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First for Rugby as Emerald Headingley Stadium take delivery of a brace of Cub Cadet INFINICUT® mowers

Cub Cadet INFINICUT® mowers make it a ‘first’ for Emerald Headingley Stadium in Leeds. Home to both Rugby Union and Rugby League, the club is currently in the midst of a £41m redevelopment and the INFINICUT® purchase is a ‘first’ for a rugby club in the UK. However, these aren’t the only new additions for Head Groundsman Ryan Golding to contend with as the redevelopment includes two new stands.
“Myself, and my team of three, have our work cut out with a busy schedule of play as we’re home to both Leeds Rhinos rugby league, and Yorkshire Carnegie rugby union clubs. On top of multi-use rugby, we also host academy games, externals events, training and more” explains Ryan, who has been at Headingley for 15 years. While the facility is happy to invest where it’s considered to be required, when it comes to new machinery, Ryan must justify a solid business case. 
“Our previous mowers were starting to cause us a lot of problems, so we looked at some alternatives. I’ve demonstrated the INFINICUT® previously and had been impressed with it, and after a few conversations with Vinny Tarbox of MTD, it was evident the mowers could make a big difference to the quality of our playing surface. The fact the INFINICUT®’s can be powered electrically went a long way in making a viable case. The reduced noise, as well as emissions, it produces have meant that despite our inner-city location, we have been able to mow earlier in the mornings and therefore cope better with the recent hot conditions.” 
Following their delivery in June 2018, the mowers are in use three to four times a week, including in the build-up to games, thanks to the cleanliness of cut and quality of finish they produce. With the work ongoing and play continuing throughout, Ryan’s favourite feature however, is something else! “It’s the simplest of things but the Cub Cadets have quick-release, demountable wheels which are a god send when transporting the mowers 300yards from our stores to the pitch. Now, even navigating through a building site, has not been a problem.”
In the space of just a few weeks, Ryan is already impressed with the benefits the INFINICUT®’s have delivered. “Presentation and quality of cut have improved, with the back-up from Vinny and Jonty great too. The lads have liked the mowers ever since they tried them on demo, so together we’re all delighted with our decision.”


Hearts install new state-of-the-art pitch

Heart of Midlothian FC will meet champions Celtic for the first time on their new state-of-the-art hybrid pitch at Tynecastle Park this weekend, in their opening home game of the SPFL 18/19 season.
Hearts replaced their grass pitch in February 2017 as a short-term solution to pitch performance problems. This spring, senior club management and the board of directors took the decision to significantly invest in the Tynecastle playing surface. The club engaged STRI sport facility specialists as designers and project managers to oversee the entire reconstruction.
STRI’s in-house design team laid out the final schematic of the pitch, to include undersoil heating, a new drainage system and a new irrigation system. After contractor interviews, Carrick Sports was engaged by Hearts to undertake construction works, and SIS Grass were brought in to install a hybrid reinforced pitch.
Hearts commenced major pitch reconstruction works immediately after the final whistle was blown last season on 9 May. Work was undertaken during the close season, with an extremely tight deadline for completion set for 24 July, ahead of a Betfred Cup match against Cowdenbeath.
Hearts chairwoman, Ann Budge, said: “This was another “impossible timetable” according to many, and yet we managed to achieve it. We have to thank Carrick Sports and SIS Grass for taking on the challenge and STRI for managing the process for us.”
STRI’s project manager, Gordon Howat, said: “As is always the case with stadium reconstruction projects, the timeframe for delivery was tight, and access restrictions proved challenging. However, the club, STRI and Carrick Sports worked in collaboration to overcome these issues, and in association with SIS Grass, have produced a terrific surface that Heart of Midlothian FC can be proud of. Everybody within the project team is delighted with what has been accomplished this summer.”
STRI and Carrick Sports has also installed an ultramodern environmental monitoring system – the first of its kind to be deployed in any stadia. This means that Tynecastle Park will benefit from the highest levels of monitoring and data analysis available in the world. Live moisture levels have been positioned across the pitch which will automatically collect data, including air temperature in the stadium and light levels for grass growth.
Ann Budge added: “STRI’s environmental monitoring system will allow the grounds team at Tynecastle to ensure that the surface is maintained at the highest standard.”
Jambos fans have been following the progress of the reconstruction on social media, @weemac proclaimed the pitch to be “looking fantastic” and @RabKeir said it’s “God’s playing field, it’s a field of dreams”.


It never rains but it pours

Pontarddulais Bowls Club and Graig Merthyr Bowls Club share the same council-owned green in Coedbach Park, Pontarddulais, Swansea. The green there has seen around ninety years of play and until early in 2018 had always been free draining, with regular treatment such as Vertidraining, although it had become noticeable the green was changing. Built on shale, as is typical of many greens, the gradual compaction was taking its toll. Club Treasurer Bryan Gillard remembers standing under the canopy by the Clubhouse and watching what happened to the green when it rained heavily.
“The green was filling with water before my very eyes,” he says, “and after the heavy showers it remained quite sodden and unplayable. It seemed no amount of work could get it back into shape.” This left fifty or so members without playing facilities until it dried out.
Bryan remembered reading about Terrain Aeration’s treatment for bowling greens and sports pitches in Bowls magazine and he invited the specialist aeration company to come along and advise on the situation. It became immediately clear that much deeper aeration was needed than the usual Vertidraining, to relieve the compaction and panning beneath the surface. Bryan sought approval from Swansea City Council and with the help of two local councillors the funds were raised to do the work in March 2018.
Terrain Aeration’s deep penetration aeration system uses their Terralift machine to drive a probe one metre deep into the soil, through the compaction, where it releases a blast of compressed air, fracturing the soil. On the tail end of the air blast dried seaweed is injected, which sticks to the walls of the fissures. This is finished with the probe hole being filled with porous Lytag aggregate and topped with the usual top dressing. Here the seaweed will remain, swelling and contracting with the moisture in the soil, maintaining the aeration, drainage and allowing oxygen to get to the roots. In some instances water-storing polymers may also be added with the seaweed
The process is repeated over a staggered grid every two metres to ensure the fissures are fully interlinked. The result is immediate and vastly improved draining, allowing play to commence straight away. The problem for Bryan was there was no rain to speak of for a long period and no one was able to judge the results. Until the first heavy rains that is, when the car park at the club became totally awash. The bowling green however remained free of water and the success and improvement to the sward became even more evident during the long summer drought. Torrential rains left no evidence as they passed, with the green remaining free-draining and the surface vastly improved. “It’s fair to say everyone has been well pleased with the result,” says Bryan, who though now retired as Treasurer, remains a part of the long tradition of bowling in Pontarddulais.

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