Dressing for winter

Manufacturers have developed more efficient spreading and top-dressing kit in time for autumn.

It will soon be autumn, a time for turf renovation and toughening up the grass to withstand another winter. There will be fertilisers and top-dressing material to spread, maybe some soil conditioner or sand and perhaps small quantities of seed or pelleted pesticides. And when winter arrives, the car parks, driveways and paths will need salting. Whether your work is concentrated on turf or general grounds maintenance, there are plenty of materials that need spreading.
There is also plenty of kit to choose from, so whether you are spreading a little NPK on a bowling green or planning to shower a pitch with 80 tonnes of sand next year, you should find something suitable. The good news is that equipment — both fertiliser spreaders and top-dressers — is being developed to be more accurate and quicker.
For seeding, fertilising and applying salt, soil conditioners and granular or pelleted pesticides, model 120 is the latest addition to the range of Spreadmaster broadcast spreaders. A new addition to the existing line-up of push and towed units, the new model is designed to attach to most utility vehicles and has a polyurethane hopper with a 55kg capacity. The frame is finished in stainless steel and the fully enclosed metal gears are guaranteed for life.
The Spreadmaster 120’s key features are said to be easy calibration, the Accuway spread pattern equaliser for accurate and even dispersal from the centre and the Dial-A-Matic spread rate control. Width of spread is 3.6m-7.6m and, with a dry weight of 20kg, this spreader also has the advantage of being easy to lift. The price is £680 ex VAT.
The E+S single-disc spreader is the latest development in a range of application spreaders and road gritters from Amazone. It is likely to be of interest to those needing to apply large quantities of sand to turf. The company has launched an agitator head to provide a spreader for different seasons that can spread granule fertiliser up to 10m.
There are two new-sized E+S spreader base units. The smaller can be fitted with either one or two S130 extensions to allow capacities of 300, 430 and 560 litres, while the larger unit of 750 litres will take one S250 extension to give a maximum capacity of 1,000 litres.
Amazone recognises the harsh conditions its machines must work in and the importance of easy maintenance. The company uses stainless steel for the hopper bottom, shutter slide, setting plate and adjustable spread reducer. All of these components
can be removed for maintenance without using tools.
Shutter design remains the same as on previous E+S models and offers a wide range of spread rates, making the spreader suitable for small and large quantities. The simple spread fan can be swivelled to provide spread to the left, right or both sides of the machine. Optional extras include a hopper cover, electric control of spread width reduction, road lighting, hydraulic disc drive and hydraulic double-acting shutter control.
Spinner technology has been taken on board by most of the top-dresser manufacturers and is proving useful for frequent, light applications. At Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, South Wales, estates and Ryder Cup course development director Jim McKenzie believes there is value in regular dressing with small amounts of material.
“The light application of top-dressings every week is part of a concerted process of steadily improving our three golf courses, helping drainage and maintaining the finer turf surfaces in peak conditions,” he says.
The resort uses two ProPass 180 low-impact top-dressers from Stafford-based Turfmech. The machines were supplied by Celtic Manor’s local dealer, Ted Hopkins.
In action three days out of five in the build-up to the annual Wales Open golf tournament, both ProPass machines are mounted on Toro Workman trucks and are used to treat all the greens. When not preparing for major tournaments, their responsibilities are divided between the resort’s three 18-hole courses to give them a light dressing each week. The application rate is about three tonnes of a triple-screened sand/peat mix per 18 greens.
“I had been looking for an effective spinner-type top-dresser for some time,” says McKenzie. “The ProPass 180 was selected primarily on the recommendation of greenkeeping colleagues, who told me about its ability to spread wet or dry dressings very consistently on a little-but-often basis. To be honest, the results have been even better than we expected. The machine does a very good job indeed.”
According to McKenzie, the ProPass 180 complements regular vibratory rolling and close-mowing of the greens to help bring consistency to the putting surface, producing a very true roll of the ball.
He concludes: “The ability to apply very small quantities of top-dressings accurately over a wide bout width is having a beneficial effect on the condition and wear rate of the mowers’ bottom blades.”
The latest twin spinner on the Turfmech ProPass 180 is intended to deliver improved spreading consistency across the entire bout width, irrespective of whether the machine has been set to spread materials narrow or wide, light or heavy. It also has the advantage of providing a clearly defined edge when applying heavy applications over narrow bout widths, making it easier to match the spread on subsequent passes. Material spread is from 4.5m to 9m.
New spinner applicator technology added to Rink top-dressers means the exact point at which the dressing is delivered on to the twin discs is adjustable to suit the material being applied. It is fitted to the 0.8cu m capacity DS800 trailed and truck-mounted units and to the larger, 1.2cu m capacity DS1200 trailed spreader. The DS Rink range is imported by Charterhouse Turf Machinery of Haslemere in Surrey, along with the Easy Spread hydraulic-powered unit, which matches 28hp tractors and enables 80 tonnes to be spread in a day.
Following the trend for frequent but small applications, Lloyds & Co of Letchworth introduced a new range of top-dressing machines with twin spinners last autumn. Reportedly already proving a success with a number of golf courses, the Pequea GT100 is a low-impact, broadcast-type dresser, available in trailed or truck-mounted versions and suitable for greens, fairways and other turf. Its hopper capacity is 0.75cu m and it has twin spinners that can be angled up or down by 15?, which will give material spread of up to 9m. 
Rate of application from the Pequea unit is achieved by altering the angle of spinners and/or the rotational speed of the spinning discs. Adjusting the speed of the internal feed belt is straightforward, as is opening or closing the tailgate and, if required, changing forward speed of travel. Prices start from £7,995 ex VAT.
As part of its continuous improvement plan, Dakota has further developed its range of Turf Tenders. Imported into the UK by
Macclesfield-based Campey Turf Care
Systems, the machines are used to spread top-dressing materials, sand and seed. With fewer moving parts, the units are said to be easier to use, adjust and maintain.
New to the 410 mounted and trailed units, the 412 and the recently introduced 414 is an electric control box with digital read-outs to give operators precise control over spreader settings. A new rear conveyor converts the 410 into a material handler.
Turf Tender models 420 and 440 have been given a more durable power chute, electrically operated for greater control over material placement. The units are designed to handle wet or dry materials and also feature an interactive calibration programme.
Ultraspreader International has added an electric flow-control valve to its range of top-dressers and spreaders. Using the handheld device in their vehicles, drivers can adjust the spread and turn the belt on and off without stopping the spinners. It fits all existing spreaders and can be added to new machines, which should make life easier for the operator and speed up the task.

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