Smaller firms gain ground

With the six biggest equipment suppliers out of the picture this year, others had a chance to shine at loG Saltex.

As the saying goes: while the cat’s away, the mice will play. Not that I am calling any of the firms at IoG Saltex “mice”.  Far from it. But with the “big six” taking a break from the event this year, the activity of other players in the grounds-care industry was much more noticeable.
At the close of the first day Envirostar — the all-in-one magic box that provides chipper, shredder, blower, vac, generator and power washer in a neat package on wheels — was making a deal that could see the machine sold in Germany, Holland, Belgium and the Czech Republic.
Half-way through the show, Wiedenmann UK had “sold” signs on the majority of its kit and made a formal handover of a 2.1m Terra Spike deep aerator to director Martin Guy of Essex-based MGD. The family-run company undertakes construction, maintenance and operation contracts across the South East and decided to invest in the new aerator for renovation work this autumn.
Preparing for autumn, Wiedenmann launched a new range of machinery aimed at local authorities — including the Combi Clean 2350 sweeper that can be attached to compact tractors or out-front power units using a three-point hitch or A-frame. In its most basic form, the 2350 comprises a counter-rotating, two-piece, 420mm cylindrical sweeping head with a spiral yoke, driven by a centre drive unit. It is available in working widths of 1.1m, 1.3m and 1.5m.
Also designed for autumn clearance work, the new Whisper Twister out-front blower can be used on the back or front of tractors, or on the front of out-front rotary mowers. Featuring one hydraulic cylinder, the blower can be swivelled by 180? to continuously blow leaves in one direction without the need for backing up. In addition, Wiedenmann UK is now supplying snow blades and grit spreaders for the coming winter.
By the end of day two, DJ Turfcare reported more than 50 serious enquiries for its new Surrey Scarifier. Developed specifically with cricket in mind, the machine is solidly built and simple to operate. It is driven by twin belts with a centrifugal clutch and powered by a 5hp Honda engine. Two rotors are available — the standard with bow-tie blades set at 24mm centres and a star-bladed grooming reel based on 12mm centres. Fans between the blades ensure that debris is blown to the back of the collection bag to reduce the risk of blockages and lengthen intervals between emptying.

Grass cutting
Grass cutting machinery has always been a big part of IoG Saltex and this year was no exception. Without John Deere, Ransomes Jacobsen, Sisis or Toro on site, Farm & Garden Machinery attracted attention as it moved into the fairway-mower market with the Shibaura SR525. The five-reel unit, with a choice of seven-, nine- or 11-bladed cylinders, has a 2.5m cutting width and is powered by Shibaura’s own 38hp diesel engine. But it was the machine’s weight that provided the talking point at the show. At 1,280kg, the SR525 is believed to be the lightest in its class. The price has still to be confirmed, but it is expected to be competitive. More golf equipment is likely from this Japanese manufacturer in the future.
As turf managers seek to keep weight off their facilities, the compact tractor continues to dominate the maintenance scene. But that can limit the width of mowing operation. A solution to the “big mower or small tractor” dilemma was unveiled by Trimax. Called the Trailmaster, this attachment adds manoeuvrability and serviceability to the firm’s ProCut and Stealth Series 2 roller mowers.
In simple terms, the Trailmaster converts the normally three-point-linkage mounted mowers into trailed machines, giving wider models zero-turn capability and reducing tractor size requirement.  Maintenance should be a breeze, as the attachment presents the underside of the mower at a comfortable height.
Etesia brought a spate of new developments to this year’s show, including the new 100cm Hydro 100 Diesel — the only 1m, high-lift, ride-on rotary to comply with EC noise regulations. Also worth a second look is the new PRO 53 three-in-one pedestrian rotary with hydraulic drive. It is capable of cutting and collecting, cutting and dropping or mulching. It is interesting to note the research and development activity of this French manufacturer, but then the company has bucked the downturn in mower sales this year with an increase in sales of seven per cent.

Pedestrian models
There were plenty of new pedestrian mowers at the show, notable among them the XR44 hover mower.  A redesign of Allen Power’s 40cm machine, the XR44 is the result of computer modelling for efficient aerodynamics and carries a brand new, 57cc four-stroke engine developed by Honda specifically for the new machine.  
If it is stripes you want, you’ll be interested to know that EP Barrus has a new range of self-adjusting chain-driven cylinder mowers with cutting widths up to 66cm and single height adjustment from 9mm to 30mm. Powered by Honda engines, the mowers have a split steel rear roller, traditional hardwood front roller and six-bladed cutting system.
Unmanned mowing took another leap this year as McMurtry — known for the MAS 01 and 02 robotic mowers — launched the next model in the series.  The MAS 03/33 utilises global positioning system guidance technology to provide a mowing solution said to be both accurate and productive. The new model is configurable between two widths — the 03 has a 1.5m rotary mulcher while the 33 scales the cut to 4.2m by adding two further decks. With cutting speeds of 1.5m per second, this allows mowing up to 2.2ha an hour — all without an operator. Prices start at £29,000 ex VAT.
More zero-turning rider mowers came to IoG Saltex this year, the latest firm to join the army of suppliers being RECO. However, its new zero-turner has a twist. The Typhoon mower, available with 18hp petrol or 20.5hp diesel engine, has a variety of interchangeable decks. The machines can be fitted with mulching, rear-discharge or collecting decks with cutting widths from 110cm to 130cm. The quick change-over system allows the use of flail and scarifying heads. The Typhoon also comes in a collecting model with 300-litre or 700-litre hopper and optional 190cm high-tip.
And there was yet another twist in the zero-turn story this year. The biggest complaint from would-be users of zero-turn mowers is that it takes time to get used to steering with levers. Well, for non-tank drivers there’s now a zero-turner with a steering wheel. Making its European debut, the Gizmow Formula is the only commercial zero-turn mower without levers. It is something of a revolution in engineering design, developed from conventional zero-turns but taking all the best features. Unlike the others, this one is steered by the front wheels.  Distributor Parts Depot of Colne, Lancashire, confirms it has all the high speeds and accuracy you would expect.
Managing director Chris Gibson says: “The Gizmow Formula provides a genuine solution for end-users unwilling to operate stick-steer zero-turns, but still wanting the higher productivity and increased manoeuvrability. For many years we have heard people say ‘if only it had a steering wheel’. Now the market has got what it has been asking for.” Hopefully HW will be testing this one soon.

Turf care equipment
IoG Saltex also provided plenty to see for turf care. Showing how its fine turf greens maintenance cassette system can be fitted to most mowers, Campey Turf Care displayed the TurfWorks system mounted on a veteran Jacobsen 622 mower and also on a modern John Deere 2500E battery-driven greens mower. With nine different cassettes available, TurfWorks allows verti-cutting, brushing, rolling, spiking, scarifying and grooming by utilising the power and efficiency of a ride-on cylinder mower.
It was good to see an interest in seeding machines again. Campey Turf Care is anticipating strong demand for the latest addition to its specialist machinery line-up. The Vredo range of overseeders comes from Holland and features a seed dispensing system with configured seed containers and cam wheels.  This makes the machine compact, a feature aided by the roller’s small diameter. In operation cutter discs make V-shaped slits, from 0.5 to 2.5cm deep, in the turf to receive the seed at an adjustable rate. The rear roller seals the slit. Working widths of 1m, 1.4m, 1.8m and 2.2m are available, with seed box capacities of 100, 140, 180 and 220 litres respectively.
For top-dressing, Lloyds & Co has upped the stakes by introducing SuperSpread. A larger version of the Pequea introduced last year, the SuperSpread is said to be capable of handling almost any material you would want to spread on golf course or amenity turf. It features a conveyor and agitator to keep the load moving smoothly and comes with a heaped capacity of 4.3cu m. The flexible spread/handling system has four distribution types: twin spinner for spreads up to 9m, conveyor off-loader for filling bunkers and beds, a new 180? option for back-filling trenches and a brush for precise application of fine materials.
The choice of aeration machinery got bigger this year with the re-introduction of the AeroKing. Available a few years ago, the AeroKing is known as a simple, effective and economical vertical tine aerator. Now it is available from Yorkshire-based Ryetec. Sales director Mark Harrison says the aerator has “patented features like ‘Auto Heave’, to make it easier to set up, and three-speed gearboxes, even on the smallest models, to suit tractors with PTO speeds of 540-1,000rpm for maximum flexibility and hole spacing options”. HW is planning to test it in the future.
In the absence of John Deere, Kubota and Iseki, it was time for other tractor firms to turn up the volume. New Holland believes its TL-A tractor line-up is poised to make inroads into the ground care and amenity markets. The company offers a huge range of options and adaptations — two- or four-wheel drive, two transmission choices, mid-mounted and rear remotes plus factory-fitted front-loader brackets — that enable the units to be tailored to individual needs. Low fuel consumption is a hallmark of the range that includes 72hp, 82hp, 91hp and 100hp models, and the best-in-industry 600-hour service intervals should help keep operating costs down.
And then there were the red tractors.  Made famous by the British food logo, the Massey Ferguson brand has reached new heights with a torrent of equipment coming from the partnership with MTD.  The Coventry-based company is showing massive commitment to the grounds-care industry as it plans to secure an increased market share.
The greatly expanded product portfolio includes diesel-powered 20hp and 28hp sub-compact tractors with mid rotary-decks, a commercial ride-on zero-turn mower with mulching option and a four-wheel-drive, two-seater utility vehicle with 480kg load capacity rear cargo box. There is also a series of garden/
lawn tractors, a walk-behind rotary mower  and a tiller aimed at the domestic and semi-professional markets. All machines are manufactured by MTD to Massey Ferguson’s design criteria and specifications. They are available from selected Massey (AGCO) dealers in the UK, Ireland and mainland Europe.
Yellow was the theme on JCB’s stand as the firm continues to expand its grounds-care range and its European dealer network. There was the latest Gravemaster, an extended backhoe range and a new 800kg compact digger aimed at garden work. Of particular interest was the new compact tractor range. There are four four-wheel-drive models of 23hp, 27hp, 31hp and 35hp — all with hydrostatic transmission and category 1 three-point linkage — plus a 54hp machine with mechanical transmission, category 2 linkage and comforts including an air-conditioned cab.

Kit for arborists
This year’s show also had plenty of interest for arborists — like the new TW250DH Turbo turntable chipper from Timberwolf. Featuring twin rollers and a 25cm capacity, this unit swivels 360? to provide for safe loading when working on roadsides or in awkward spaces. It is mounted on a steel ring so the chipper is capable of unlimited turning, but the machine is still compact and all parts are easily accessible. It’s another machine for a HW test. Vital towing statistics are 3.7m long by 2.07m wide and the weight comes in at 2,180kg.
With the need to reduce landfill it’s also timely that Timberwolf has brought the TWS425 Turbo professional shredder to market. Designed to handle a range of materials from green waste and tree brash to pallets and packaging, the 45hp, diesel-powered shredder features a large feed roller, throughput of up to three tonnes an hour and quick-change hammer tips. And yes, you change the tips. No need to sharpen or throw away blunt hammers — simply replace the tip. Now there’s a clever idea.
If it is lightweight you want, it is worth taking a look at the new road-tow chipper from GreenMech. The Arborist 15-23 is powered by a 34hp diesel engine, features the company’s Disc-Blade chipping system and has a 150x230mm letterbox-style opening for processing awkward shaped material. It is compact, weighing less than 750kg.
GreenMech is also setting new standards for reduced noise pressure levels.  With the help of acoustic engineers, GreenMech has produced the Hush-Chip system and launched it on the Arborist 15-23 and 19-28 chippers.
GreenMech representative Hazel Honeybone says: “On the Arborist15-23, the standard machine has a noise level reading of 119dB(A). When fitted with the Hush-Chip system it is reduced to 107dB(A) — a massive reduction of 12dB(A).” The noise level of the 19-28 is also reduced by 11dB(A) to 109dB(A). That should have considerable impact in the battle against excessive noise in the outdoor environment.
And the highlight of the show? It is hard to pick just one machine or product. There was so much at this year’s event, three days were not enough to see it all. But many visitors will remember the JCB Dieselmax. Exhibited on its return from Utah, where it broke the diesel land-speed record, the Dieselmax is powered by JCB’s 444 engine. Manufactured at the company’s Dove Valley Park plant in Derbyshire, the JCB444 represents an £80m investment and now powers more than half of all new JCB machines — not that they will be doing 350mph, of course.

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