Super nozzles will make skiers faster

Skiers in Norfolk can go even faster thanks to a brainwave by crop protection specialist Nigel Riches. He had the idea of using special spray nozzles designed to protect crops on the Norfolk Ski Club's drop slope at Trowse.

Skiers in Norfolk can go even faster thanks to a brainwave by crop protection specialist Nigel Riches.

He had the idea of using special spray nozzles designed to protect crops on the Norfolk Ski Club's drop slope at Trowse.

Mr Riches, who is the club's vice-chairman, is also trials manager for the independent farmer-owned research centre at Morley, near Wymondham.

"I was day-dreaming and had a flash of inspiration when I was driving down the A14 one day. Why not use the new Hawk nozzles to spray water on the ski slope because they're so much better? By sheer chance, I'd happened to see some of these nozzles and thought, I wonder."


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He asked a friend, Darryl Shailes, who advises farmers on crop protection for Wisbech-based HL Hutchinson, is he could get hold of the special nozzles.

"So, we stuck a couple in and everybody said: 'Hey, they're great. They do spread the water lower and wider than the ones we're using. The old ones used to chuck it straight up in the air."

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A proper trial was carried out at the ski club, which is one of the largest in the country with about 4,000 members.

The nozzle's precise spray characteristics have also proved ideally suited to wetting the surface of the dry ski slope - giving a smoother and faster ride.

The angled nozzle was developed by Syngenta Crop Protection and manufacturer Hypro-EU to help cereal farmers get enough herbicide spray on tiny black-grass weeds often as thin as a paperclip.

The 40 degree forward-angle spray - ideal for treating tiny weeds - also deposits twice as much spray as a vertical nozzle, said Syngenta's specialist, Tom Robinson.

Now, a total of 120 nozzles have been installed between the diamond-shaped artificial surface on the ski slope, which produces a film of water to lubricate the slope's surface. In this way, friction is reduced and skiers get a smoother, more snow-like ride, said Cambridge-based Mr Robinson.

"To make the slope faster you have to irrigate it," said Mr Riches, who tests farm inputs for The Arable Group. And he is hoping this his 18-year-old son, Stuart, who is the club's champion, can use home advantage at this weekend's British Artificial Sky Championships on the egde of Norwich.

Mr Shailes, who is also the club coach and chairman of the instructor's committee, said that combination of the nozzle's angle and finer droplets improves skiing performance.

"You get better lubrication on the brushes," said Mr Shailes. "We don't get the dry patches, so it's easier to ski on, is faster and you don't damage the skis so much. A lot of my growers use all sorts of Syngenta nozzles," he

added.

It is the only slope in the country using these special nozzles.

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