It really is time to change your mindset

Dave Saltmanin Editorial

The past few weeks has seen a plethora of turfcare professionals thrust into the limelight. Some sought publicity, others did not.

Perhaps the most heartwarming story was that of the Suffolk groundsman who scooped a million on the lottery, whilst the ongoing saga at Hull City regarding the dismissal of two of the grounds team is unfortunate, at best.

And what was the sacked Derbyshire CCC groundsman thinking when he vandalised the pitch out of revenge, getting caught on CCTV into the bargain? Did he think they wouldn't recognise him?

Then there's the two SCH Supplies delivery drivers who, at two separate incidents, rescued drivers from vehicles that had crashed on motorways - one from a Ferrari that, soon after, burst into flames, and the other from an overturned HGV. Both men deserve a medal.

Perhaps the most disturbing news was that of Bath Racecourse, who had to cancel a meeting 'last minute' due to chafer grub damage on the final bend before the home straight. At what cost, I wonder? Especially the national coverage it received alone.

Back in the spring, one of my colleagues wrote an insightful article titled "someone will lose their job over this" in which he discussed the withdrawal of chlorpyrifos and imidacloprid products and the options now available to control leatherjackets and chafer grubs.

He stated that a change of mindset was required - before it is too late - but, judging by the comments seen on social media, it is already too late for many.

Miracle cures have been suggested, from washing up liquid to insecticides to beer slops to garlic. Whilst some of these may work in the short term, they will not get rid of the problem. Indeed, they may prove to be an expensive waste of time.

As things currently stand, nematode treatment is the only legal option available and, whilst they are undoubtedly expensive by comparison to chlorpyrifos or imidacloprid products, they have been proven to be effective, as numerous case studies will testify.

If changing the mindset of the turfcare professional is important, then so too is that of management. As has been shown at Bath, losing a meeting is damaging to the coffers; much more so than the cost of the available treatment, i.e. nematodes.

It makes little sense, to me, for clubs to be cancelling fixtures or meetings, or losing valuable members, when the answer is right in front of them.

The industry has known about the withdrawal of 'silver bullet' products for a good while, and has also been given plenty of valuable advice about how to tackle the problem. That many have chosen to ignore it is concerning.

Surely now is the time to consider an integrated pest management plan. Sure, it is more complex than chemical controls, but there really is no alternative. As my colleague said in his article, doing nothing is not an option.

Dave Saltman

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