Saltex moved to a new home last year — inside, to the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. No one really knew what to expect, but by the end of the show most visitors and exhibitors would agree that Saltex had been reborn. It had a new feel, a new dynamism and it was a success. More than 8,000 visitors attended to see the latest machinery and products, to listen to seminars and to network.
The show is the UK’s national event for grounds care, sports turf, amenities, estates and green-space management. This is the 71st staging of Saltex and this year could be more important than ever before because we still have a major unknown — no one really knows what impact leaving the EU will have on our industry. But one thing is sure — knowledge is growth and those who are better at their business will have an advantage.
Saltex — Sports Amenities Landscaping Trade Exhibition
Organiser Institute of Groundsmanship
Where National Exhibition Centre, Birmingham B40 1NT
When 2 November (9am-5pm) and 3 November (9am-4pm)
Be the best at your job
So, if your job is to manage and maintain natural, hybrid or artificial sports pitches or racecourses, if you are a professional groundsman, greenkeeper or gardener, if you work in a landscaped or urban space or a park, this is your show. It gives you the opportunity to inspect the latest kit, play equipment, fertilisers, seeds and top dressings. It also gives you a chance to learn, from seminars and clinic sessions, so you can be the best at your job and hold the upper hand.
The Learning Live programme is set to explore the impact and uncertainties of leaving the EU. An industry-leading line-up of speakers will focus on key issues. Amenity Forum chairman Professor John Moverley is a panel member looking at the implications for weed, pest and disease control. A "Question Time" session will cover the all-important details of chemical controls and other amenity topics.
In all, Saltex has four seminar theatres, including one hosted by talkSPORT radio presenter Mark Saggers. Speakers will include FA group head of grounds and estates for St George’s Park Alan Ferguson and Tottenham Hotspur FC head of playing surfaces and estates Darren Baldwin. From a rugby perspective there will be Keith Kent and Ian Ayling from Twickenham Stadium while tennis will be covered by Wimbledon’s Neil Stubley.
Park keepers, landscapers, contractors and horticulturists will find lots going on in Theatre 1. Here the talk will be about training, the Sustainable Use Directive, policy planning for playgrounds and boosting the quality of amenity services. Sports turf and playing surfaces will be hot topics in Theatre 3. Head greenkeeper of the PGA Centenary Golf Course at Gleneagles, Steve Chappell, will be one speaker, while others will cover aspects of racecourses and school pitches. Here too will be the Rigby Taylor and Top Green sponsored Young Groundsmen’s conference.
Theatre 4 will take a more scientific approach. If you want to know about the latest advances in stadium management, whether synthetic turf is a threat to groundsmanship and whether rubber crumb does pose a health risk, you should be there.
Problem soil profiles
In the IoG Hub each day between 11am and 1pm, Pathology & Soil Science Live will be hosted by turf consultant Alex Vickers and Turf Disease Centre managing director Kate Entwistle. "This event will be particularly useful for visitors who may have any soil profiles that are causing problems or concerns," says Vickers. "They can simply pop in to discuss them or even bring in a core sample or good photograph."
Ask the Experts will be making a return but a new feature this year will be the Saltex College Cup. Sponsored by Ransomes, this is a national student-led sports turf challenge — an academic test of turf management knowledge for students enrolled on relevant courses. Teams of four will embark on a two-hour competition consisting of paper-based questions and then write a more in-depth answer to a case study.
There is so much going on at this year’s Saltex. Some of the leading company names in the industry — Charterhouse and Rigby Taylor among them — will stage displays of familiar and new kit and products. Some is still at the prototype stage but will help you prepare for the future. Read on for our full preview of some of the not-to-be-missed machinery and products.
MACHINERY AND PRODUCTS
Saltex — there’s even more to see this year. Following the success of last year’s show, many companies are taking the opportunity to increase the size of their displays and include even more machinery and products for visitors to view.
One such firm pulling out all the stops is Reesink Turfcare, formerly known as Lely Turfcare. Latest kit, firm favourites and brand new product launches — under wraps for now — will feature on the stand and you will find Toro turf care machinery, Toro irrigation controllers and sprinklers, Otterbine pond and lake aeration systems and TYM compact tractors in the line-up.
"Historically we have alternated between a full line-up and a smaller one at Saltex, but the show last year was really successful so we have decided to return with our biggest line-up yet," says Reesink marketing manager Holly Jones. "It’s been a few years since Toro’s irrigation and Otterbine products have been at Saltex, but we have seen a rise in interest from our ground care customers in these areas and it’s exciting to have representation from all our brands at the show."
A stand-on mower that allows operators to work productively in tight awkward spaces such as fenced-off gated areas, cemeteries, grass verges and residential plots will be introduced by Henry Sheach. The compact 36in Bob-Cat QuickCat offers rear discharge and mulching options as well as side discharge. It has two forward speeds, one to transport the machine at up to 11mph and one up to 9mph for mowing. Cutting heights range from 1.5in to 4.5in.
Weighing 351kg and due to its compact design, this commercial mower also takes up less space on trailers and in storage. Operator comfort is provided by a wide-area rider pad and anti-vibration, anti-slip platform. Power comes from a 19hp Kawasaki engine and the machine is backed by a six-year or 2,750-hour commercial warranty, reflecting the unit’s durability and build quality.For wider areas, commercial operators should view the latest addition to the Ransomes MP Series. The MP653 XC, the world’s first wide-area rotary with a 4.27m cutting width, increases productivity by up to 25 per cent — a hectare more per hour — over traditional 3.4m mowers.
Designed and manufactured at Ransomes Jacobsen’s European headquarters in Ipswich, the MP Series targets the municipal sector and provides multiple options from a single-design platform.
Following its launch of a 30in version of its INFiNiSystem, Advanced Turf Technology (ATT) will be introducing an even bigger version. The INFiNiSystem 34 is intended to bring new performance to sports turf presentation, the latest system offering more functionality than other wide pitch mowers.
It retains the floating head mechanism to give a precision cut and panelling while reducing overall ground pressure — an advantage on semi-synthetic pitches such as Desso Grassmaster — without affecting striping. The new model also gives the flexibility of being able to change between hybrid power and pure battery, offering a cost-effective alternative that can largely pay for itself through fuel savings.
Also investing in a bigger stand at Saltex this year, ATT will be showing the TMSystem of 10 SMART cassettes designed to enable various different maintenance activities — aeration, brushing, dethatching, scarifying, top dressing, grooming, levelling and mowing — by unlocking the potential of John Deere, Toro or Jacobsen fairway or triple greens mowers.
Bedford-based and family-run business ICB Plant & Machinery has been granted sole distributor rights to market Japanese Canycom heavy-duty, ride-on, four-wheel drive and tracked flail brushcutters in the UK and Ireland. The company will be at Saltex to show off the hand-built machines, which include cutting blades manufactured from heavy-duty katana samurai sword steel.
The machines are shaft-driven, transferring all the power from the Subaru engines to the cutting blades and enabling them to cut long, tall vegetation and even branches up to 36mm thick. Canycom brushcutters are said to be capable of climbing inclines of up to 25 per cent and have a stability angle of 30 per cent.
"We are delighted to be the sole importer and distributor of these quality Japanese-made mowers," says ICB managing director Ian Staniforth. "Their ability to destroy anything that passes under the cutter blades is incredible. Their shaft drive makes them so much more destructive. The brushcutter videos on YouTube demonstrate their staggering capabilities."
John Deere: 2036R has a wider footprint, longer wheelbase and greater stability - image: © Deere & Co
New tractors will be introduced by John Deere in a joint display with regional dealers Farol, Henton & Chattell and Tallis Amos Group. Designed from the ground up, the 26hp 2026R will operate in confined spaces, while the 36hp 2036R has a wider footprint and longer wheelbase combined with increased tractor weight for better stability.
Both models have a tiltable steering wheel and cruise control for operator comfort, the 2036R also benefiting from an air suspension seat and CommandCut mower deck lift system that provides cutting height adjustment at the turn of a dial and nudge of a lever. There is a choice of open station or cab for both models.
"Our customers are looking for efficient, durable and easy-to-use solutions that allow them to do more work in less time with less effort," says John Deere product marketing manager (compact utility tractors) Jared Lowe. "When designing the new 2R Series models, we focused on improving machine stability, comfort and implement attachability to meet those needs."
Both models have TwinTouch foot controls and an eThrottle to allow the machine to automatically increase or decrease engine speed as required, while standard cruise control gives consistent ground speed. Fully independent power take-offs (PTOs) allow front-, mid- and rear-mounted implements.
It has been a busy year for Branson Tractors UK. Since appointing its first dealer, Fentons of Bourne, at last year’s show it has made a further 28 dealer appointments throughout the UK. Now, celebrating its first birthday, Branson will return to Saltex to exhibit its latest grounds care machine — the 60hp 6225Ch.
Built for hard work and based on the 25 series platform, this low-weight, high-horsepower machine features the new ADS hydrostatic drive system for smooth power control, a range of tyres and an impressive 1,500kg lift capacity on the linkage. Like its smaller brothers, the 6225Ch benefits from 250-hour service intervals and a two-year warranty.
Official machinery supplier to the FA’s Pitch Improvement Programme, Charterhouse Turf Machinery will be showcasing equipment for both natural and artificial sports surfaces. On view for the first time will be the Multi-sport combination implement tool with slitter, rake, roller and brush for one-pass operations. Its working width is 1.8m and, with a total weight of 325kg, the tools can be independently adjusted for pressure applied to the surface.
Also on the Charterhouse stand will be the PTO-driven Graden Swing Wing and the Graden GBS 1200 1.2m straight reeled scarifier for tractors of 20hp-plus.Dennis and Sisis will be sharing a stand to talk about mowing, aeration and scarification. Flying the flag for Dennis will be the G860 walk-behind mower with a range of 11 interchangeable cassettes to turn the power unit into a scarifier, verticutter, brush, spiker, slitter or mower. The 34in G34D, launched last year, will again be displayed as a mower for short or longer-length grasses while the Razor Ultra 560 should appeal to those tending greens, tees and cricket pitches.
For aeration, the Javelin Aer-Aid 1500 tractor-mounted vertical action air-injection aerator from Sisis is said to be proving popular. It injects air directly into the root zone, speeding up the aeration process and moving air throughout the root zone. The Aer-Aid also provides the opportunity to alternate tines for other operations such as hollow coring prior to top dressing. If it is a deep slitter you are looking for, be sure to see the pedestrian Autoslit and tractor-mounted Multislit on the same stand.
Maintaining artificial surfaces still raises many questions. The team on the Sisis stand will be happy to show you the Osca tractor-mounted powered oscillating brush and the Quadraplay single-pass maintenance system to help with daily maintenance programmes.
Now established with a UK dealer network, Vanmac will be exhibiting products from its Trilo brand. This includes the S3 vacuum sweeper for clearing grounds and sports fields, SU60 vacuum unit to work in tight spaces and Trilo B7 blower with a capacity of 340cu m per minute.
Having constructed and renovated a number of pitches, MJ Abbot will be ready to talk shop about its latest projects and help visitors with future plans of action. Included in its work this year, the company has constructed and renovated SIS Grass hybrid-turf pitches at a number of top sports facilities and has completed major projects at St George’s Park, Chelsea FC’s Cobham training ground and Hull City FC, where eight SIS Grass pitches have been installed.
Yet another contract saw MJ Abbot working at Paris St Germain FC’s training centre and the firm has also been involved with drainage work for Somerset CCC’s ground in Taunton, landscaping at the American Battle Monuments Commission cemetery in Woking and drainage and irrigation work at golf clubs such as Wentworth and Adare Manor.
Drainage will also be a theme on Rigby Taylor’s stand, where the company will introduce a low-invasive approach to sports ditch drainage. Already shown to be highly effective, the Energy-Passive Ground-Water Recharge Pump system distributes water throughout the soil profile without the need for mains drains.
Seen in concept mode last year, the Intelligent One automatic GPS-controlled line marker will now come to Saltex in a tried-and-tested version. The company will also be introducing two new line-marking paints.
MJ Abbott: this year’s projects have included work at Chelsea FC’s training ground - image: MJ Abbott
Cobra is relatively new to the industry, Henton & Chattell having launched the brand in 2014, but has grown to become the UK’s largest range of powered lawnmowers with more than 50 models — petrol, electric, lithium-ion, rear roller, push, self-propelled and professional. More will be added at Saltex, including ranges of 24V and 40V lithium-ion mowers. A petrol cultivator will also be making a first appearance at the show.
Henton & Chattell sees Saltex as a prime opportunity to launch new Cobra products to the dealer network but the stand will also house Billy Goat Industries products. Visitors can see the line-up of vacuums and blowers designed for those with large areas of grounds to clear. A further section will be devoted to Briggs & Stratton Power Products, with pressure washers and generators on display.
GroundsCare Products will come to Saltex in a celebratory mood. After a successful trial lasting several months, nationwide rental firm Brandon Hire has purchased TurfTeq Power Rakes, Power Brooms and Rough-cut Mowers.
Initially the units will be based at six locations covering an area from north-west England and north Wales to the south coast of England.Driving battery technology with its advanced lithium-ion batteries over the past decade, Makita will attend Saltex to display its cordless tools, including those powered by the company’s twin-battery system. This utilises two 18V li-ion batteries in combination to deliver 36V power.
Makita’s 18V lithium-ion battery has become the largest power source in the history of cordless products, powering the most extensive range of power tools — more than 100 — on the market. The 18V battery platform can be used for the construction and grounds care ranges, including hedge and grass trimmers, mowers, chainsaws and blowers, making it an option to purchase the "body only" version of the tool should you already have the battery.
Using battery powered grounds care machines means emissions are zero and the risk of ground contamination from spills is removed. Many tools offer a considerable reduction in vibration, allowing users to work all day long.
Cordless tools are also quieter, giving the opportunity to power through tasks on noise-sensitive sites. But should you prefer petrol, Makita will also show a range of products powered by the MM4 engine — developed to deliver more horsepower, more torque and greater reliability than the same capacity two-stroke motor while reducing exhaust emissions, cutting fuel consumption, lowering noise and limiting vibration.
High-torque brushcutters will feature on the Echo stand. Manufactured by the Japanese Yamaniko Corporation, these machines have a 1:2 gear reduction ratio that delivers up to 50 per cent more torque at the cutting head than previous models. As the march of battery power continues, Echo will launch its range of lithium-ion 50V battery products, all featuring advanced motor control to maintain high performance while reducing energy consumption and thus increasing intervals between charging. Included in the range so far are a power blower, hedge trimmer and brushcutter, but more will surely follow.
Etesia UK will also be launching new battery products. In the Pellenc brand, the Cleanion is a pedestrian battery powered brush designed to remove debris from natural or artificial grass and hard surfaces. Self-driven, the brush is powered by the ULiB battery seen on the rest of the company’s tools. It has a large working width, long operating time and is adjustable for speed and direction, while brushing pressure is displayed on an LCD screen. Attachments include a snow plough.
New-generation handheld blower Airion 2 and Pellenc’s Rasion Smart and Rasion Basic battery pedestrian mowers will also be introduced at the show. All Pellenc batteries and tools, including the hedge cutter, chainsaw, pole saw and pruning shears to be displayed at the show, are backed by a category-leading three-year commercial warranty.
Weed removal will also be highlighted by Etesia UK as it launches the 10-brush MBR 124 attachment for use on its Hydro 124 mowing machines. "If you have weeds, algae or moss on your surfaces, then preventive is preferable and regular sweeping will help achieve this," says general manager Les Malin. "The 10-brush MBR 124 gives users an environmentally friendly alternative to using harmful chemicals."
Suitable for use on block paving and Tarmac, the 500mm-diameter brushes have a 150mm working width and are adjustable for height and angle to tackle stubborn infestations. The wire-brush attachment is compatible with the Hydro 124 DN and Hydro 124 DX machines. Other accessories include mechanical spreader, sprayer, blower, sweepers and side brush, all aimed at increasing versatility for Hydro users.
There will be a serious side and a fun side to Complete Weed Control’s stand. The UK’s largest weed-control contractor is ready to inform visitors about the benefits of its services, including Complete Grounds Maintenance.
Launched at last year’s show, it encompasses grass cutting, weed and moss control, shrub pruning, winter clearance, litter picking and installation of rubber crumb surfacing around trees. The young business has already worked for local authorities as well as on industrial premises, forestry sites and sporting venues.
But should you be looking for a little light entertainment to break up your visit to Saltex, magician and mind reader Robert Fox will be performing on the Complete Weed Control stand, changing £5 notes into £50 notes, bending forks, removing people’s watches and doing tricks with cards and coins.
Aiming to add to the wide range of UK and international customers that it has signed up since first exhibiting at Saltex in 2004, Stem Injection Systems (SIS) will return again to demonstrate its patented stem-injection equipment used in invasive-plant treatment programmes. One long-standing customer is Ipswich Borough Council. The local authority bought its first system at Saltex in 2007 and a second shortly after.
"Even before we met SIS we had begun to recognise that traditional treatment methods such as foliar spraying and dig-and-dump were no longer the most effective or economically viable," says Ipswich Borough Council parks manager and area supervisor Nick Wilcox. "As a progressive council we actively went in search of a stem-injection alternative and that chance meeting with SIS at Saltex 2007 changed our treatment programmes forever."
With the ability to deliver small quantities of herbicide to a highly localised spot, the stem-injection system is now used by local authorities, landscapers, river management teams and agencies such as the National Trust, Forestry Commission and Wildlife Trusts.
On the same stand, Cityscape Academy will be promoting its range of bespoke training courses and packages for the landscape, amenity and construction sectors. These include an Invasive & Injurious Weeds Skills course from BASIS as well as the City & Guilds PA61NJ qualification, which is now mandatory for any qualified herbicide operatives using stem-injection equipment.
Turf nutrition is high on the agenda these days as managers seek to strengthen grass plants and ward off the diseases for which we no longer have chemical controls. To this end, Headland Amenity will attend Saltex with a range of products including new TeMag Elite and Terafirm soil penetrant, both likely to be of interest as we head towards winter.
TeMag Elite is a water-soluble iron and micronutrient package for strengthening turf over the autumn and winter. It contains Headland’s Elevate Fe and in trials has been shown to minimise the effect of turf pathogens such as Microdochium nivale and Sclerotonia homeocarpa (dollar spot). TeMag Elite also contains Harpin Protein, a plant elicitor that stimulates the plant’s natural defence mechanisms to aid growth through periods of stress, disease and/or nematode damage. It is fully tank mixable with most liquid- and water-soluble fertilisers, biostimulants and pesticides, including many available fungicides.
Maintaining a healthy soil profile through the use of self-sustaining cultivars will be one of the themes on Germinal’s stand. AberSustain is a self-sustaining grass seed mixture suited to open parkland areas, domestic lawns, roadside verges and green roofs. It features five UK-bred varieties to create a sward that is tolerant of low-nutrient and drought conditions and can actively bind and improve soil structure.
Included in AberSustain is AberAce white clover. With high stolon density, this clover is able to fix 150kg of nitrogen per hectare per year and so eliminates the need for additional fertiliser applications in amenity areas experiencing low- to medium-intensity usage. By putting down extensive roots, AberAce also binds the soil and, importantly, increases porosity while decreasing soil bulk density. This in turn can improve the movement of nutrients within the profile, thereby enhancing overall sward health.
AberNile perennial ryegrass, with its "stay green" quality, is also deep-rooting and drought-tolerant and is included in the mix to maintain a good visual appearance throughout the year. Sheep’s fescue AberFleece, the foundation of AberSustain mixture, exhibits short vegetative growth that does not exceed 140mm when left uncut and has a dark-green year-round colour as well as tolerance to low-nutrient and drought conditions.
The other two cultivars in the mixture are AberCharm slender creeping red fescue to help bind the sward together and AberRoyal browntop bent for binding characteristics and good visual appearance.
Germinal is also studying the efficiency of soil nutrient programmes and will be challenging Saltex visitors to examine the nitrogen efficiency of its current programmes and reconsider fertiliser choice — and it sounds as though there is much to be learned and discussed.
"The key remit for any amenity nutrient plan is to ensure that the fertiliser used provides a consistent and long-lasting supply of readily available nutrients to the root zone with the minimum of losses," says Germinal amenity sales manager Richard Brown. "While an increasing number of groundsmen and fine-turf managers have moved away from conventional quick-release fertiliser in favour of more technologically advanced slow-release products, it would be wrong to assume that all slow-release fertilisers are equal."
Brown warns that, at best, the slow-release fraction in methylene urea-based fertilisers actually only contains around two-thirds of "true" slow-release nitrogen, while many contain less than half. "Put simply," he explains, "it means that the remaining nitrogen in these products is either quick-release and therefore of no more value than standard fertiliser or is so insoluble that it may take years to be released.
"In contrast, fertilisers that provide nitrogen in the form of isobutylidene diurea have an ‘activity index’ or efficiency rating of around 96 per cent, meaning that almost all of the N supplied will be slowly and steadily released into a form that can be taken up by the sward for a period of around 12 weeks." Visit the stand to find out more about benefits and products.
More fertiliser news can be found on the Sherriff Amenity stand, where the company will be launching its E2 Pro liquid fertiliser range. Based on advanced formulation technology that provides rapid leaf penetration, E2 Pro is intended to quickly relieve symptoms of nutrient deficiency. It is also suited to "spoon feeding" at the beginning and end of the season.
The range includes six products to ensure that every turf requirement is met throughout the year. They can be tank mixed with approved partner products and can survive long-term storage.
Those visitors experiencing unwanted pests in their turf — especially leatherjackets and chafer grubs — will be interested in Sherriff Amenity’s new Nemaflo. A carrier for use in conjunction with beneficial nematodes, such as Sportnem H and Sportnem T, Nemaflo is intended as an aid to the movement of insect-parasitic or entomopathogenic nematodes, moving them into the soil profile to better target the pest.
As the name suggests, VitalnovaStressbuster is a product to precondition turf against stress and generate quick recovery. In liquid form and with macronutrients, micronutrients, wetting agents, biostimulants and amino acids, it is just one of ICL’s new products that should draw the attention of turf managers. A second is Vitalnova SILK, a liquid fertiliser that has high levels of potassium silicate to rapidly increase leaf and stem strength as well as helping to produce a cleaner cut.
Also in the turf department and new from ICL is Vitalnova Boost, a liquid fertiliser designed to enhance turf quality and support a healthy plant, especially to stimulate growth in early summer or maintain quality during periods of stress. It can be tank mixed with Primo Maxx and other liquid- and water-soluble products from the ICL range.
ICL will also have more new products for landscapers, including Landscaper Pro performance grass seed. Containing perennial ryegrass and fescue, the mix is designed to produce a hard-wearing and fine blade surface from rapid germination. Two landscaper fertilisers to be launched at the show are Pro Spring & Summer and Pro Autumn & Winter, both demonstrating controlled-release technology, while for maintenance ICL is introducing Landscaper Pro Feed, Weed & Moss Killer. There will also be a chance to inspect the new ICL Accupro 1000 spreader.
Pitchmark: warranty extended to three years
A three-year warranty will now apply to the Eco spray markers and Classic wheel-to-wheel markers from paint and equipment supplier Pitchmark.
Speaking before Saltex, managing director Mark Rodman said: "Having used line markers for over 30 years as a groundsman, I know the importance of being able to rely on the machine working out in the cold and wet on the morning of an important fixture.
"We’ve always had complete confidence in the quality of our materials and craftsman ship as well as the reliability of our markers. Extending the warranty to three years is a reflection of that and will add to the Pitchmark customer experience."
Pitchmark line markers are built in the UK. The company’s range of line-marking paints is offered with a one-year warranty, as opposed to the standard six months offered by other paint manufacturers.
Arborist 200 and ArbTrak 200 chippers
The Arborist 200 is the newest introduction to GreenMech’s traditional in-line format road-tow chipper range. As big brother to the established Arborist 150, this version is said to pick up where the 150 leaves off. Its tracked counterpart, the ArbTrak 200, has 274mm of ground clearance to access difficult-to-reach sites and travel over rough terrain.
Both units are fitted with a 120x840mm infeed chute, designed to help bush brash reduction, leading to a 200x280mm letterbox-style infeed throat. The twin horizontal hydraulic rollers, powered by a 45hp Kubota turbo diesel engine, crush woody material with minimal lateral movement. Both units feature bottom control bars, folding tables, new touch controls and are shown off in the new green-and-grey livery.
As standard, and with all GreenMech chippers, the Arborist 200 and ArbTrak 200 come fitted with the company’s patented Disc-Blade system, which gives up to 150 hours of chipping before resharpening is required.