Contractor at Work

The drainage project on this fairway is finished and the fairway is ready for play. The scars heal within a few weeks, depending on the growing season. System solutions

Unpredictable and excessive wet weather patterns through 2012 are creating major financial problems for many golf clubs in the U.K. Clubs that have invested in field drainage and are on lighter soils are better off than those on heavier landIn the U.K. we are undoubtedly experiencing changing weather patterns and the majority of meteorologists seem to think that this phenomenon is likely to continue.A closed course can lead to a fall in income, not only from green fees, but also from fewer sales in the pro shop and restaurants/catering department. Generally speaking, there is a decrease in revenue, but staff expect to be paid as usual.Unless action is taken on the drainage front, things will go from bad to worse. Now that joining fees have been widely abolished, even longstanding members will consider moving to a drier club nearby.There is no inexpensive way to drain a course. But a desperate situation calls for desperate measures. Different approaches need to be set out and prices compared. Here is one example:A club decides it must drain parts of several fairways if it is to keep the course open for play in periods of wet weather, but it has no spare cash. The club owners have approached banks, which are unwilling to loan money, even though the club specifies that this is an investment.So the club turns to its 700 members and asks for an interest-free loan of $150 each, payable over one year by a payment plan, i.e., approximately $12.50 per month. The $105,000 loan will be repaid by the club when it is in a better financial position.Working on a tight budget, the club decides on a do-it-yourself approach. It plans to buy a new chain trencher that will fit on the three-point linkage of one of its own compact tractors. The greenkeepers keep their machinery in top condition so, at the project’s completion, the chain trencher will be sold for 50 percent of its purchase price. Because they will have their own trencher, the club can work at the most convenient time for them.The chain trencher they purchase costs approximately $28,000. Its digging width can be varied to allow it to install 60-, 80-, 100-, and 110-millimeter-diameter land drainage pipes. It digs to a maximum depth of one meter. The digging blades do wear down, and need to be costed into the equation.The club devises a plan for its drainage work and gleans information on layouts from the Internet. However, it decides to take professional advice and builds this into its budget. The advice includes layout, depth and width of trenches, pipe sizes, junctions, outfalls and discharge points. Professionals also explain the type and source of backfilling aggregates needed.The course overall is gently sloping, which has advantages when undertaking drainage works. On flat terrain the use of a hired-in laser should be considered.It’s important to keep in mind that if greenkeepers undertake the land drainage, they may not have time to carry out their routine maintenance work. One suggestion is to put a senior greenkeeper in charge of drainage operations and seek volunteers from the club membership to help him. This may seem unorthodox, but remember – desperate times call for desperate measures. Basic training would need to be given to each of the temporary greenkeepers.Good leadership is necessary for this formula to work. Club members and volunteers may develop new friendships, and the club may experiece a boost in morale.Approximate costs (Tax is not included) 50 percent of the cost of chain trencher and blades: $14,000 replacement digging blades per set: $350 60-millimeter land drainage pipe: $.70 per meter 80-millimeter land drainage pipe: $.90 per meter 100-millimeter land drainage pipe: $1.50 per meter Outfall pipe: $15 Connector: $11 Headwall and vermin guard: $84 Backfilling aggregate per ton: gravel, $32.00; sand, $38 In working out the costs, the club includes a generous contingency figure. Nevertheless, the $105,000 will go a long way to rectifying poor drainage on many fairways and hopefully restore the financial well-being of the club.Upheaval caused by drainage works is no longer a serious problem with today’s precision machinery. The fairway will need to be closed while the actual drainage operations are in progress but can be reopened for play immediately afterwards. David Shelton is managing partner of Shelton Sportsturf Drainage Solutions based in England. The business has 30 years of experience in fine turf drainag and manufactures a wide range of equipment. For more information, phone 01507 578288 or visit www.sheltonsdrainage.c

Pride of ownership

It was a few short years after the Second World War came to an end – 65 years ago to be exact – that Ben Kafer started his family on its journey in the tile drainage business. “It was 1948 and he was a foreman on the railroad at the time,” explains Ben’s grandson, also named Ben Kafer, who is a current co-owner of Kafer Tiling and Excavating in Fairbury, Ill. “A railroad strike happened and he needed to provide for his family of eight children, so he started digging drainage by hand.”The elder Ben’s son Duane was 19 at this point and pitched in to help his father. Duane then joined the army, and when he finished his military career a few years later in 1953, he used his savings to purchase a Jeep trencher. “My grandfather Ben and my father Duane used it to work jobs together, using a string for grade,” notes the younger Kafer. “In 1962, Dad also purchased a Speicher wheel trencher as well as a backhoe, one of the first in the area.” Kafer himself started working full time in the family business in 1979, and in 1983, he purchased the business (which was then known as Kafer Tiling & Ditching) from his father, who continued as an active part of the company for many years. Kafer says he enjoys the drainage business because he gets to see firsthand the difference it can make in a farmer’s field. “It’s amazing what the impact can be when an existing tile quits draining and is repaired to start working again,” he explains.In 1990, Kafer made the move to purchase a Port Industries Hydratandem II wheel trencher, and used it for many years to install mostly clay tiles from Diller Tile in Chatsworth, Ill. “In 2011, we added a Hydramaxx 2500 chain trencher for easier backfilling,” he says. “And as more customers wanted system drainage on their farmers, we purchased a Hydramaxx 3500 plow in order to be able to offer the installation of plastic tubing (made in Chatsworth by Prinsco).”The company also installs large-diameter tiles with its excavators, all John Deere and CAT. “We choose these brands because they allow us to provide our customers with what they desire, and because they and their dealers offer dependable service and available parts,” Kafer says.  A member of the fourth generation – Kafer’s son Chris – started full-time work in the family business in 2002. “He enjoys the ditching and began a business called Kafer Excavating in 2006,” notes Kafer. “In 2009, we changed Kafer Tiling and Ditching to Kafer Tiling and Excavating Inc. to merge the two businesses and allow the sale of stock.” The move also brought in Kafer’s cousin Josh Kafer, who had worked for the company on and off since 1992, as a part owner. “We three are the current owners of the corporation and my wife Carol continues to run the office,” Kafer says. “I believe this will help in the continuance of this business for years to come.”Kafer Tiling and Excavating now designs and installs drainage systems (main tiles shared by neighbors and random tile lines) and handles tile repair, downspouts, septic systems, waterways, ditch cleaning, pond creation, tree grinding, directional boring, terraces and demolition. Chris manages the excavating side of the business. Carol handles payroll, invoicing, payables, advertising and all other office management tasks. Kafer works in sales and purchasing of materials, and assists where needed. Josh designs drainage systems and dispatches the company’s eight employees each day. And with such a strong family involvement, Kafer says treating employees the way he and his family would like to be treated is so important. “We greatly appreciate the work our employees do and recognize that they are a very important part of our business.”Industry progressLooking back over the years, Kafer says the use of laser on trenching machines was probably the first large industry change that affected the family business. His father Duane added laser to replace the targets he was using at the time in 1972. “The change from laying clay tile to plastic tubing was another big step,” Kafer observes. “In recent time, I would say the biggest change in the industry is the use of GPS, not only for mapping but also machine control.”In terms of memorable jobs, Kafer recalls one that involved a long-term tenant farmer customer. “The land he worked had been sold to an owner who had tile plowing done by a competitor,” he says. “They had plowed through a neighbor’s eight-inch main and caused him to have a pond full of water for a year. This tenant then asked us to repair about 400 feet of it because the other company would not come back evidently for such a small job and planting was already started.” Kafer says the landowner was so pleased with their work that he later had Kafer system tile more than 700 acres for him in three locations. “I believe it pays to offer a full-service business of both new installation and repair of old,” Ben says. “If a customer has a wet spot, no matter what size the job, it is important to us to satisfy him.”Another memorable job involved the opportunity to install a 30-inch tile for a 2,000-acre watershed. “The neighbors had worked together to replace a failing 21-inch clay main,” Kafer remembers. “It was a joy to see everyone co-operating financially and otherwise, with most of the people involved not getting a tile on their farm but understanding that their tiles connected to this main. Most of the owners involved were our customers and trusted us to design and install this main.” He adds, “Our customers told us this project was very helpful in draining the excess water from the spring rains of 2013.”Kafer says the company has plans to build an office close to the shop, as the company has outgrown the office in his and Carol’s home. When asked about the secrets to success and longevity for a business such as theirs, Kafer recognizes the value of learning from the past. “I believe everyone can and does make mistakes. It’s the way you handle them that makes the difference,” he says. “To stay in business for years and have repeat business, we must provide our customers with a quality product at a competitive rate. We try to treat people the way we would want to be treated.”

Industry News

Technology abounds in the midwest

April 22, 2014, Iowa – Throughout the midwest in recent years, farmers have been placing tile drainage into thousands of acres, and more technology continues to be offered to help farmers with tile drainage so they get the most value from their soils, writes the Iowa Farmer Today. | READ MORE

Farmer sold on benefits of drainage control system

April 15, 2014, Illinois – John Wilken, a farmer in Iroquois County, Ill., farms flat ground, which he has found is ideal for use with Natural Resources Conservation Service’s drainage water management practice, writes AgriNews. | READ MORE

Drainage Management Systems

Controlled burn planned for drainage system

April 7, 2014, Longmont, CO – Officials are planning a controlled burn of a drainage system that runs through a golf course to clear dead and downed vegetation in the system, according to the Times-Call. | READ MORE

Drainage on demand offers benefits to farmers

April 7, 2014, Ohio – State conservation engineers in Ohio are seeing the benefits of Drainage Water Management, an option from the USDA's Natural Resource Conservation Services, writes FarmersAdvance.com. | READ MORE 

Observations on drainage system management

March 20, 2014, Wisconsin – From the perspective of a family company that's been in the agriculture tiling business since 1947, Larry Jarosinski of Angelica Tile recalled history, shared experiences and offered advice at the recent seminar on tile drainage of agricultural lands, writes the Journal Sentinel. | READ MORE

Cape Cod golf courses to receive improvements

Feb. 10, 2014, Cape Cod, MA – Two Massachusetts golf courses will receive a comprehensive enhancement plan, including drainage improvements, this fall, according to GolfCourseArchitecture.net. | READ MORE

Business

Rob Burtonshaw U.K. Update: Weather woes

Drainage contractors often have a difficult relationship with the weather, especially in the United Kingdom, where four seasons in one day is the norm rather than the exception. We need bad weather: without excessive rain, no farmer would invest in drainage. However, this very weather also creates some of our most painful headaches. One day we are choking in dust, and the next we are axle deep in mud and sinking fast. Such is the plight of a drainage contractor. For British contractors, the weather has been a roller-coaster and a subject that has proven impossible to avoid over the last couple of years, hence the reason for writing about it. The 2011-12 winter season was dry as a bone. Normally, our weather dictates that very little can be done in the field during January and February as it’s simply too wet (by definition any field we enter is a wet field, and in the dank winter months, our plant would sink out of sight if will tried to install drainage). In 2011-2012, we were able work hard throughout the winter; great news, one might think. The problem was that after such a dry time, farmers’ thoughts were not focused on draining. Orders were delayed or cancelled and all contractors were scrapping around trying to find work. Of course, balance is something that Mother Nature is very keen on: It started raining in April 2012 and the summer was washed away. Still not content, the rain continued into autumn and caused major problems, with farmers unable to drill and plant winter wheat in as many fields as they planned. And even still not content, the rain continued into the winter, although at least such rain is expected at that time. By the end of the year, 2012 had been officially labelled the wettest in England since 1872. The rain had two major impacts on the drainage industry. The first was positive: demand skyrocketed. The second impact was not so positive. The little work that was available in the summer and autumn was harder to complete and, therefore, less profitable.       This year the weather has been benign and typical. The only deviation from the average was a warmer and sunnier summer than normal – something welcomed by all! It sounds almost unbelievable, but we had a three-week block of solid sunny weather with temperatures reaching over 25 C degrees every day, all very unusual for our damp, mild Isles.   I can say for certain that 2013 is already going to be a good year for British contractors. High demand combined with good summer weather will mean profits for all, which is a very welcome prospect after last year. However, it also makes me ponder a question, which often lurks deep in the edges of my mind: Why does demand for drainage fluctuate depending upon the weather?I suppose the answer is easy; when the rain is falling it sharpens the mind to the problems it causes. But this perhaps shows a misunderstanding of the time scales involved with drainage. Buried safety in the ground, drainage lasts a long time; the investment is for the long term and should be made following a session spent number-crunching yield data – not when looking out of the window wishing it would stop raining. I’m convinced that worldwide, but especially in the United Kingdom, we have to be more proactive in selling and promoting drainage. I’m not convinced that our customers and, more importantly, our potential customers, understand drainage and what it can do for them. We need to use the press, shout loudly and explain to farmers the yield advantages. The decision to drain should not be based on last month’s rainfall; it should be part of a long-term investment plan comparable to a new barn or combine harvester. Rob Burtonshaw is a drainage contractor in the United Kingdom.

System solutions

Unpredictable and excessive wet weather patterns through 2012 are creating major financial problems for many golf clubs in the U.K. Clubs that have invested in field drainage and are on lighter soils are better off than those on heavier landIn the U.K. we are undoubtedly experiencing changing weather patterns and the majority of meteorologists seem to think that this phenomenon is likely to continue.A closed course can lead to a fall in income, not only from green fees, but also from fewer sales in the pro shop and restaurants/catering department. Generally speaking, there is a decrease in revenue, but staff expect to be paid as usual.Unless action is taken on the drainage front, things will go from bad to worse. Now that joining fees have been widely abolished, even longstanding members will consider moving to a drier club nearby.There is no inexpensive way to drain a course. But a desperate situation calls for desperate measures. Different approaches need to be set out and prices compared. Here is one example:A club decides it must drain parts of several fairways if it is to keep the course open for play in periods of wet weather, but it has no spare cash. The club owners have approached banks, which are unwilling to loan money, even though the club specifies that this is an investment.So the club turns to its 700 members and asks for an interest-free loan of $150 each, payable over one year by a payment plan, i.e., approximately $12.50 per month. The $105,000 loan will be repaid by the club when it is in a better financial position.Working on a tight budget, the club decides on a do-it-yourself approach. It plans to buy a new chain trencher that will fit on the three-point linkage of one of its own compact tractors. The greenkeepers keep their machinery in top condition so, at the project’s completion, the chain trencher will be sold for 50 percent of its purchase price. Because they will have their own trencher, the club can work at the most convenient time for them.The chain trencher they purchase costs approximately $28,000. Its digging width can be varied to allow it to install 60-, 80-, 100-, and 110-millimeter-diameter land drainage pipes. It digs to a maximum depth of one meter. The digging blades do wear down, and need to be costed into the equation.The club devises a plan for its drainage work and gleans information on layouts from the Internet. However, it decides to take professional advice and builds this into its budget. The advice includes layout, depth and width of trenches, pipe sizes, junctions, outfalls and discharge points. Professionals also explain the type and source of backfilling aggregates needed.The course overall is gently sloping, which has advantages when undertaking drainage works. On flat terrain the use of a hired-in laser should be considered.It’s important to keep in mind that if greenkeepers undertake the land drainage, they may not have time to carry out their routine maintenance work. One suggestion is to put a senior greenkeeper in charge of drainage operations and seek volunteers from the club membership to help him. This may seem unorthodox, but remember – desperate times call for desperate measures. Basic training would need to be given to each of the temporary greenkeepers.Good leadership is necessary for this formula to work. Club members and volunteers may develop new friendships, and the club may experiece a boost in morale.Approximate costs (Tax is not included) 50 percent of the cost of chain trencher and blades: $14,000 replacement digging blades per set: $350 60-millimeter land drainage pipe: $.70 per meter 80-millimeter land drainage pipe: $.90 per meter 100-millimeter land drainage pipe: $1.50 per meter Outfall pipe: $15 Connector: $11 Headwall and vermin guard: $84 Backfilling aggregate per ton: gravel, $32.00; sand, $38 In working out the costs, the club includes a generous contingency figure. Nevertheless, the $105,000 will go a long way to rectifying poor drainage on many fairways and hopefully restore the financial well-being of the club.Upheaval caused by drainage works is no longer a serious problem with today’s precision machinery. The fairway will need to be closed while the actual drainage operations are in progress but can be reopened for play immediately afterwards. David Shelton is managing partner of Shelton Sportsturf Drainage Solutions based in England. The business has 30 years of experience in fine turf drainag and manufactures a wide range of equipment. For more information, phone 01507 578288 or visit www.sheltonsdrainage.c

New Products

Drum cutter attachments from Atlas Copco Canada

April 22, 2014 – Atlas Copco Canada has added a range of drum cutter attachments to its line of construction tools. Eight new DC models provide cutting widths from 18.9 inches to 48.8 inches (480 millimetres to 1239.52 millimetres), and are ideal for a wide variety of applications such as narrow trenching and precise profiling of rock or concrete.The drum cutters are a complementary product to the company's hydraulic breakers and offer an additional solution for softer rock applications, up to 987 atm (100 MPa), according to a company press release. www.atlascopco.ca 

Mulcher head delivers fine mulch for ground cover

March 10, 2014 – The St. George Company, through its SGC Attachments division, is distributing the Seven E series line of carbide hammer mulchers for hydraulic excavators.The Seven E Series mulchers feature a close ratio carbide hammer configuration and replaceable internal beater bars, resulting in long hammer life, lower required horse power and the production of fine Class 1 mulch.  Other features include oversized, external-loading main bearings, a fully enclosed body of Domex steel with hydaulic operated gate and skid pads made from .79-inch- (20-millimetre-) thick Hardox steel.  There are four model ranges in the Seven E series, fitting hydraulic excavators from five to 40 tonnes, with mulcher widths of three, four, five and six feet. Wood material up to a maximum 10 inches can be mulched. Fixed and variable displacement hydraulic motors are offered. www.sgc-group.com 

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