Budgets everywhere are under pressure. But can you afford not to be in Harrogate in two weeks' time? Opening its doors on Tuesday 24 January, the 25th annual BTME (British & International Golf Greenkeepers Association (BIGGA)Turf Management Exhibition), part of Harrogate Week, is free to attend and has more than 150 exhibitors displaying all you need in terms of machinery, equipment and materials.
There is advice, too. This year BIGGA is hosting more than 60 educational workshops and seminars throughout Harrogate Week - and many are free to attend.
Last year, Harrogate Week attracted 6,019 visitors. And if you think it is just for greenkeepers, then think again. In 2011, the exhibition attracted nearly 450 park keepers. Whether you work in golf, football, parks, estates or landscaping, there is plenty to see and hear at BTME.
Making its debut at the show is Trilo's new B7 three-point linkage mounted blower. Designed to blow leaves, litter, debris and standing water from golf courses, sports grounds and synthetic pitches, the B7 is equipped with a hydraulically operated 180 degs reverse spout and can work to either side of tractors from 30hp upwards. Find out more on The Grass Group's stand (A27a).
Also presented for the first time in production format is the Grass Group's modified and refined RGD140 disc overseeder. Built by Dairon, it uses an adjustable height disc to cut a slit. The following coulter opens the slit before metered seed is sown directly into the groove. A rear roller closes the soil around the seed. Developed for golf greens and tees, the 1.4m working width should also appeal to those tending fairways, cricket fields and football pitches.
A top dresser that can be mounted or trailed to work with tractors or turf vehicles is being launched by Charterhouse Turf Machinery on stand (B37). The DS500 is a compact unit said to be suited to managers demanding more control over top-dressing applications and needing the ability to put on lighter coverings on a regular basis. It features precise hydraulic controls to both the conveyor and the spinning discs, and gives a spreading width up to 9m. With a hopper capacity of 485 litres, the DS500 weighs 420kg.
Charterhouse's Verti-Cut 1200 dethatcher also makes its BTME debut this year, along with the latest Verti-Drain model. The 1.6m-wide Verti-Drain 2216, the company's new high-speed model, is capable of deep decompaction - down to 240mm.
Machines from John Deere's new expanded 2012 product line-up for golf courses and amenity turf are featured on stand M52. They include the new 220SL PrecisionCut walk-behind greens mower, designed to deliver a top-quality finish on golf courses, tennis courts, cricket squares, bowling greens and other fine turf areas. There is also a chance to see a special display of John Deere's complete range of E-Cut hybrid mowers.
JD's hybrid electric technology was the first to market in 2005 and is now featured on the broadest single-brand range of hybrid amenity turf mowers. On display is the 200E walk-behind greens mower, the 2500E triplex greens mower, the 8000E three-wheeled fairway mower and the 7500E and 8500E fairway mowers. All feature a Speed Link system to quickly adjust cut height.
If you are looking for a new tractor, John Deere's stand should again be on your list. The firm is showing the new 1026R sub-compact. Designed for those who want to do more than just cut grass, this model can be used with a wide range of quick-change attachments, plus a front loader with a lift capacity of 380kg to full height. The tractor has a 26hp three-cylinder diesel engine and two-range hydrostatic transmission with Twin-Touch pedals.
There are more mowers on Ransomes Jacobsen's main stand (M42), where the Suffolk-based company is unveiling the new Eclipse 2 pedestrian greens model. Star of the display, the Eclipse 2 is available as a petrol-electric hybrid or fully electric with drop-in battery pack and comes in cutting widths of 18in, 22in or 26in, with a choice of fixed or floating heads. Across the walkway on stand M24, Ransomes has a display dedicated to Cushman and E-Z-GO brands. The new Cushman Hauler turf utility vehicle takes pride of place here.
Also on the Ransomes Jacobsen stand is the all-electric 322 with new three-wheel drive kit to provide increased traction on severely undulating courses.
You can also find chemistry at BTME. If you need to manage water on playing surfaces, make a beeline for Syngenta's stand (B38b), where turf managers have the first chance to see an exciting new concept in wetting-agent technology.
It is described as combining the best attributes of penetrantand polymer-type products into one easy-to-use solution to move water away quickly from the surface and so optimise playing quality and then, crucially, hold soil moisture more efficiently and evenly deep with the root zone for use by turf plants.
Trials in the lab and on the golf course have shown this better retention of soil water can improve the efficacy of irrigation and water use efficiency, as well as leading to better plant health and colour.
Syngenta technical manager Dr Simon Watson explains: "The deep root zone activity works to prevent hydrophobic areas forming within the soil profile and allows soil particles to hold soil moisture. The unique formulation ensures the water-holding capacity can be retained for up to six weeks, ensuring continuously high levels of performance between applications."
In addition to information on the stand, visitors can learn more from the Wetting Agent Technology for Enhanced Turf Health, Consistency & Playability seminar on Wednesday at 2.40pm.
Troubled by fusarium? Then head for stand C25, where Headland Amenity Products is unveiling a new liquid fungicide. Surpass PRO is a contact fungicide that offers both curative and preventive activity to control fusarium patch and red thread on amenity turf. It contains Iprodione and can be mixed with a range of Headland products to give programmed disease control.
Headland Amenity operations director Mark De Ath says: "Surpass PRO offers course managers a complete solution for the control of fusarium patch and red thread as well as the convenience of working with other plant protection products."
Surpass PRO is approved for knapsack application as well as by boom on golf greens, tees and small areas of fairways. Bowling greens, cricket pitches, lawn tennis courts and professional grounds or stadiums can also be treated, along with commercial and residential lawns.
If you are maintaining fescues, then the latest varieties from British Seed Houses (BSH) - AberCharm and Borluna - should be of interest. AberCharm has been UK-bred for UK conditions. It boasts excellent shoot density and unrivalled summer and winter greenness, offering turf managers the opportunity to improve the look of their greens all year.
Borluna is said to offer every characteristic that is important to create a true putting surface - high shoot density, exceptionally fine leaf and high disease resistance. In addition, it demonstrates resistance to drought conditions.
If you pick up BSH's latest catalogue, you will find a new dedicated section on bent grasses - including the TYEE and 007 "super bents" that prove competitive against Poa annua. Get your copy of the catalogue from stand A29.
To understand more about the relationship between rhizosphere bacterium and plant growth, visitors should attend the BSH seminar on Tuesday at 11am. The speaker this year is Dr Fritz Lord, turf fertiliser product management/research and development specialist from BSH partner COMP Expert of Munster, Germany.
He points out: "Different biotic and abiotic stress factors such as heat, drought, wear and pathogens often have a negative influence on turfgrass. Advanced stress management is becoming more and more important for modern greenkeeping and the focus of maintenance is to promote the plants' strength and vitality to be more tolerant towards these factors.
"Plant growth promoting rhizobacteria (PGR) have beneficial effects on turfgrass growth and the plant's own defence mechanisms." The seminar will deal with some stress factors and the effect of PGR in combination with special nutrients and trace elements.
When: The show runs from Tuesday 24 to Thursday 26 January. It opens at 9am on all three days, closing at 5pm on Tuesday and Wednesday and at 4pm on Thursday. The education programme runs from Sunday 16 to Thursday 20 January.
Where: Harrogate International Centre King's Road, Harrogate, North Yorkshire HG1 5LA.
Admission: Entry to the exhibition is free. Charges apply to workshops and some seminars.
How to get there: By car From the north and south on the A1M: exit A59 to Harrogate. From the M1: to Leeds and then the A61 to Harrogate. There is car parking (charges apply) at the centre. A free park-and-ride service runs from the Great Yorkshire Showground (eastern edge of Harrogate) for all three days of the show.
By train: Main-line services run to Leeds and York. From there, regional railways operate to Harrogate. The centre is approximately 15 minutes' walk from Harrogate railway station. East Coast runs an evening direct train link from London to Harrogate. For further details, see www.eastcoast.co.uk
By air: Leeds/Bradford Airport is 19km from Harrogate. Bus 2 Jet runs a service between the airport and town. Manchester Airport is 90km away.
By sea: North Sea Ferries sailings from Rotterdam/Zeebrugge to Hull (59 miles away).