New machinery helps drainage at The Castle

With drainage a priority again this winter at The Castle Course and wanting to maximise any good weather windows we might have, some research through the summer was carried out to see if we could find a machine which would make us more productive.

After chatting to course managers, some research and finally getting a demo, we thought the AFT45 trencher would fit our requirements.

Chain trencher in action

The principle of the machine is similar to the ‘Ditchwitch’, which we blogged about last year.

During the dry summer months many of the drain lines became obvious, so marks were made on the ground in areas that required drainage from the previous wet winter. This would help us speed the process up once work was to commence. We also used drainage maps/plans to help find other existing drainage and check for any other service which might run along the proposed new drainage lines.

Paint marking the drainage line towards the end of the summer

New trench lines were marked out and the turf was then cut.  The turf rolls were placed to the side in the exact order they were cut, so once the job was complete these would be laid back in the exact same place making it look like we hadn’t carried out any work. The advantage of the AFT45 is it’s compact and fits on a small tractor, allowing us into tight situations unlike our bigger machinery that would have struggled. Using a shoot conveyor helped speed up the process as the material was conveyed straight into the dump vehicle to take away unlike the Ditchwitch where it had to be manually put in.

Shoot conveyor speeding up the process

Even with the below average rainfall for the year, once certain drain lines were opened up water started to fill the trench. 80mm perforated pipe was then placed in the trench and back filled with pea gravel.

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Water already seeping into the trench after only 45 minutes in two locations

Gravel being back filled into the trench

Final prep work before replacing the turf

Once the gravel was placed to the recommended depth, the rest of the trench was back filled with sand and the turf replaced. Within only a 10 day period we had trenched 600-700 metres which almost accounted for all the drainage we achieved last winter, albeit the ground conditions were a lot wetter last year. We aim to carry on trenching during this dry period up to Christmas and to have over 1000 metres trenched in total, which should continue to help improve the playability and ground conditions at The Castle Course.

Words by Jon Wood, Course Manager – The Castle Course

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