Firmly established on the calendar for greenkeepers, turf managers and grounds-care professionals, Harrogate Week kicks off on 18 January with the British & International Golf Greenkeepers' Association's (BIGGA's) Continue to Learn programme and the organisation's AGM. Then BTME (BIGGA Turf Management Exhibition) opens its doors on 20 January for three days.
Why go? As finances are put under pressure, a trip to Harrogate may just seem like another expense but actually the economic downturn gives Harrogate Week greater relevance. Perhaps more than ever, the programme of seminars and workshops, hundreds of displays of kit and products, plus the opportunity to network with people in similar situations to yourself, is what is needed to help you find solutions to your problems.
Throughout the event there are seminars on topics as wide ranging as coping with stress, machinery maintenance, turf nutrition and hand-arm vibration. Vibration white finger is the most commonly prescribed disease under the Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit scheme and with more than a million people still experiencing levels of vibration that are above the exposure limit level, the hand-arm vibration seminar is a must for anyone needing to understand more. Sponsored by Echo UK, the seminar will be delivered by leading independent vibration assessor Fivesquared - a division of Earlsmere ID Systems.
"Many employers have still not done all they can to cut vibration exposure to as low as is reasonably practicable, and vibration information presented by some manufacturers can't be used for risk assessment as it has not been tested under load or indeed in working conditions," says marketing manager Sue Lewis of Echo importer Countax.
At the exhibition Echo is launching two new emissions-compliant chainsaws at BTME. The new CS-310ES is a 30.5cc saw weighing just 4kg and with declared vibration levels of 6.9m/s2 on the rear handle. The CS-600 operates on a torque-efficient 59.8cc Echo engine and is supplied with 45mm bar for professional use. It registers 6.1m/s2 on the rear handle.
Soil aeration features strongly as companies rush to launch new products and announce deals aimed at improving the oxygen content of the rootzone.New to the range of Verti-Drain deep-tine aerators from Charterhouse Turf Machinery is the 2.1m-wide 7621, while the US-built range of Aeravator decompactors is exhibited under the banner of JSM Distribution.
With some financial analysts predicting an upturn in the UK economy in the second half of 2009, JSM Distribution is launching a finance package to enable end users to invest in aeration kit now and defer the payment until September. The scheme allows for immediate delivery of the Soil Reliever deep tine aerator by signing a deferred-payment agreement and only paying the relevant VAT value as a deposit. The full purchase price of the equipment (ex VAT) does not then fall due until autumn, interest free.
"We all understand the need and benefits of regular and deep aeration on all sports turf," says sales manager David Timms. "We want to provide a finance tool that allows potential customers to get on with the important aeration work while providing flexibility for budgets and income during this difficult period."
The Soil Reliever range features models from 1.2m to 2m and ranging in price from £11,625 to £19,995. Re-seeding greens and tees is a cost effective way of rejuvenating the sward, while also allowing a quick return to play. BTME is the place to see the latest in seeding equipment.
On display is Charterhouse's Speed Seed range with individually cast spiker-rings giving random dispersal of seeds without leaving drill lines. The feed system handles all types of seeds, including bents, with quick-change feed gears making for easy rate adjustment. The compact 1.2m-wide version is just the job for re-seeding greens.
A US-built seeding machine, the TurfSaver, comes under the spotlight on DJ Turfcare's exhibit as the company explains how to dethatch and overseed in one pass. The TurfSaver has a 22' (56cm) working width and comes fitted with blades to verti-cut.
Mower developments, especially in terms of improved performance and productivity, can be found at BTME. Kyoeisha, exhibiting Baroness-branded equipment on its stand, is one company planning to launch new machines at the show, including a ride-on greens mower. Baroness products benefit from a three-year warranty.
The importance of sharp mower blades is indisputable. Hunter Grinders is demonstrating the benefits of computer software advances for its Jupiter Series 5 ATI Auto-indexer. New features include an information screen, more accurate positioning of traverse through DC braking, adjustable spin speed and adjustable traverse speed for sparking out of the bottom blades.
Keeping up-to-date with the strict environmental legislation in relation to the golf industry is now an essential part of a greenkeeper's job. The seminar Environmental Legislation Compliance Through Best Practice is already sold out but companies attending BTME can also help with equipment and advice, and ensure you stay the right side of the law.
In response to stricter anti-pollution regulations and increased environmental inspections, Course Care is introducing the ClearWater II washpad water-recycling system at BTME. With fuel security a concern for many, Course Care is also offering new tanks with enhanced security features.
After a wet summer last year, drainage will be on the minds of many greenkeepers and groundsmen. Visitors to Harrogate Week can learn the theory, practice and realities relating to drainage issues in the workshop session on 18 January, while those attending the exhibition can find out about the work undertaken by contractors.
In 2008 Speedcut undertook a range of sportsturf projects, many of which will be illustrated on the contractor's stand. Major fairway drainage, along with the reshaping of bunkers, at Foxhills Golf Club & Resort and the construction of three water storage tanks at Tandridge Golf Club are just two of Speedcut's most recent schemes.
Drainage equipment is on display on AFT Trenchers' stand, including the wheeled Sandbander sand-slit installer. Now complete with support wheels and low- impact tyres, this kit can access greens and fine-turf areas - even when fully loaded. The Sandbander works with compact tractors of 20hp and gives slits of 25mm or 50mm wide, to a depth of 250mm. The machine, which firmly consolidates the infill to the full depth, can also be used to install Lytag or gravel.
BTME also brings the latest news from seed breeders. Barenbrug and British Seed Houses promise to unveil the latest cultivars at BTME and share knowledge and expertise to enable greenkeepers to gain the most from breeding programmes.
Barenbrug has no less than 10 new cultivars in the 2009 BAR range. Highlights include four new fescues for fine and medium-fine turf, with Viktorka and Bargreen II noted for shoot density and disease tolerance, Barmalia showing rapid establishment and Hardtop being salt tolerant.
Also introduced at Harrogate is the fine-leafed tall fescue Barleduc, the speedily establishing smooth-stalked meadow-grass Bariris and very fine-leafed Barhelene, plus two hardwearing perennial ryegrasses, Bardorado and Barillion.
Keen to share knowledge and expertise with BTME visitors, the British Seed Houses team is hosting a workshop on the subject of introducing velvet bents to golf courses. Taking place on 24 January, the workshop will highlight the latest news and advice on this cost-effective cultivar already used to good effect on greens in Scandinavia.
Highlighted on the company's stand is the A20 Ryesport mix - the seed choice of a number of high-profile venues. Suitable for all sports pitches, the four-rye blend comprises Gallius, Carnac, Vesuvius and Lucius perennial ryegrasses and is particularly useful overseeding. A20 Ryesport offers quick establishment, hard-wearing characteristics and good winter colour.
Nutrition comes under the spotlight throughout Harrogate Week, with several seminars looking at the latest research and a number of exhibitors launching new products. Getting double action for your money, SeaComplex 4-3-4 is a new organic soil amendment designed to work as both a fertiliser and a biostimulant by supplying nutrients to the plants and also encouraging soil microflora.
Launched at BTME by Headland Amenity, the new product is formulated from cold extract seaweed meal, humic acid, aerobically composted cow manure and micronutrients. SeaComplex is in mini-granule form, making it easy to apply and ensuring rapid breakdown on contact with moisture.
It can be used either following aeration or during establishment and can be used on all fine turf, including golf and bowling greens.
When: Tuesday 20 January to Thursday 22 January. The show opens at 9am on all three days, closing at 5pm on Tuesday and Wednesday and at 4pm on the Thursday.
The Education Programme runs from Sunday to Thursday. For details, see www.harrogateweek.org.uk.
Where: Harrogate International Centre
Admission: Admission to the exhibition is free. Charges apply to workshops and some seminars. Many seminars held during the show are free of charge.
How to get there
From the North and South on A1M: exit A59 to Harrogate.
From M1: to Leeds and then A61 to Harrogate.
There is parking (charges apply) at Harrogate International Centre. A free park-and-ride service runs from the Great Yorkshire Showground to the east of Harrogate for all three days of the show.
By train: Mainline services run to Leeds and York; from there, regional railways go to Harrogate. The Harrogate International Centre is about a 15-minute walk from the station.
By air: Leeds/Bradford Airport is 19km away and Manchester Airport is 90km away.