As a local authority we provide a large number of sports facilities across a wide area. Tight budgets and a small workforce have meant the pitches have not been aerated for several years (if ever). If we were to invest in aeration equipment, what equipment would do the job quickly but still help to improve the pitches?

Finances mean that many local authorities are unable to carry out the turf maintenance practices they would like. Aeration, along with top-dressing and overseeding, is a dream for many. Mowing is the norm. But time and play take their toll. Compaction leads to problems with drainage and poor root growth, resulting in missed revenue.

But any aeration is better than none. If the pitches could be spiked or slit a few times throughout the year, the benefits for the sward could be huge.

Deep aeration - where the tines are punched vertically into the ground - is slow, so for speed you should consider equipment that works on a drum.

An example is the Sisis Maxislit. This creates slits down to 120mm quickly, depending on conditions. The Maxislit, with a working width of 1.6m, takes about 45 minutes to aerate a soccer pitch. Current price for the Maxislit is £2,295. Bigger and faster is the Megaslit, with a 2.18m working width. It covers a pitch in 40 minutes, conditions permitting, and costs £2,795 ex VAT.

Carrier Turf 425, available in the UK from Campey Turf Care of Macclesfield, has a massive 4.25m working width, yet folds to 2.5m for transport. It is currently priced at £14,688 ex VAT.

- Sally Drury has reported for HW and its forerunner GC&HTJ for 25 years, and has spent more than four years testing machinery for HW and What Kit? The advice in this helpline is independent.

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