Jonesy’s GIS notebook: meetings that stood out

By |  February 13, 2018 0 Comments

John Deere’s 8900A PrecisionCut mower

The John Deere booth had all sorts of activity. My friend Ren Wilkes, regional sales manager for Deere, told me the items that were getting the most attention in the booth was the 6500A PrecisionCut Fairway Mower, the OnLink demonstrations that started every 30 minutes, and the GPS sprayer on the John Deere HD300 that will become available this summer. “I really think (GPS) technology is one of those technologies that eventually will be everywhere,” Wilkes told me. He then passed me off to Brooks Hastings, product manager — who had a line of people waiting to talk to him — so we could talk more about the GPS sprayer.

“John Deere has been in GPS for years. We took technology from the agriculture industry and dialed all that technology into the sprayer,” Hastings told me. “This has been used for seeding and harvesting on a daily basis for decades. The reliability and the durability isn’t a question.”

“There is a lot of technology on these sprayers,” Hastings continued. “But that doesn’t equate to it being difficult to use. Drive it in, lower the booms. Even the new guy on the crew can do it. And there’s no operator fatigue.”

One other cool thing I learned there. The advertisement Deere has been running on the 8900A being used at Streamsong, quoting Jeff McCleary, equipment manager? Streamsong liked the mowers for their wide fairways so much that they not only wanted to buy 13 of them… but the first 13. So they have 8900A mower models Nos. 1 through 13 out there.

Collector’s items!

I’m a big fan of battery-powered blowers and string trimmers for our industry. I first got demos on the GreenWorks Tools products at the GIE+Expo show in Louisville a few years ago, then shortly after I got to see Oregon in action at the Golfdom Summit.

GreenWorks Tools had one of the… less ideal booth locations (far corner) of any of the booths I visited, but they were busy nonetheless. While Senior Product Manager David Glueck gave me a booth tour, I almost volunteered to step away, as the stream of interested superintendents seemed to be constant.

Glueck said the blowers and hedge trimmers were “no-brainers” for golf maintenance crews. (In my opinion I’d add in the string trimmers to that category, over the hedge trimmers.) He showed me the backpack users can wear, holding two batteries, giving users more run time.

“This is a green solution, it’s quieter and it gives the club a good image,” Glueck told me. “The golf industry is having the same problem as a lot of industries — getting workers to return each year. (Battery powered equipment) offers ease-of-use, making it easier to train; you don’t have equipment breaking down; and you don’t have fuel crossing or stale gas.”

Glueck used the chainsaw he had to make short work of a sturdy piece of oak he had in the booth. He also showed me the blower and string trimmer in action. With the backpack batteries, the blower can get two hours of use before it needs another charge. It has a variable speed trigger and cruise control allowing the operator to maintain the speed he or she wants.

Talk about a person who believes he is in the right business… Glueck talked to me about how battery technology is making big leaps each year (faster charging with more power), making their product line more competitive with each show. According to Glueck, we’ll be writing about battery-powered equipment for a while, with plenty of new updates each year.

Chenxi Zhang

At the Bayer booth I ran into Rob Golembiewski, Ph.D., who wanted to talk nematodes (we’re working on a big feature on that topic that you can read next month.) He said that their nematicide, Indemnify, has done well. Now they’re trying to educate superintendents beyond the southeast about the perils of having nematodes in their turf.

“Nematodes are a problem in the north and even on the west coast,” Golembiewski said. “The guys in the southwest know. Now, in other parts of the country, there’s a lot of education taking place.”

Beyond nematodes we also talked Exteris Stressgard and Leaf-Cote technology, which launched last summer. “A lot of products provide disease control, but we want to go beyond that,” Golembiewski said. “We want to mitigate abiotic stress, heat stress, drought stress.”

Leaf-Cote helps with retention and dispersion on the plant. Chenxi Zhang, product development manager, walked me over to some test plots and a display that showed root growth in turf with Exteris Stressgard. Zhang said Leaf-Cote allowed the turf we were looking at to get five- to ten-times better dispersion on the plant, hence the stronger roots.

Photos: Abby Hart (John Deere), Seth Jones (Chenxi Zhang)

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