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16 Apr 2019
This Week’s Hot Threads September 4, 2018

Multi-task tool for landscaping and groundskeeping

Part of the AP Series of STIHL Battery Products, the KMA 130 R KombiMotor gives professionals the ability to trim, prune, edge, clean, cultivate, and more with 13 optional attachments—all without gas, fumes, or exhaust emissions. The versatility of this multi-task tool makes it suitable for landscapers and groundskeepers alike.multi-task tool

“The battery-powered STIHL KMA 130 R KombiMotor can power up to 13 existing STIHL KombiSystem attachments, the same attachments available for the gas-powered Kombi system,” said Mike Poluka, product manager at STIHL Inc. “With one powerhead, professionals can streamline their operations by saving on storage space and maintenance of multiple units.”

multi-task toolThe external AP Series battery source delivers professional-grade power for extensive use on a wide range of applications. It shifts the battery weight to the user’s back or hips, ensuring a lightweight, comfortable, and balanced position, regardless of the attachment being used.

multi-task toolThe KMA 130 R KombiMotor features quiet operation enabling it to be used during extended hours, such as early mornings, evenings, holidays, and weekends. Instant starts allow quick movement from one task to another, and the variable speed throttle trigger has three performance levels so the user can select the operation speed that’s best for the job at hand, conserving battery energy and providing maximum run times. Level 1 is 0 -6,300 RPM; Level 2 is 0 – 7,200 RPM; and Level 3 is 0 – 8,500 RPM. In addition, the commercial-grade, brushless electric motor offers optimal performance and durability for a virtually maintenance-free service life.

multi-task toolThe KMA 130 R KombiMotor includes a straight, solid steel drive shaft with a lifetime limited warranty; a multi-function control handle that can be adjusted with one hand; and an ergonomic rubberized loop handle for efficiency and comfort. The unit’s toolless quick-release coupling system makes it easy to switch between Kombi attachments and allows the multi-task tool to be dismantled into two parts for easy transport and storage.

The KMA 130 R KombiMotor’s water-resistant design offers landscapers the versatility to operate in wet or rainy conditions and complete tasks with fewer weather delays (STIHL AR backpack batteries are suitable in rainy conditions when used with a rain cover). A vertical hanging slot provides convenient, easy storage.

Batteries, chargers, attachments, and accessories must be purchased separately.

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15 Apr 2019
This Week’s Hot Threads September 4, 2018

Get Ahead Of Landscape Trends With Propane Powered Equipment

From emissions regulations to high gas prices, propane powered equipment can provide a wide range of benefits.

Commercial propane mowers are no longer a niche product for environmentally-minded professionals in the turf and landscape maintenance industry, but rather a well-established alternative to gasoline and diesel. Propane now fuels more than 27,000 commercial mowers across the United States at the start of the 2019 cutting season, and a dozen mower brands produce more than 150 propane mower models in a variety of zero-turn, wide-area, and stand-on units.

Several trends in the past few years have led to this increased adoption of propane equipment in the industry, including an increasing demand for environmentally-friendly services from consumer customers and public agencies operating their own fleets or bidding out maintenance work to contractors. This is all in addition to high summer gas prices. Not only are these trends going to continue affecting landscape contractors, use of the alternative fuel will continue to provide solutions to meet a wide variety of challenges.

Propane can meet demands for reduced emissions.

Sustainable and environmentally-friendly services, treatments, and designs have been on “top trends” lists from the National Association of Landscape Professionals for several years now and aren’t likely to go away. In fact, in a 2018 survey conducted by the Propane Education & Research Council, a quarter of landscape contractors who responded believe the number of their customers requiring alternative fuels will increase in the next three years. Nearly a third of landscape contractors who responded have also considered using propane mowers.

Propane mowers aren’t just good when it comes to reducing emissions; they frequently meet or exceed current emissions standards for commercial mowers. Contractors using propane mowers reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17%, nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions by 19%, and sulfur oxide (SOx) emissions by 16%, compared to when using gasoline mowers. These chemicals are all major contributors to ground-level ozone that can cause breathing difficulties and worsen pre-existing conditions such as asthma or chronic respiratory infections.

In communities with “ozone action days,” contractors can continue to mow with propane equipment when gasoline or diesel machines would otherwise be sidelined. In addition, the EPA recognizes propane as a non-contaminant of the air, water, and soil.

Propane mowers also have clean claims over battery-powered equipment. Considering site-to-source emissions, propane is responsible for far fewer SOx emissions than electricity with approximately 30% of the U.S. still relying on coal-fired plants, according to the Energy Information Administration. Propane cylinders can also last nearly 30 years and be recycled at the end of their lives. By comparison, batteries are considered a hazmat material and may require additional costs for disposal.

propane powered

Rotolo Consultants, Inc. in Slidell, LA uses nearly 100 propane-powered mowers in its fleet. The landscape company is also transitioning close to 100 of its fleet vehicles to propane autogas. Shown here are two of Rotolo’s propane-powered mowers alongside a propane autogas truck.

 

Propane can reduce fuel costs.

Although gasoline prices at the start of 2019 were very low, shifts in the global fuel market along with U.S. demand have steadily increased the average national cost by 44 cents since January 1, 2019, according to AAA. The high gasoline prices of summer 2018 left a lasting memory with many contractors, and forecasts from GasBuddy are calling for gas prices to approach $3 per gallon at the height of the summer work season again. Fuel is often one of the largest portions of a contractor’s budget — and work can’t be done without it.

Contractors looking for long-term cost solutions will find that propane is consistently less expensive than gasoline because of several factors, even when the price of gasoline is low. For starters, the price of propane traditionally falls between the prices of natural gas and oil, which greatly limits market price fluctuations compared to the wild price swings that gasoline and diesel often have in a given season. Additionally, the majority of the propane supply used in the United States is produced in North America, providing cost stability even when global fuel markets fluctuate.

Creating a fuel contract with a propane supplier can also secure a set price for a period of time. This is a sure way to relieve the headaches associated with budgeting for fluctuating gasoline costs.

Propane can be a one-fuel solution.

It isn’t just with commercial mowers that landscape contractors can take advantage of propane’s benefits. Contractors may even be able to go from juggling multiple fuels to finding a one-fuel solution with propane.

Contractors using battery-powered equipment may observe challenges with keeping batteries charged throughout a day or needing to carry as many as five batteries. Instead, adding a small propane inverter generator to a truck or trailer can provide contractors with portable power that can take care of in-the-field charging.

Contractors can also use propane autogas vehicles to reduce emissions and fuel costs. Propane autogas vehicles produce up to 22 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline vehicles. The alternative fuel can be used in a number of light- and medium-duty trucks, vans, and chassis models thanks to the versatility of the many EPA- and CARB-certified propane autogas conversion kits.

propane poweredAlthough it’s no secret that the green industry faces new changes and challenges, by adding propane equipment to a fleet, contractors can find themselves moving ahead of competition and costs.

Wishart is the director of off-road business development at the Propane Education & Research Council. He can be reached at jeremy.wishart@propane.com.

Contractors can register for a free webinar presented by PERC and Turf magazine — “Why the Growth of Propane Deserves Your Attention,” on Thursday, April 25, 2019. Learn more and register here.

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11 Apr 2019
Landscape Students Compete In Annual NALP Competition

Stormwater Drainage Tools App calculates runoff and offers solution

NDS, Inc., a provider of drainage and stormwater management solutions, has launched a mobile app for contractors, civil engineers, landscape architects, and DIY homeowners. The “Stormwater Drainage Tools” app calculates stormwater runoff and determines requirements for implementing a variety of drainage solutions.

Stormwater Drainage ToolsThe Stormwater Drainage Tools app includes NDS’ complete product catalogs for drainage, stormwater management, irrigation, and flow management. It features an easy-to-use calculator that determines runoff in gallons per minute and cubic feet of water per second as well as required pipe diameter for any given drainage need. It also includes a separate calculator for determining the number of dry wells needed for detaining collected stormwater and the type and size of drainage pipe needed based on area size and surface type, the depth and thickness of gravel backfill, and the slope of drainage pipe. In addition, the Stormwater Drainage Tools app links to “Where to Buy” information for purchasing products.

“Our mobile app provides an easy and quick way for determining the amount of water draining from a property and the various ways water can be efficiently stored or managed,” said Sharon Vessels, vice president of marketing and e-commerce for NDS. “The financial cost of a drainage problem can range anywhere from several hundred to tens of thousands of dollars to fix a wet basement, a soggy back yard, a compromised house foundation, or a washed away landscape—which is why it’s important to spot drainage problems early and fix them correctly. With one click, our app connects you to information about drainage products and provides access to our bilingual Technical Services Team who can answer questions—via phone or e-mail—about diagnosis and installation. We are evolving this tool based on contractor feedback and will push an update to the market by July 2019 that will include more powerful diagnosis and installation tools.”

The human health costs of poor drainage on a property can be significant:

  • Poorly drained runoff from roofs can enter basements or flow inside homes through foundational cracks or leaks where it can warp floorboards and turn finished rooms into disastrous, mildew, and moldy messes that can attract insects and rodents
  • Outside, inadequate or non-existent drainage from gutter downspouts can also create standing water that can harbor breeding spots for mosquitoes that carry West Nile virus, Zika virus, and heartworms

A French drain is a trench filled with gravel, rock, or a gravel-free alternative containing a perforated pipe that directs stormwater away from a specific area, blocks the passage of excess debris, and collects water over the entire length of the drain instead of one particular spot. NDS offers two French drain products, called EZflow and EZ-Drain, that are all-in-one gravel-free alternatives to a traditional French drain. EZflow is available in 5′ lengths; EZ-Drain is available in 10′ lengths. Both products feature a slotted pipe surrounded by a polystyrene aggregate enclosed in a geotextile mesh. The aggregate increases void space for improved water flow and greater storage while offering greater structural integrity than gravel. Both products are ideal for retaining walls, foundation and footing perimeter drains, landscape drains, and sports fields.

Dry wells capture, filter, and discharge stormwater into the subsoil, reducing pollutants, helping replenish groundwater tables, and managing stormwater close to its source. Used independently or as part of a larger stormwater management system, dry well units can meet a variety of project needs and accommodate higher volumes of water. NDS offers a dry well product, called Flo-Well, that holds up to 50 gallons of stormwater per unit and is a gravel-free alternative to a traditional dry well without requiring heavy equipment for installation, saving time and labor. Flo-Well is a 2′ round barrel made of 100% recycled plastic materials that is easily assembled and placed into a hole. A lid is then placed on the Flo-Well to prevent dirt from getting inside. The side panels have knockouts that remove to allow for a wide variety of pipes to be connected.

The NDS Stormwater Drainage Tools mobile app is available for free download at Apple’s App Store and Google Play.

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10 Apr 2019
Landscape Students Compete In Annual NALP Competition

A Technological Break-Through In Sustainable Lake & Pond Management

By Bo Burns

Algae: it comes in many forms and colors. It’s slimy, stinky and can ruin the beauty and function of your golf course lakes and irrigation systems. It’s also one of the oldest known organisms on this planet, which might explain its knack for survival, even under the toughest conditions. Over time, golf courses and property management companies have learned to pick sides when it comes to the safe eradication of stubborn and harmful algal blooms—some in favor of natural management techniques; others in support of applying EPA-registered algaecides to ensure the job gets done. But this year, a new game changing technology will make the management of stubborn algae blooms a no-brainer with more long-lasting results that are beneficial for the environment.

algae blooms

Before Nanobubble Aeration.

Nanobubble aeration is a premium innovative technology designed to exceed the capabilities of traditional lake and pond aeration systems by providing up to 79,000x more oxygen! Put simply, nanobubbles are like traditional aeration systems on steroids. Produced by compact on-shore generators, these ultra-fine bubbles are completely invisible to the eye and about 1 million times smaller than ordinary bubbles. As a result of their tiny size, nanobubbles have no natural buoyancy and do not rise to the surface of the water and burst like you might expect. Amazingly, they remain within the water column for up to 2-3 months, providing unparalleled oxygenation to struggling lakes and ponds at your property.  

algae blooms

After Nanobubble Aeration.

The benefits of a continuously oxygenated lake or pond are enormous. First, oxygen is a key player in the battle against undesirable nutrients by facilitating the conversion of phosphorus to forms that do not sustain algae development. Excess nutrients can easily enter golf course lakes and ponds in the form of grass clippings, lawn fertilizers, trash, and droppings from geese and other wildlife. The presence of oxygen also helps to balance pH and other related water quality parameters that encourage the growth of fish, native organisms and beneficial phytoplankton – rather than detrimental bacteria like E. Coli, and cyanobacteria species that can be toxic to humans and wildlife and are believed to contribute to degenerative diseases like ALS, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Another amazing benefit of nanobubbles? In addition to engulfing an entire aquatic ecosystem in concentrated oxygen, nanobubbles are negatively charged and, therefore, attracted to positively charged organic matter in the water column. When they connect with positively charged metals and pollutants, including dangerous cyanobacteria toxins, nanobubbles cause them to implode(!), holistically cleansing the waterbody from the inside out.

algae blooms

Before Nanobubble Aeration.

This innovative water quality solution did not just appear overnight. Nanobubbles have been used in the medical field, the oil and gas business, food preparation areas, and even the beauty industry for purification purposes. However, SOLitude Lake Management is the first environmental firm to advance this technology for large-scale freshwater management applications through continuous research and development with select manufacturers and regulatory agencies.

Through many promising tests and trials, we’ve learned some exciting things: Golf course superintendents and property managers who utilize nanobubbles can expect to significantly reduce and even eliminate reliance on traditional algaecides. Nanobubbles have no negative impacts on turfgrass or ornamental vegetation when monitoring and managing dissolved oxygen levels. Nanobubbles help strengthen the health and longevity of the entire food chain, providing unparalleled aesthetic and ecological balance.

algae blooms

After Nanobubble Aeration.

Nanobubble aeration isn’t just a quick fix or band-aid; it’s a custom, data-driven solution rooted in years of scientific study and first-hand monitoring experience. The technology doesn’t necessarily replace regular proactive management strategies, but it is truly one of the missing pieces to the puzzle of sustainable freshwater management. Used in conjunction with traditional tools like floating fountains, buffer management, mechanical hydro-raking and regular lake and pond inspections, nanobubbles can help keep your water resources healthier and prettier for much longer periods of time, while eliminating nuisance algae and dangerous cyanotoxins before they begin causing problems.

Nanobubble aeration is poised to transform the entire way we approach the management of lakes and ponds and will be an invaluable tool as urban development and undesirable nutrient loading continue to increase. We’re excited to shepherd this new technology in to the freshwater management realm and look forward to further enhancing water quality on your property   and throughout the world.

algae bloomsBo Burns is a Biologist and Market Development Manager at SOLitude Lake Management, an industry-leading environmental firm. He specializes in the research and development of new technologies using more than 30 years of industry experience along with a Master of Environmental Management degree in Resource and Wetland Ecology from Duke University. This article is the first in a series featuring new break-through technologies that will revolutionize the management of lakes, stormwater ponds, wetlands and fisheries in 2019. 

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09 Apr 2019

Yard shoe is built like a boot but fits like an athletic shoe

The Kujo Yard Shoe from Kujo Yardwear, a startup footwear company specializing in shoes for working in the yard, is a tough, hybrid work shoe. Merging boot-like durable tread and water-resistance with the flexibility and light weight of a breathable athletic shoe—it is built for anti-fatigue wear and all day comfort.
yard shoe
“Hands down these shoes are a game changer for my business and the way we work. We’re no strangers to clunky work boots that become hot and sweaty during the workday. These lightweight shoes have made doing our lawn care maintenance work a breeze,” says Brian Fullerton, owner of Brian’s Lawn Maintenance LLC in Wixom, Michigan.

yard shoeA tough ¼” rubber outsole protects the bottom of the shoe and features 6mm lugs for tough traction and flex grooves for agile mobility. The cushioned EVA midsole measures ¼” thick for enhanced comfort and anti-fatigue. The toe cap is a smooth SPU which resists water and abrasion and has a flex window for increased breathability and agility. The lightweight Transparent Sonic Welds keep the shoe stabilized and supported without the heavy excessive layers. The breathable air mesh canvases the upper to provide airflow while protecting against water and debris with its inner lining. The smart collar lining is equipped with antimicrobial protection and added padding for comfort.

The Kujo Yard Shoe has made the most important tradeoffs to work like a boot and fit like a shoe. This anti-boot has a unique toe-cap that is easily cleaned, keeps feet dry, and repels grass while the aggressive rubber grip was specifically designed for wet, grassy slopes. Lawn care and landscaping professionals have a smart and functional footwear option designed for the outdoor “office”.

yard shoeThe Men’s Kujo Yard Shoe comes in Grey/Green, Black/Green, and Black/Black in sizes 5 through 14. The Women’s Kujo Yard Shoe comes in Grey/Purple, Grey/Green, Black/Green, and Black/Black in sizes 6.5 through 12.5.

While the current model of the shoe is only offered in a soft toe version, Kujo is developing a composite-toe version with higher ankle support that is 100% waterproof for professionals who encounter more than dewy grass or who require safety-toe footwear.

The shoes are available on the Kujo site, Amazon, and Dick’s Sporting Goods.

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