Dawson’s team making cuts in the right direction

Dawson’s team making cuts in the right direction

As part of Scottish Rugby’s sustainability work in the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) space, one unlikely area of the business has been making strides in doing their bit to help the environment.

Head Groundsman for the Scottish Gas Murrayfield estate, Jim Dawson, has been working for Scottish Rugby for 13 years and most notably through the transition that saw the Scottish Gas Murrayfield bowl change from a grass to a hybrid pitch in 2014.

Recently, Jim and his team of Alex Latto, Callum McMillian and Ben Watt have embraced a significant change in the way they look after rugby pitches on the Murrayfield estate by moving to electric maintenance, in a shift away from traditional petrol-powered machinery.

The Scottish Rugby grounds team have been working with Dennis Mowers for more than 15 years. They have been a market leader in turf-care maintenance equipment for over a century and have helped the team to make the switch to electric battery powered lawn mowers.

During the spring and summer months, the grounds team will cut pitches on the Murrayfield estate every day and even during the winter months, the main bowl pitch will be cut three or four times per week thanks to undersoil heating and grow lamps.

Jim explained: “One of the main reasons for making the switch was that we were using a lot of petrol, we were mindful of the obvious environmental aspects of this as we are trying to get to Net Zero, be lower in our emissions and generally getting away from fossil fuels.”

“[with the old lawn mowers] It would take roughly 10 litres of petrol, across three machines, to do two cuts of the main bowl pitch. Once you start doing that every day you go through quite a bit of fuel.”

Base that on today’s average petrol price of around 149p per litre it’s estimated that it was costing £2682 per year on fuel alone.

Whilst some may have doubts about the power output of an electric mower vs petrol-powered mower Jim explained that they are very efficient. He said: “They are pretty quick at charging, [it only takes 120minutes] and we tend to do it at night, so it doesn’t take up much electricity.

“One lawn mower can cut the whole entire pitch and still have 20% battery power left – so they are extremely efficient, and a fun fact for you cutting the pitch across the way is 14km, cutting it longways is 12km!”

There are also other benefits of using of using battery-powered machinery. The electric lawn mowers are ultra-quiet meaning that other Scottish Rugby departments can go out about their match-day operations without noise disturbance from the grounds care team.

Jim said: “We can go out there and cut the pitch whilst they are still broadcasting without any interruptions, whereas before we would have to wait until they were off-air (as they could hear the lawn mowers in the background) before we could start pitch maintenance after a game.”

Jim says that if you were by yourself cutting a pitch it will take the best part of four to five hours; with three people cutting it will take a couple of hours. Whilst it still takes the same time to cut the pitch (as petrol and electric mowers are the same size) the boxes that collect the grass are far bigger on the electric models meaning that they do not have to stop as often to empty them as with the petrol models.

The electric mowers have also created a more favourable working environment for his team. They are no longer exposed to petrol fumes, they no longer need to wear ear defenders, and, thanks to their ultra-quiet operating noise, they can have conversations with each other rather than shouting across to one another.

Jim says that the team will eventually move all their machinery to electric models, including the more traditional smaller rotary deck mowers they use to clean the pitch before cutting it.

He said: “We call it hovering the pitch. After a game where you might have seen a lot of scrummaging, bits of grass and mud have been dug up so it’s removing that from the surface before cutting the turf again for presentation.”

As Scottish Gas Murrayfield Stadium continues its sustainability journey, Jim says there will be even more electric equipment on the way. He concluded: “The industry is bringing out more and more products that are electric, even the big ride-on mowers they will eventually be electric too, so things are changing and pretty quickly too!”

Spread the word

Newsletter Sign-up

Sign-up for our newsletter today to receive the latest updates, content and releases from Scottish Rugby.


Principal Partners