Turf Words - Issue 21 - February 2018

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Glenview School’s new artificial wicket Glenview School in Porirua East is a small school with a big heart and a strong cricketing culture. We heard about its keen young pupils who, despite playing on a hard, uneven mown grass strip, haven’t lost a game of cricket against other schools since 1996, under the enthusiastic coaching of deputy principal, Lester Mohi. Mexteds’ general manager, Cameron Mexted, visited the school, where he donned some pads and gave the youngsters a chance to bowl him out in a bid to persuade him to replace their cricket strip with a new artificial wicket. Cameron was not only bowled out, but also bowled over by the children’s enthusiasm, and agreed to lay down a new wicket with a crushed-lime base layer, and an artificial Tigerturf surface that can be rolled up at the end of the season, when we’ll re-sow natural turf ready for winter sports to be played on the field. Glenview year 6 pupil, Chantelle Faraimo, shows off the bowling skills that have earned her a place in the Wellington under-15 girls cricket, while Yasmin Koro prepares to run.

Lester Mohi is delighted with the results. “It’s beautiful, it’s safe, it’s 25 metres in length, so space for the bowlers and catchers to be comfortable.”

Drainage for Kāpiti Coast’s newest park Team Mexted is working at Otaraua Park, Waikanae, installing nearly 3000 metres of primary drains as part of the development of Kāpiti Coast District Council’s newest park, which will be used for a range of sports over the next few years. The council bought the land with an eye to meeting the needs of Kāpiti Coast’s growing population, and it became a recreation reserve in 2012, having previously been a turf farm and a horse stables. In a win-win, Mexteds is transporting soil from the drains - a nice river loam - to the adjacent Jim Cooke Park, which is being reinstated by Greater Wellington Regional Council after the reconstruction of the stop banks.

A new home for Waimarie croquet club

Installing irrigation lines with a mole plough at Waimarie croquet club No-one knows why the Lower Hutt croquet club was named ‘Waimarie’ - ‘peaceful waters’ - as its location on the wrong side of the Hutt River stop bank at Boulcott has seen its manicured lawns flooded on several occasions when the river rages and it’s anything but peaceful. In 2005, two metres of water brought down fences and dumped silt all over the croquet lawns, with further major flooding since then. But now, after 65 years at Boulcott, Waimarie Croquet Club is on the move to Taita, as the Greater Wellington Regional Council needed the club’s land to upgrade its stop banks. Mexteds was brought in by head contractors, PCL Limited, to convert the disused Taita Bowling Club at Walter Nash Park, a little further up the Hutt River, into five new croquet courts and a practice green.

Mexteds’ first job was to remove the existing topsoil, before installing a full primary drainage system, and 2,500 metres of secondary sand slit drains. We also designed a powerful irrigation system, laying the lines with a mole plough for convenience and speed. Our inhouse irrigation expert, Rob Willis, chose Hunter 995 sprinklers to achieve the 32 x 32 metre coverage required for each court, driven by a Lowara SV015-09 3-phase pressure pump – capable of pumping 180 litres per minute. We then spread topsoil to achieve finished grades, before sowing with a blend of brown top and chewing's fescue. Mexteds will manage the grow-in period, with the greens expected to be ready for play in 2019. This time, the lawns will be on the right side of the stop bank, so the club’s name should finally fit.

Shade survey focuses on grass growth Mexteds is about to begin a one year, monthly survey at Westpac Stadium in Wellington, to map areas of turf that are shaded by the roof during the changing seasons. Turf manager, Hagen Faith, says shade is a challenge all larger stadiums struggle with, but he has a plan to overcome it by managing the growing conditions using a state of the art lighting rig. Westpac will trial the Stadium Grow Lighting system, developed by Dutch company SGL, focusing on areas where our shade survey reveals it’s most needed. The automated system uses both heat and light to aid seed germination and stimulate grass growth, helping to deliver a quality pitch regardless of the seasons and weather conditions. Stadium Grow Lighting is used at other multi-purpose stadiums around the world, including Wembley in London, as well as the major UK and European football clubs.

Ngā Puna Wai - New rugby league fields Mexteds will have a team heading to the Christchurch in February to begin a three-month sports field construction project for the brand new Ngā Puna Wai sports hub. Once built, Ngā Puna Wai will replace athletics, hockey, tennis and rugby facilities lost in the Canterbury earthquakes. Stage one of the complex includes the construction of two rugby league fields and two community fields to be built by Mexted Performance Sports Surfaces under head contractor, HEB Construction. Our surveying staff will be on site by the end of February to begin the set-out, before the operations team arrives to start laser levelling of the subgrade. During the levelling, Mexteds will make use of its recently upgraded Topcon machine control equipment, fitted to our tractors and levelling gear to achieve maximum grading accuracy and efficiency. Our operators refer to a control screen inside the tractor that contains a digital terrain model of the site, and the equipment automatically adjusts the box grader hydraulics according to the position of the levellers in relation to this digital terrain model. This is done through a GPS/GNSS receiver fitted to the blade, which runs in tandem with a GPS laser. Once earthworks are completed for the Ngā Puna Wai sports fields, Mexteds will move on to the installation of 4,000 metres of primary drains, followed by 20,000 metres of secondary sand slit drainage. We’ll then spread and laser level 100mm of turf sand over the fields before grassing, fertilising and managing the grow-in.

Investment in survey gear pays off Mexteds offers a full surveying service and has recently invested in Topcon mmGPS equipment, including a Rover base station. Our tractors and levellers have been set up to be used with precision Topcon machine control equipment, which allows us to achieve maximum grading efficiencies, accurately complete simple and challenging grades, as well as eliminating potential rework or the need for importing or exporting additional material. We can run this gear with lasers, Total Stations, GPS, or mmGPS lasers, depending on the grading tolerances required for a specific site, or according to the client’s requirements. Some of our recent projects show just how diverse this work can be. When building the new lawns for Waimarie croquet club, we surveyed the irrigation lines, then after grading the subsoil were able to quickly locate and raise the buried sprinkler heads.

Machine control sensors being fitted to our land levellers

At Kāpiti Coast Airport we have been working with the client to improve the grass taxi ways, using the GPS system to plot depressions and contours, so that they can be filled with topsoil and graded using machine control on our tractors and land levellers through a GPS/GNSS receiver fitted to the blade.

Ngatitoa artificials and natural turf upgrade

Mexteds’ recent upgrade of Ngatitoa Domain’s lower playing field saw our operations team involved in both artificial and natural turf work on the same job. Porirua City Council decided to reconfigure the domain’s lower sports field, so that it could be used as two full-sized senior winter fields, at the same time solving ponding issues due to an uneven surface. The park is used by Porirua City Junior Cricket and Paremata-Plimmerton Rugby Football clubs, who were thrilled to see the work get underway in October.

Stadium moves The challenges of setting up the Westpac Stadium for different sporting codes has kept Mexteds staff busy over summer, installing and removing the portable cricket wicket, often in quick turnaround times. Wellington Phoenix fixtures have been interspersed with international cricket events, including Blackcaps T20 Tri Series matches against Pakistan and England, and an England ODI match also coming up in March. In mid-March the super-rugby season starts again, and we’ll also be using our Hurrishifter goal post lifter to erect and then lower the rugby posts before and after the games.

Mexteds began by upgrading the cricket practice nets and run -ups alongside the field, before building a new junior grass wicket. The senior cricketers were also catered for, as Mexteds built a new all-weather artificial wicket between the two sports fields (pictured above). The sports field construction involved planing off the surface 20mm, before cutting to fill, re-levelling, seeding and fertilising. Mexteds and the Council jointly looked after the grow in, which meant daily watering as the Wellington region experienced its driest November for 90 years.

Our Workshop - operations nerve centre Mexteds’ workshop staff are a vital part of our operations, keeping our plant and machinery in top condition and ready to perform whenever required. Although winter is a prime time for maintenance and painting, mechanical work continues year-round for our key workshop personnel. Workshop mechanic, Paul Dockery, is seen here overhauling our Maletti trencher, replacing all the bearings and changing oils, to ensure it’s in perfect condition when we begin subsoil drainage work for the Ngā Puna Wai sports hub contract in Christchurch this month. “We need to make sure that it goes to Christchurch and it’s going to do the job in the time that’s been allocated,” says Clayton Tume, our workshop engineer. “The worst thing you can have on these away jobs is break downs.”

Plasma cutter is fast and efficient Our new computerised plasma cutter means we are now able to cut our own blades for various pieces of plant, such as our ecodresser and groover. The gas-driven plasma cutter gives us fast, accurate, and costeffective cutting of steel, which can be selected according to specific requirements to give us the best results for the job. We then hard face the blades so they wear a lot slower than mild or hard steel. “Being able to produce our own blades is an environmentallyfriendly solution,” says Cameron Mexted. “If they wear down we can re-hard face them, which means they are not only more economical, but also longer lasting.” Our workshop engineer, Clayton Tume, uses design software to create a template of the item he

Clayton Tume, our workshop engineer, with bearing rings cut by the plasma cutter wishes to make, then converts it to a file that can be read by the plasma cutting machine. With the press of a button he can carry on with other work while the machine precision plasma cutter produces the required shapes.

Special Olympics upgrade for Newtown #1

The 2017 National Summer Games held at Newtown #1 Park, Wellington at the end of November saw Mexteds on a tight time schedule to renovate the centre playing field when we began work in August. Wellington City Council decided to renovate the field as the drains had failed and there was a build-up of thatch in the sand carpet profile. Our first step was to plane off the top 100mm, before laser grading the subgrade and sand slitting with our custom-built SWM 200 dual wheel trencher. We then sand-carpeted the entire area, followed by dimple seeding with ryegrass and fertilising.

Despite some trying weather conditions during the grow-in period, when Spring winds caused problems with blown sand, the job was completed ahead of schedule, and in good time for the Special Olympics opening on 27 November. Wellington City Council project manager, Peter Hemsley says, “Everything went perfectly until the wind disbursed the seed to the wrong places, but it was all sorted out and it looks really good at the moment.” The National Summer Games are hosted by Special Olympics New Zealand, and this was the ninth time they’d been held in Wellington. It’s now the largest sports event for people with intellectual disabilities in the country.

Ice Hockey’s one night stand Mexteds is very excited to be involved in building an ice hockey rink at Westpac Stadium this winter, when it will be transformed for one night only to host the 2018 Ice Hockey Classic between rivals USA and Canada on 23rd June. It will be the first time an outdoor ice hockey game has been held in the southern hemisphere. Mexteds and the Westpac Stadium grounds staff, along with refrigeration specialists, will have just 72 hours to build, freeze, unfreeze and dismantle the rink, to ensure the turf’s not adversely affected. “Getting the timeframes right is key”, says Hagen Faith, Westpac Stadium’s turf manager. When he was approached to host the event, Faith Rink planning: l to r Paul Kempffer (Toronto), Kerry Goulet (Manitoba), Chris Parkinson conducted some turf trials, (Mexteds), Jonathan Cornford (Melbourne), Cameron Mexted and Hagen Faith (Westpac and then called in Mexteds, Stadium turf manager) who will use their specialised equipment and expertise to help build the rinks required for the ice hockey match, as well as curling and figure skating. The first step will be to lay a plywood floor and geotextile layer, before installing a layer of base material. The base layer needs to be spot on, so the thickness of the ice is consistent and level. We will use turf-tyred tractors and machine-controlled laser levelling equipment to place around 300 cubic metres of base material. Then refrigeration will be installed and the whole area flooded and frozen. Mexteds has recently installed new Topcon mmGPS equipment on its tractors and levellers, which allows us to automatically grade the surface to extremely tight tolerances. Cameron Mexted says for him it’s a dream project. “I spent three years in Canada, where I became a passionate fan of the Edmonton Oilers ice hockey team.”

Telarc certification Mexted Performance Sports Surfaces is delighted to have received Telarc certification this year, after a rigorous external audit of our health and safety, quality and environmental management systems. The Telarc audit was initiated by our general manager, Cameron Mexted, who says “Telarc certification will provide our customers with confidence that our business has an effective management system in place, and that it works.” Telarc is New Zealand’s longest established certification body, and our systems were audited against internationally-recognised New Zealand and ISO standards. “We believe this will give our clients confidence in our compliance and effectiveness,” says Cameron, “and it includes regular reviews of our systems on an ongoing basis.”

Introducing ... Jules de Vries joined Mexteds in July, when his automotive panel and paint training was put to good use during the time of year when we focus on plant maintenance in our workshop, as winter weather often limits outside work. Jules also brings to Mexteds a strong background in artificial turf work, having worked for three years for a specialist synthetic turf company before joining our crew. His skills in this area have already seen him building new practice run-ups and a senior wicket at Porirua’s Ngatitoa Domain. Keen to learn new skills, Jules is now focusing on irrigation work, as understudy to our irrigation specialist, Rob Willis. He’s also recently passed his wheels, tracks and rollers certificates and forklift licence. “I really like it here, it’s a great team and everyone knows what they are doing – it’s well organised,” says Jules. Finbar McGuigan is the newest member of the Mexteds’ crew, having joined us straight from college. Finbar was introduced to Mexteds through the Aotea College Gateway programme, which supports students by linking them up with employers so they can experience industry-based training in an area that sparks their interest. As a keen sportsman, Finbar was keen to find work related to sports fields. The Gateway experience was a success, and after weekly visits in late 2017, Mexteds offered Finbar a permanent position. He began work in January after returning from the Bowls New Zealand National Championships in Dunedin, where he was competing in the open classes. Finbar is one of several young players based at the Plimmerton Bowling Club, which he joined at the age of 11, inspired by his dad who’s also a player, and the convenience of having a bowling club right across the road from his home.

Job opportunities with Mexteds We’re always keen to hear from people interested in joining our operations crew. You may already be working in the sports turf sector as a grounds person, greenkeeper or similar, or have relevant skills working with tractors and other machinery in a different sector, such as farming. Most importantly, you’ll have a great work ethic, be keen to learn and develop new skills and be open to new challenges to further your career in this specialised area of work. Check out the employment tab on our website—under ‘Contact’— or give us a call and have a chat.

Mexted Performance Sports Surfaces | 27 Ulric Street, Plimmerton 5026


PO Box 54-236, Mana, Porirua

P: (04) 233 0703 | Cameron Mexted, General Manager, M: 027 4953 963 | www.mexteds.co.nz