Press Releases October 09, 2020
Scotch College Adelaide: Growing grassroots sports
Crestmead, Queensland (9 October, 2020) – THE rise of women's sport, particularly in Australian Football, while enticing record crowds and media coverage, has perhaps been most markedly noticed at the grassroots level and the people whose job it is to ensure premium playing surfaces.
Scotch College Adelaide Grounds and Horticulture Manager, Peter Harfield, said his field team was thriving on the challenge of more boots on the ground, extra practice sessions and hosting more hard-fought matches throughout the season.
It was Peter's zest for sport, and desire to work outdoors, which led him to his job at the historic school, located about 8km outside of the Central Business District, which is renowned for hosting respected footy, cricket and soccer tournaments throughout the year. In 2020, COVID-19 has caused disruptions, but generally the winter sports program has remained extensive.
"Earlier in the year, in summer, we hosted the Trans-Tasman Quad Cricket Champions, and both the Under-19 and Under-17 Australian interstate cricket championships. So, there is a very good standard of sport being played here," Peter said.
"With women's football now being included even more in the program, this winter there has been extra wear and tear on the fields."
Rather than posing a burden, the additional rips and divots have only fuelled Peter's passion to work harder to maintain the school's sprawling grounds, and to keep the sports facilities in immaculate condition.
Given Adelaide is synonymous with tumultuous hot and dry summers, with an average rainfall of 536 mm, Peter and his team of six groundsmen have their hands full looking after the 20 ha of land, 6 ha of irrigated turf and 149 garden beds at Scotch College.
The school was founded as a memorial to the sons of Scotland who served in World War One, so the pristine grounds hold historic and iconic heritage value. The independent co-educational facility has two campuses, caters for around 1,100 boarding and day students from the start of school through to Year 12, and has an Early Learning Centre.
Taking his responsibility as the steward of these historic grounds onboard wholeheartedly, Peter ensures his crew uses the right tools for the job, and his machinery and equipment fleet includes three John Deere Gator™ Utility Vehicles, a John Deere ZTrak™ Z997R Diesel Zero-Turn Mower and a John Deere 7700A PrecisionCut™ fairway mower.
"Our challenge is in the sheer size of what we look after," Peter said.
"For the fields in particular, it is a job that is never finished. Just when you have perfected one thing, a game will tear it up, whether that be a cricket pitch or an oval, and you have the task to repair it and re-present it all over again.
"And, of course, making sure we have smart use of water is key to what we do."
A PROUD HISTORY
Peter has more than 40 years' experience in the turf sector and has dedicated the last 13 to Scotch College Adelaide.
He has found the most substantial shift in the industry, for growing and maintaining high-quality grass, has been the evolution of technology for decompaction and coring equipment.
In mowing, John Deere has led the charge with advancements in fairway mowers, which Peter said revolutionised many sports fields' presentation and streamlined maintenance schedules.
"John Deere has backlapping capabilities for the fairway mowers, so that means you don't have to pull apart all of the heads to sharpen them, you can do them in place. It's a great way to keep your machine nice and sharp, without having to pull it to pieces and suffer downtime," he said.
The uniform John Deere fleet at Scotch College also helps simplify basic mechanical tasks in the workshop, while advancements in seat suspension have also made for a smoother ride on long shifts.
"Everything is colour coded, including the dip sticks, water, and oil, so it's consistent across the range," Peter said.
"Operator comfort has also greatly improved since I started in 1978.
"The other big leap of progress is in operator vision. You need to be able to clearly see what is ahead of you so no stones or sticks can go through the mower and cause damage, and working in a school, we are dealing with thrown sticks and stones quite often. The improvement in the view you receive from the seat is terrific."
John Deere's dedication to research and development, especially for safety, is also a pivotal feature.
"With specific pieces of equipment we do our own site assessments, but the R&D from John Deere means we can build on their safety and induction processes to create robust Workplace Health and Safety protocols."
RELATIONSHIPS ARE KEY
Scotch College Adelaide's John Deere fleet is supported by the local dealer, Metropolitan Machinery. Given the breadth of the school's operation, the equipment is upgraded about every five years.
"When we were in the business of replacing some of our fleet, our local John Deere dealership put together a package for us that we couldn't refuse," Peter said.
"It was good equipment, a good price, and a great service and support guarantee. We have dealt with the Norsworthy family over at Metropolitan Machinery for many years, so there was no question in terms of their professionalism. We think they are first class."
Developing key relationships has flowed through to all aspects of Peter's work, and although it was the hands-on nature of the job which first sparked his interest, mentoring up-and coming greenkeepers is now what he enjoys most.
"With the work I am doing now I am helping young people, and other schools around our area, to improve," he said.
"Mentoring and contributing to the education of the next generation which is coming through has very much become my focus, I find that side of it very rewarding."
However, the regular challenges of his job of ensuring pristine fields for Australia's up-and-coming sportspeople continues to keep him engaged and on his toes.
"It's always challenging in Adelaide given it stops raining in about October and then doesn't rain until about Easter," he said.
"But, when we get everything right, it all falls into place and you can look across the grounds on a sunny day and see it's all in first-class condition. That's when you get true satisfaction in what you do."
About John Deere:
Deere & Company (NYSE: DE) is a world leader in providing advanced products and services and is committed to the success of customers whose work is linked to the land - those who cultivate, harvest, transform, enrich and build upon the land to meet the world's dramatically increasing need for food, fuel, shelter and infrastructure. Since 1837, John Deere has delivered innovative products of superior quality built on a tradition of integrity. For more information, visit John Deere at its worldwide website at JohnDeere.com or in Australia at JohnDeere.com.au.