Several of the articles I have written in the last year have focused on alternative power and what manufacturers have to offer us going forward. With SALTEX upon us in early November, I would urge all readers to visit and to look not just at the traditional ride-on mowers, tractors, power tools and the like, but also at what is new and revolutionary. What is technology doing for our industry, and where are the next innovations coming from?
Advances from manufacturers and suppliers are all well and good, but there needs to be an overall partnership approach adopted by all relevant stakeholders. Without this, new ideas invariably lose momentum or run aground. To
give an example, we have recently been looking at new developments within that most routine of tasks, sports field line marking. “Fascinating,” I hear you yawn – but it’s an area where technology has made a big difference.
You would think that putting straight lines on a field would be an easy job, but this is not the case; the initial marking of a playing pitch takes a bit of working out to ensure all is correct, so that players and referees are all happy. Most
playing pitches use a series of straight lines that need to be accurately measured and to line up – not to mention the centre circle. And what about athletics? It’s not so easy keeping an accurate curve on an eight-lane running track,
but technology can help. Laser guidance, and more recently GPS in the line marking sector, has made a big difference, with GPS also giving the ability to store data from the initial marking so that future marking is quicker and easier as
long as the field is still available – even if the goal posts may have moved.
This brings me to my point about all parties working towards the same goal, if you pardon the pun. At a recent demo of a GPS enabled system, the biggest issue was the grass itself. Reduced cutting frequencies, as specified by the client, and a moist season meant that there was a considerable carpet of arisings lying onthe pitch – hindering not just the marking operation, but also the football match to be played 48 hours later. It used to be that before marking the lines the groundsman would use a pedestrian rotary to cut the grass where the line was to be and then mark the line.
Unfortunately, the whole area was cut in one pass in this instance, and we had to send somebody ahead with a blower to clear the arisings so that the grass could be marked. Technology and innovation could deliver us a line marker with its own blower, or even a small rotary head to cut ahead of the marking apparatus. You never know, there might be one at SALTEX!
Budget pressures are a burden to everyone, but where’s the sense in reducing grass cutting to save money when the amount of arisings results in those who use the pitches having to cancel matches because they are not fit for purpose? A bit of lateral thinking and cooperation between client, contractor and end user could have resulted in the pitches
themselves being cut at a more suitable frequency, with the surrounding grass left on the original regime. This thinking could also be adopted for the aeration regime, which would keep the pitch in a playable, income-generation
state. It’s not a difficult situation to achieve – it just needs all parties to communicate.
Angus’s blog article is also published in the November 2017 issue of Pro Landscaper magazine.