hand to talk us through the selling points of the machine.
The Van Vuuren TURFTICK 2316 performing in the rain
With a cutting width of 16 inches (or on request a 18 or 24 inches), the machine has the capacity to cut up to 1120-1260 m2 per hour depending on pallet size.
It is a suitable machine for turf growers looking at daily performance of between 6000-7000 m2. However, it does come at a cost of around 175,000euros, but the manufacturer does point out its self-stacking system helps reduce labour time. If you do the maths and allow 1euro for each m2 harvested a day, it would be technically paid for after 30 days of harvesting.
I felt it was a truly impressive machine, especially considering we witnessed it operate in difficult ground conditions.
All in all, I had an interesting day catching up with fellow professionals and as usual being well looked after by the Campey team.