The Rotoknife slitter aerator is really a root zone management tool for use on golf greens, tees, fairways, winter sports pitches and cricket outfields.
"It is very quick and it's manoeuvrable - it's on the three-point linkage so at the end of the run just up pick it up, swing round and run back done again," says Roberts.
The roller system means the machine can be used on heavily cut-up pitches, leaving the ground flat but aerating at the same time. Having been bought and improved by Imants, the Rotoknife can be used from a smaller tractor. Rotating cassettes provide a choice of disc sizes and spacings.
The Rotoknife is different to other aerators and scarifiers in that it creates a continuous slit though the root zone and it compromises thatch integrity through constant slitting. Discs inoculate the thatch layer with a smear of soil from the lower levels. That begins the process of organic destruction.
It does mean that there can initially be some set-back, with grass tending to yellow along the slits, but Roberts confirms the sward quickly goes dark green as the new roots find the slits.
"It slices through the thatch layer and then you can do scarification passes over it and it removes twice as much material," he explains. As well as quick to use, the Rotoknife is quick to set up and adjust. A control panel on the frame allows discs to be selected.
Working width: 1.8m
Working depth: 10mm using mini-discs or 150mm using larger discs
Disc diameters: 200mm or 450mm
Disc spacing: 5cm, 10cm or 30cm, using 6, 17, 18 or 35 discs
Tractor requirement: 45hp minimum
List price (ex VAT): POA
Contact: Campey Turf Care Systems on 01260 224568
TESTED THIS WEEK
Efco AG50 H60
THE REVIEW PANEL
- Robert Pinion, groundsman, College of West Anglia, Milton Campus, Cambridge
- Alan Mitch, machinery workshop technician, College of West Anglia, Milton Campus, Cambridge
- Tim Jellis, head groundsman, College of West Anglia, Milton Campus, Cambridge
- Mark Ekin, programme area manager (horticulture, agriculture and countryside), College of West Anglia, Milton Campus, Cambridge
- Dave Roberts, grounds manager, Charterhouse School, Surrey
The tramp of feet and the weight of maintenance equipment is enough to cause compaction in most soils. With the air squeezed out and water unable to penetrate, the roots suffer first and then the effect is seen above ground.
Aeration and scarification are essential. We look at two aerators - the Rotoknife at Charterhouse School in Surrey and the Verti-Drain 7621 in a waterlogged part of Milton Campus near Cambridge.
At Milton, we also try out two pedestrian scarifiers and a unit that mounts to an Etesia ride-on mower. How will they cope when ground conditions are wet and sticky?