Alan Abel from Complete Weed Control gives Turf Managers his view ahead of 2017.
The years, when working within the turf and amenity industry seem to go very quickly, as we are always thinking about the next season ahead. Each of the four seasons brings its own challenges, be it weather, fixtures, disease outbreaks, weak sward - the list seems endless.
Turf managers must deal with these issues as they occur. It is no use waiting and seeing. Decision time is now, not tomorrow or next week. 2016 proved to be a reasonable year and the autumn/winter up to now, has been kind to us.
A lot of golf projects have been carried out in dry-ish conditions, which could not have happened in 2015 as it didn't stop raining for three months and the soil had reached saturation point.
So we never know what to expect. There has never been a more challenging time to live through than now. BREXIT seems to be the current buzz word and it is so unclear how it will work out with regards to the UK. The Sustainable Use Directive (SUDs) and our National Action Plan is such an important part of legislation and affects our industry in a big way.
We are losing many important active ingredients and although people may think no one is doing anything about it, this is far from the situation. The Amenity Forum, led by Prof John Moverley, is lobbying government ministers continuously on the sections behalf. As a body, The Amenity Forum is spelling out the problems that are happening in the field, highlighting the continual erosion of our arsenal of substances that we all require to keep our turf in the condition that has come to be expected.
They are explaining how professional we are in the amenity section and highlighting the necessity for the NSTS for sprayers, the importance of the Amenity Assured Scheme, and in general showing our industry in the best light while demonstrating that we are all dedicated to best practice and continual professional development.
On that subject, November 26 has passed, so all sprayers should hold NSTS certificates now. Agriculture HAS been through this development years ago. They have their sprayers checked and tested regularly, and they have had the Farm Assured Scheme running since the eighties. Our numbers in the amenity sector when it comes to BASIS qualifications are woefully low, as is the membership of NASOR or NoRosO. In my opinion, this is what is letting our industry down.
If the Government think for one minute this sector is being neglectful, then we will be under further restrictions. Glyphosate is also very much in the spotlight. There was a meeting in Virginia USA at the end of December made up of scientists making observations concerning the safety of this most important active ingredient.
The world simply cannot afford to be without this herbicide. End of. For your further information, please visit the Amenity Forum website to see the 'Get Moving' films. Update events are taking place in February, March and April which will be "do not miss" events!
So, challenging times lie ahead of all of us endeavouring to carry out our jobs in a professional manner - whether that be groundsmen, greenkeepers or contractors.