From the Experts: Tools for Topdressing
- Topdressers are available primarily in two forms: as drop units and as spinners. While smaller, drop-style topdressers were once the main option, Troy Carson with Toro says that the introduction of larger broadcast-type topdressers, especially the larger 100-cubic-foot spreaders like the Toro MH-400, has allowed sports turf managers with multiple fields to much more efficiently topdress their fields. Still, he notes that “drop-type spreaders are still preferred in areas where there’s a defined edge that you don’t want to throw any topdressing material beyond, like in a stadium or along an edge of baseball or softball infield.”
- Turfco’s Mete-R-Matic XL uses a chevron-pattern belt and is one example of a drop-style topdresser. “The benefit of that is it can handle wet material, or material that has more organic content – all the way up to even compost – and you’re going to get an even spread throughout,” says Turfco’s Scott Kinkead. Drop spreaders can also apply calcined clay on ballfields and crumb rubber on synthetic turf fields. Especially for sports turf managers with only one or two fields to maintain, this type of unit makes sense. Spinner topdressers, such as the company’s large CR-7, typically offer wider coverage but with less precision than drop units.
- Dakota Peat & Equipment makes two models of topdressers – models 412 and 414 Turf Tenders – that are designed specifically for use on sports fields – these topdressers are larger than many made for the golf industry. Rather than being built to fit on the back of a utility vehicle, for example, these are larger, 5-yard tow-behind units that can hold more sand. “If you’re going to topdress a whole sports field, you’re going to have to put down [several] tons of sand, and this makes the process faster,” Dakota’s Randy Dufault explains. And they’re just designed to spread sand, rather than including features found on many golf course topdressers, such as equipment to fill bunkers.
- Another difference between topdressing golf courses and sports fields, says Mike Viersma with contractor The Viersma Companies, is that with sports fields, compost is usually a big part of the topdressing program. For that reason, manufacturers such as TurfTime have created a wider gate to allow the topdress to be spread easier. That’s less important when sand is the predominant material, as is often the case on a golf course. As a contractor who topdresses many fields, Viersma uses TurfTime’s largest model, the TT-3065. Most sports turf managers with multiple fields would be better suited with something like the company’s mid-sized TT-2400 series models. “Typically, around 2.5 to 3 yards of capacity is a good size for a municipality,” he explains.
Read more about the hidden benefits of topdressing.