Over 17 years ago I was very fortunate to be in Holland, Rotterdam area, and met a turf professional, Ko Rodenburg, who at that time was the Sports Turf Manager, for the City of Rotterdam, responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of over 280 football (soccer) pitches and other sporting areas.
He showed me the standard that he was achieving at local authority level, and to say I was amazed is an understatement. At that time they were being maintained at a far superior level than anything I had seen or been involved with here in the UK. Perfectly level and with very little Poa Annua present, and able to achieve between 600 and 1000 playing hours per year.
Upon him explaining to me what he wanted to achieve for the city and showing me the machinery that he had in his inventory to do this, another era in the advancement of sports turf maintenance machinery was about to evolve.
Within the next year Campey Turf Care Systems purchased the same machines Koro Rodenburg was using, the Koro Field Topmaker, Koro Recycling Dresser, Koro Cultiroll, Koro Speed Harrows and Koro TopDrain for the UK market, and started using them in our Sports Turf Contracting Division, and selling them. Fellow contractors and the leading Sports Turf Managers saw the machines, saw the work that had been done and the improvement in the quality of the turf, hence better wear, and more playing hours, less reliance on chemicals, and soon started purchasing and using the machines, off us.
Over the next few years, we carried on doing contract work, and as part of the standard end of season renovation practices the use of the Koro Field Topmaker became established each year. The first time it was used on an area we found that you had to go fairly deep (1 to 1 ½”) in order to bring the field to level, because at that time our fields were almost 100% poa annua, and remove most of the Poa seed bank. However in subsequent years the depth could be reduced to around ¼” to 3/8”, and hence the term KORO FRAISE MOWING was born. “Koro Fraise Mowing is when the machine is set to remove only herbage from the top of the pitch. When the machine is set in this mode the action grubs out shallow rooted poa annua, and removes out the entire plant along with any thatch accumulations. In effect one pass with this machine will far outweigh the benefit of continual scarification (verticutting) which many groundsmen undertake annually to remove poa and thatch which are associated with failing pitches” said Carl Pass – Managing Director - Premier Pitches Ltd - 1999.
Initially when the Koro Field Topmaker (FTM) came to market we had numerous football pitches being returfed during the playing season, some 3 or 4 times here in the UK. Now we do not see this more than a couple of times a year. However this seems to be still the main use of the FTM, (removal of the old turf prior to resodding) in the USA, except where turf professionals have been using the Koro Field Topmaker these last two and a half years, they will tell you what they have, and can be achieved!
Between 1999 and to date Imants, with our help, have further improved the product line resulting in new modern design further improved, and most important new type Patented rotors have been brought to market, these being the Terraplane® and Universe®. At this same time other companies decided to blatantly copy the Koro FTM, unfortunately, for them they copied the old 15 year models and rotors.
In 2011 we exhibited at the STMA show in Long Beach, bringing with us turf professionals from the UK and Europe, Carl Pass, Paul Burgess, Steve Braddock, and Chris Hague, and have continued to do so each year since. We all have had the pleasure of talking with fellow turf professionals who were experiencing exactly the same problems as what we had experienced 15 years previously. One of these guys was Jerad Minnick, (who was Grounds Manager at Maryland Soccer Complex), who after a little persuasion over a few beers, and a study tour/visit to the UK and Europe the following spring, bit the bullet and carried out a ”Koro Renovation” instead of a resodding on one of his pitches.
Further info can be found on his website www.growinginnovations.net
While all this was happening, we Campey Turf Care Systems were perfecting the Universe® rotor, initially designed and used for the annual cleaning out of all organic matter in Desso Grassmaster, hybrid pitch playing surfaces.
Jerad heard of this and saw some photos of what we had done with the prototype rotor and asked if we could get one to him, this we did, sending it to Phoenix and within 10 yards of seeing it work he was convinced that this rotor and operation needed to be carried out in warm season turf as it was just what was needed. Subsequently this saw carried out with Allen Reed at FC Dallas and at other venues, fraze mowing the turf surface both on sports pitches and golf courses.
Recently a video was made by Mizzou Network and an article has been published in Golf Course News
So you can all see that Fraise Mowing with the Koro FTM and Universe® rotor is fast becoming accepted in the USA and worldwide. During this year’s STMA on booth 1013 we will have Jerad Minnick, CEO of Growing Innovations, Paul Burgess of Real Madrid, Steve Braddock of Arsenal FC and Chris Hague of Ferencvaros FC, Hungary. Come along and talk with them at 2.30pm on Thursday 15th January and 10.30am on Friday 18th January 2015. They will all be happy to exchange views and methods on quality playing surfaces and how they can further improve them with you all.
All the work and interest generated in the Imants and Koro by Imants and Campey Imants product lines that has been generated in the US has now resulted in Aqua Aid being responsible for the import and sales down the East Coast, Sports Turf Services for the west coast and SW, Growing Innovations Texas and surrounding areas, and Commercial Turf Tractor for the upper mid-west area.