This is our new bagging unit, based in the Sevenoaks depot. At this time of year, it is used especially for 25-kg bags of cricket (Surrey) loam, but it can of course be used for any material going into small bags.
At the back of the picture, you can see a grey bag hanging in place under a small hopper. This is fed with material from a conveyor belt, which is located outside the store, behind the wall. To the right of the bag is a weighing unit which displays how much material has gone in the bag, to ensure the correct fill every time. Once the bag is full, it drops down on the conveyor belt below and is moved, upright, to the sealing unit to the left (the grey box on the wall). The bag is heat-sealed and then moves further to the left and onto the upwards conveyor, ready to be placed onto the waiting pallet. Once the pallet is full, it is moved outside with a forklift and then shrink-wrapped for stability and protection.
The unit can be operated by one or two people, allowing for up to 1,200 bags on 30 pallets to be produced daily.
Here is a picture of some 1,700 tonnes of prime cricket loam (a.k.a. Surrey loam) ready for bagging at our Sevenoaks depot. It will be processed in our new bagging unit, palletised and sent out to waiting customers all over the Home Counties.
But what on earth (err...) is cricket loam and what makes it so special? The ECB (England and Wales Cricket Board) explains it in their maintenance guidelines document, which is the bible for groundsmen around the country.
Essentially, it is a type of topdressing with around 30% clay content, which is used at the end of the cricket season to repair wear and damage to cricket squares. The clay content ensures suitable and consistent bounce during play. A greater clay content gives higher performance but requires more maintenance, as it will be more liable to drying out and cracking. Therefore, the recommendation tends to be for a clay content of 28-35% for first class cricket, but more like 25-28% for school pitches. Ultimately, it is the soil's "breaking strength" which determines its suitability, and this is dependent not only on clay content, but also on the other components of the loam. The guidelines explain how to test your soil - please refer to them for details.
Most importantly, though, the loam applied must be compatible with the existing soil. If not, it will create layers where the different types of soil dry out (and therefore shrink) at different rates. Such layering affects the bounce, is prone to damage and provides an unsuitable environment for good quality grasses. Again, the guidelines explain how to check soil compatibility.
We have been producing and supplying cricket loam to a high degree of consistency over the last twenty years, and have it tested by the STRI to ensure its quality and suitability. This year's supply is now ready to be shipped. Full details on the Bourne Amenity and Gardenscape websites.
Again a crowded field with excellent entries; a special commendation goes to Thomas for supplying a whole file of superb cityscape pictures from the Canary Wharf volleyball job (some of which have been featured here already). I will get a number of them printed up to add to the collection in the office stairway - it will be hard to keep the selection to a reasonable number.
However, the prize goes to Ashley for this effort - the perspective is interesting and it really captures the feel of the big city. And the final touch is how, at the left-hand edge, there is a discreet reference to the Wharf - the Group main address.
Well done to all participants - keep the entries flowing! We have already had a number of contributions in August, which is promising to be an equally close contest. The weather remains superb for bright photography... though some pictures of logos reflected in rain puddles would be welcome for more than one reason now!
There will be a prize-giving ceremony in the yard here at Newenden when we can next get the June and July winners together.