by Paul Brown, Fulwell Golf Club
"In a very short time we've found the Core Recycler to be absolutely indispensable. We were stunned at just how much it achieves relatively effortlessly. Genuinely, we more than doubled our output using half the team we did before and we hardly broke sweat.
"Before the new machine, we only ever budgeted to hollow core in maintenance weeks. Knowing the Core Recycler's capabilities, now I see huge opportunity. It's game on throughout the year for places where we would never even have considered anything beyond low cost operations like thatch control and scarification. We got such a handle on the Core Recycler after that initial maintenance week that we will use it on areas looking outward from the greens. It's free hand now to do what we like...everything obviously as long as we don't upset the putting surface.
"Take the tees and approaches - most clubs, including ours even though we are fairly affluent, could never ever considered buying in $8,000 - $10,000 of top dressing specifically for these areas. We still can't, but what I can do is hollow core. This will be hugely beneficial with the Core Recycler recycling that material back into the tees to help surface levels. That is something we are actively going to look at doing...for tees, probably hollow coring four or five times a year and the aprons the same amount.
"Prior to the Core Recycler, if we were going to hollow core those areas, pick up the cores, and throw them away - that would have a large cost attached. For our tees I would guess about sixty tons every operation and not be just sand at $60 a ton, but higher grade material at $80 per ton every six weeks of the growing season. This (way) enables us to do an operation when we like, when before it wouldn't even have been a consideration.
"Going forward we know for a fact that if you aerate greens on a more regular basis the soil biology improves. Just the fact that you can 'churn' soil then recycle it by topping it back up and keep moving back down towards the sward adds benefit. It's all enormously positive. I am guessing the more that you hollow core and recycle and keep churning the soil backwards and forwards through its profiles it will lead to things like fertilizer inputs dropping and irrigation requirements dropping.
"Before the advent of this new technology, one of the big contradictions for me was that we were spending our $60 per ton on top dressing greens and nursing it to a state where it was biologically activing in the soil - having come in sterile. We would put on bio-stimulants or, until recently, beneficial fungi and bacteria. What we were doing was working really hard, spending a whole lot of money building up the soil biology so it works in a symbiotic relationship with you and the grass plant. Then what do you do? You come along, hollow core it and throw it all easy, and then replace it with sterile material again...it just didn't add up.
"If we use the machine at the rate I think we will use it, then it will be 5 years by the time the machine is paid back. But of course in the 5 year period, it is not actually going to have a 'hard' life. There will be so much more life left."
"We're recycling easily 50% if not 60% of the cores back into the surface. If you look at some of the bigger clubs who set aside a budget of $15,000 - $20,000 a year on top dressing alone - they've got big savings to make, not to mention all the additional work it can be doing. After four years, the machine is effectively paying you to work!"
125% improvement in output
Up to 233% savings on staff - Instead of deploying seven team members for five days, Fulwell averaged 3.5 people on each of the five days. Next time around, Fulwell will manage this task with just 3 staff. This means that the new "coverage" will take the equivalent of 15 staff days, e.g. 5 days x 3 staff. Without the Core Recycler previously that would have taken them 35 staff days. Therefore Fulwell will be able to deploy their team to deal with other maintenance tasks.
Previously the exercise required 55 tons of sand @ $60 per ton = $3300
With the Wiedenmann Core Recycler, it cost just $1200
The saved top dressing costs were then used to increase the size of the project.
A handful of recycled cores after passing through the sieves showing the separated thatch content.
Showing some of the green still to be recycled. A clear picture of the recycled passes.
Specified for either low or high dump collection, the Core Recycler makes for fast straightforward emptying.
Prior to buying the Core Recycler, their best "result" was 1 1/4 hectares of greens and 3/4 hectares of tees/aprons carried out by a team of seven working flat out. In a perfect week they would aim to complete 18 to 19 greens and possibly two to three tees or aprons. Two hectares of output would be the best they could hope to achieve.
Fulwell Golf Club is a thriving, progressive club just 12 miles from the center of London and near to English Rugby Union's Twickenham stadium. A parkland course built with traditional push up greens, it boasts tree lined fairways and is of championship length. Immaculately maintained, it provides an enjoyable challenge for golfers of all standards.
The club purchased its first Wiedenmann machine in summer 2010 - a Terra Spike XP - and subsequently has gone on to purchase a further four Wiedenmann machines in as many years. Fulwell was one of the first venues to take delivery of the Core Recycler (June 2013).
Fulwell traditional has two maintenance weeks - May and August - where the principal task is to hollow core fine turf areas using 12mm tines to a depth of 50 mm at spacings of 40 mm.
These photos show the recycled material being returned to a golf tee.
Harvesting cores from a green.
This shows a typical ameliorated mix. The surface has been dressed first, then cored, then the sand and cores are lifted together as one. Once they are sieved through the recycler, this resultant quality mix is returned to the surface.
A typical "before" and "after" representation of the work of the Core Recycler. On the left is a full size hollow core collected from the surface. On the right, it has been lifted by the Core Recycler, processed through its sieves. Now only the fibrous content of the core remains and, at a glance, it can be seen just how much of the core is returned to the surface.
Height adjustable rollers make the job of either lifting or recycling cores smoother.
Finally, a dressing of sand was applied and brushed into the surface to complete the process and fill in any remaining holes.
Devoted to Turf.
The Core Recycler is cleaned every day after use. However, the only wear that is likely to occur, in time, is to the brush heads. No complicated or expensive maintenance is required.
Close up of a single pass with the recycler - fitted with solid tubes in the sieves thurs performing as a collector rather than a recycler.
The team at Fulwell was operating in very dry conditions so decided against sanding prior to recycling. However, in different conditions for example, they would have dressed the surface with sand prior to coring. A very interesting theory is to top dress first before coring. The recycler then lifts both the cores and top dressing, all of which travels through the sieves of the recycler and is then returned to the surface in a "mixed" state.
This is a mid stage photo of the Fulwell operation. Here no further dressing has been applied other than what has been recycled and brushed in, easily over 50% of the tine holes have been filled.
In the first maintenance week using the Core Recycler with, on average, a team of 3 1/2 staff, output increased dramatically. They completed 20 greens, all 18 teeing areas, some of which have four or five separate tees (3/4 hectares of tees), 1.2 hectares of aprons, and a hectare of run offs. It took just that initial week for the Fulwell squad to become comfortable and competent operators.
At the start of each session, the greenskeeping team hollow cored the fine turf to 50 mm depth and then left the cores sufficiently long for moisture to evaporate naturally. The Core Recycler lifted the cores with the four internal rotating sieves (screens) at the heart of the machine separating the fibrous content from the sand/soil mix. More than half the material lifted was returned to the surface. At this point, two of the Fulwell team were assigned to operate both the Mega Twister to remove debris and Terra Brush to work in the "good" part of the recycled core back into the surface.
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