August 2017

SportsTurf provides current, practical and technical content on issues relevant to sports turf managers, including facilities managers. Most readers are athletic field managers from the professional level through parks and recreation, universities.

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www.spor 41 August 2017 // Is a stand-on aerator right for you? Editor's note: This piece on stand-on aerators was supplied by Exmark Manufacturing. S oil compaction is one of the most common issues impacting the health of highly traffi cked sports fi elds and other green spaces. Aeration is widely recognized as one of the best and most cost-ef- fective ways to reduce compaction issues and improve the overall health and vitality of the turf. While the benefi ts of aeration are well known, selecting the best aeration equipment for your specifi c needs may be more complex. According to Lloyd von Scheliha, product manager at Exmark Manufacturing, tractor-mounted and large walk-behind aerators are often the choice of sports facilities with dedicated maintenance equipment on-site. But for grounds crews and contractors that aer- ate a variety of turf types in multiple locations, a stand-on aerator is a compelling proposition. "For many turf care professionals, aeration is typically one prac- tice in their overall turf management program," von Scheliha says. "They need an aerator with the versatility to productively aerate an entire sports fi eld, while also having the ability to aerate narrow walking paths with ease." Case study Rob Tetrault, Atlanta-area manager for Yellowstone Landscape, is one such professional. While much of Tetrault's business is com- prised of commercial offi ce parks, apartment complexes and corpo- rate campuses, his crews also maintain the sports fi elds and green areas of two Atlanta-area school systems. "We maintain the DeKalb County School system, which has more than 140 locations, 40 of which have sports fi elds we maintain," Tetrault said. "We perform mowing, aeration and overseeding at each of the locations, as well as top- dressing upon request." When Tetrault recently looked at his options for a new aerator, he said the stand-on aerator had the right combination of pro- ductivity, portability and ease of use. "Since we main- tain numerous types of turf, in addition to sports fi elds, the Exmark stand-on aer- ator was a great fi t for us. It helps us get more done with less and is versatile enough to use on any of the properties we maintain." Ease of transport is an- other major benefi t of the stand-on machine, Tetrault mentioned. "We can easily load, trans- port and unload the stand-on aerator on a small trailer. Compared to the complexities of transporting a tractor-mounted aerator, the stand-on machine is much simpler and less time consuming." Often capable of aerating two acres per hour or more, stand-on aerators have the ability to make quick work of even the largest sports fi elds and properties. In addition, machines such as Tetrault's Exmark offer zero-turn maneuverability, with reduced operator fa- tigue from the stand-on design. "Compared to the walk-behind aerators we had been using, the stand-on aerator is signifi cantly more productive," Tetrault said. "You can aerate a large sports fi eld in roughly an hour and a half. With our old walk-behind machines, the same job would have taken three to four hours. And best of all, my guys aren't completely ex- hausted at the end of the day, so they can come back rested and ready to go the next day." On smaller properties, Tetrault says the ability to follow property contours with the tines engaged is a major benefi t. "Since you're not locked into aerating in a straight line, you can get around the property faster and turn without tearing up the turf." Tetrault's crews often combine aeration with overseeding or weed control. He tries to schedule aeration either prior to, or just after, the sports season. "Because we're typically aerating in the off-season, we can leave the plugs on the surface to break down naturally. That said, if we aerate shortly before a game or event, we'll usually go back and drag the fi eld to break up the plugs." "We're always looking for ways to work smarter, not harder," he added. /ST/ Photo provided by Exmark

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