Early figures showed 7,936 attended the three-day event, which opened at Harrogate International Centre on 19 January. Up by some 30 per cent on last year's attendance, the surge in visitor numbers corresponded with an increase in exhibitors and the opening of a fifth exhibition hall.
Among the mowing equipment to debut was the John Deere 9009A TerrainCut rough mower (left). The latest addition to the firm's A Model mowers, it combines higher-capacity mowing with premium cut quality and after-cut appearance. "With the 9009A, our widest model yet, you can maximise productivity and cut quality from a wide-area mower while having more control over how it performs in the rough," said John Deere turf division manager Chris Meacock.
The 9009A has five 68.6cm (27in) independent rotary mower decks, providing an overall cut of 2.7m (9ft). Rated at a maximum 55hp, the direct injection four-cylinder diesel engine uses integrated cooled exhaust gas recirculation and automatic particulate filter cleaning to meet Stage IIIb emissions regulations.
Making its worldwide debut at BTME, Jacobsen's LF577 has seven cutting units to give a mowing width of 3.53m (11ft 6in) and a prodigious output of 4.5ha per hour at a mowing speed of 12.9kmh. Features include an electronically controlled hydrostatic traction pedal to provide smooth operation through controlled acceleration and deceleration, helping to reduce wheelspin and lower the pedal effort needed by the operator. The unit's SureTrac four-wheel drive parallel-cross series system also provides traction along with climbing ability.
The standard power unit is a Kubota 28kW (37.5hp), three-cylinder, liquid-cooled diesel engine, with the option for a Kubota 36.5kW (48.9hp) four-cylinder diesel if preferred. The LF577 uses 17.8cm (7in) diameter Classic XP cutting units fitted with nine or 11 blade reels. Smaller 12.7cm (5in) diameter sevenor nine-bladed reels and true set adjustment are available.
The Reelmaster 5010-H hybrid fairway mower also launched at the show as Toro distributor Lely - Partners in Turfcare focused on energy efficiency. The 5010-H is the industry's first fairway mower with a true hybrid drive system. Offering operators up to 20 per cent savings in fuel costs, this mower attracted a lot of attention.
Powered by Toro's new patented PowerMatch technology, the drive system couples the power from a 24.8hp diesel engine with a self-charging 48V battery pack to match the power needed for traction and cutting based on mowing conditions.
Lely national sales manager Jeff Anguige explained: "On most fairways, a 24.8hp engine has enough power to complete a job. However, when there are more challenging mowing conditions, such as hilly terrain, more power is needed. That's when the Reelmaster 5010-H sheds the cutting unit load from the engine to the battery pack, allowing more horsepower to be allocated to the traction circuit. If at that point even more power is necessary, the battery pack continues to power the cutting units while also boosting the engine, giving the machine the equivalent of over 40hp."
Crossover utility vehicle
Also attracting attention on the Toro stand, the next-generation mid-duty Workman GTX is a turf and grounds crossover utility vehicle. Available in petrol or electric versions, it boasts 300 configuration options including front and rear attachments, a flatbed and a four-seat option.
"This model is first in the range to offer the option to seat four, working as a personnel carrier as well as materials carrier, and does so without compromising on power, comfort or control," said Anguige. "It is an exceptionally versatile and powerful machine. A host of additional features means the model meets high power and performance standards, while also being incredibly comfortable to drive. While more compact and lightweight, meaning it's kind to turf, power hasn't been substituted for a light tread - this machine has both."
A new integrated cab is a key feature of the Grand L40-II models exhibited by Kubota. Designed specifically for comfort, so maintaining high productivity throughout the day, the cab includes a deluxe seat and incorporates extended legroom as well as big improvements to the control panel for ease of use and heightened performance.
"A machine that offers the operator increased comfort and productivity is what business owners demand to ensure that output is high," Kubota Groundcare business development manager Adrian Langmead pointed out. "The Grand L40-II will deliver this."
Alongside improvements in the cab, fuel efficiency remains a key feature. "In addition to functional and operational environments, our E-TVCS (three vortex combustion system) engine will deliver efficiency and reduced emissions output to further streamline operational costs and improve profitability," Langmead added.
New kit launches for turf maintenance drew the crowds to several stands. The Double A Turf Maintenance System was one such product. Designed and built by the company, it allows greenkeepers and groundsmen to operate a range of attachments from the seat of any utility vehicle, tractor or ride-on mower.
With no requirement for a hydraulic system, the unit incorporates an electrically operated ram that lifts attachments up and down through a patented linkage system. Currently available attachments include core collector, dragmat drag brush and spring tine rake.
With the introduction of sprayer testing, turf managers finding their current sprayers old and outdated took the opportunity to view new applicators at BTME. Gambetti reported much interest in its 200-litre Mini-Demount Skid sprayer with 3.5m or 4m height-adjustable boom.
Full nutrient support
With fertiliser and seed high on turf managers' shopping lists at this time of year, new products commanded a great deal of attention - including a new liquid fertiliser that provides full nutrient support for fine sports turf.
Following the trend for little-and-often spoon-feeding turf, Basfoliar Turf Complete SL from Compo Expert contains the full spectrum of turfgrass nutrients, having an NPK content of 9-4-6 plus essential trace elements and being fortified with magnesium for improved sward colour. It has been formulated to give rapid soil penetration and improved uptake to ensure immediate absorption into the root system of golf greens, tees and football pitches.
The product also contains five per cent Ascophyllum nodosum seaweed extract, adding to the range of beneficial bioactive substances that help combat stresses caused by excessive wear and unfavourable conditions. But it is the addition of block co-polymer technology that enables the liquid fertiliser to rapidly penetrate thick layers of hydrophobic material and so make nutrients readily available within the root zone.
"Basfoliar Turf Complete SL enables greenkeepers, course managers and groundsmen to apply exactly the right balance of nutrients at precise timings," explained Compo Expert UK director Jerry McHoul (pictured). "The ability to spoon-feed fine turf grasses on such a precise and timely basis ensures that nutrients are assimilated as efficiently as possible during the growing season and has the added advantage of ensuring that no granular residues, speckling or colouration differences affect the playing surface."
Headland Amenity also brought a new fertiliser to this year's show. Xtend Fine offers a slow-release source of nitrogen that feeds turf for up to three months. The 1.5mm soluble granules dissolve in water, eliminating pickup, and are safe for areas without irrigation.
Uflexx stabilised nitrogen limits nitrogen loss to the atmosphere. The formulation also features a nitrification inhibitor that slows the conversion of 88 per cent nitrogen into usable forms over a two to three-month period. NPK analysis is 26-3-3. The product is suitable for use on close-mown areas cut at 6mm and above.
Turf managers were given two opportunities to speed up germination thanks to technology introduced at BTME. Rigby Taylor launched Germin-8 grass seed treatment to stimulate and support accelerated germination and emergence through a potent cocktail of speciality penetrating surfactants, nutrients, sugars and mycorrhizae pre-applied to each individual seed.
A 4G seed coat technology was also launched by Johnsons Sports Seed, part of DLF Trifolium. The patented ProNitro seed coating focuses on improved nutrient utilisation during the early stages of plant growth. It contains 15 per cent nitrogen in a combination of both fast-acting and slow-release forms. "By combining the seed and fertiliser, the new seed receives the full benefit and not the surrounding plants - especially important when overseeding into a competitive sward," said DLF amenity sales manager Derek Smith.
Among new seed lines unveiled at BTME, Germinal's Cabrio perennial ryegrass attracted interest for its fineness of leaf. It scored a class-leading 9.2 for fineness in the latest edition of Turfgrass Seed yet promises harder-wearing and more attractive swards. With a mean score of 8.3, Cabrio is expected to dominate Germinal's sales in 2017.
"A mean score of 8.3 should put Cabrio at the top of the main L1 table in 2017," said Germinal amenity sales manager Richard Brown. "The current top-rated variety has a mean score of 8.1 so we are confident that Cabrio will be a popular choice."