Company- Hanceys Turf

Earlier this year Hancey’s turf purchased the Koro field top drain machine to complement they’re sports turf drainage machinery range. The machine demonstrated speed, efficiency and quality of work while on demo in several different situations on various projects from sub grade drainage to sand slits on the surface of existing sports fields, so the company decide to purchase the Koro built machine from Geoff Hatton at sustainable turf equipment, Sydney.

Back in 1996 Ko Rodenburg, while working for the Amsterdam city council in Holland invented three machines for renovating sports fields; the koro field top maker, for removing thatch layers and unsuitable field surfaces, the recycling top dresser, for aeration of soils and top dressing the spoil, and the Koro Field top drainer. Whilst the first two are used regularly world-wide, the top drain is less well known and Hancey’s turf saw the opportunity to purchase one of the only ones available in Australia. The koro top drain cuts trenches at 500mm apart, to any depth varying from 100mm to 300mm, removes the spoil via conveyor belt into a trailer, backfills with sand and compacts the trenches again with the rear tyres in one pass, making it an efficient and clean process.

Once available, Hanceys quickly put the machine to work on three different projects with varying specification of works;

  1. Sunshine coast grammar school – A grid drainage system was built into the sub-grade of a new build field to specifications required, with lateral pipe drains at 10 meter centres east to west across the field, these fed by gravel bands running length ways north to south. The Koro top drain installed these gravel bands at 200mm depth and spaced 500mm apart cutting into the clay sub-base with no problems at all. Once the drainage system was completed then the root zone sand was pushed out over the sub-base and drainage, laser graded and turfed. The whole process only taking 10 days to complete.
  2. Chelmer recreation reserve, Brisbane council – This project was completed successfully with slightly different specifications as it was an existing field. The field was originally built on an old tip as many council fields in the Brisbane area are, and capped over with top soil which had been compacted over years of use and had poor drainage characteristics due to the nature of the soil and minimal maintenance budgets. Hancey’s Turf was employed by the council to install a drainage system, aerate, top dress and renovate the surface. Pipe drains were again installed, this time with the challenge of avoiding the existing irrigation system. The pipe drainage went in at 400mm depth under the irrigation lines(300mm depth) at cross points and the Koro top drain put in sand bands at 200mm depth 500mm apart. The field was then verti-drained, top dressed and fertilised and was back in play 8 weeks after the initial works began. This short time frame was necessary due to fitting works in between the cricket season finishing and the AFL season starting as is often the case on multi-purpose council grounds. Impressively the ‘top drain’ was able to cut through rock, metal and other harsh materials due to its 3 powerful cutting blades easily.
  3. Griffith university, Nathan campus – An existing drainage system was in place at Griffith university’s Nathan campus but the drainage rates were too slow as surface water took too long reaching the pipe drains after a downpour meaning cancelled fixtures and lost revenue to the uni who rent the football field out to local sportsclubs as well as using it for their own fixtures. Hanceys turf was called in to rectify this problem, and only had a small 3 week window where the field was out of play. Using the top drain, Hanceys were able to sand slit the field at 500mm apart by 200mm deep in two days removing any chance of surface water causing waterlogging. The speed and efficiency of the trenching meant that minimal surface disruption was caused and the field playable within the narrow time frame. Using only purpure build light weight machinery with floatation tyres meant the field quality was not compromised and compaction was minimised. Fertilising the field upon completion meant trenches were fully grassed over after four weeks and the field back to normal playability with enhanced drainage now in place.

As all turf managers will recognise, we have to work with the elements and nature to succeed in our profession.  Whilst we welcome rain at some stages of turf care, we also need to prepare for when sudden downpours or constant rain can affect the playability of fields and maintenance programs we employ. Waterlogging and surface wet spots can now be avoided by adding drainage and sand or gravel banding, this means less lost revenue through cancelled fixtures and less wear and tear on fields with poor stability due to inclement weather. One question we had thrown at us from a recent grounds manager was; ‘will this mean an increase in watering costs to us’, the answer; ‘no, it will not’. Surface drainage works by moving or ‘pulling’ surface water down through the profile and away into pipe drains through osmosis, only when the surface is flooded will drainage pull unwanted excess of surface water down and away, it does not act like a sponge and dry up the soil profile surrounding it, there is no sideways pull of water, only a gravitational pull downwards.

For any advice and questions about the ‘koro field top drain’ or adding a drainage system to your sports field please contact Hancey’s Turf, who would be happy to help make your fields playable in any weather condition.