0 Amenity sector facing a real challenge and calls for action

The quality and standards of sports and amenity surfaces in England, and indeed the UK, are recognised worldwide

Amenity ForumThey are the result of high levels of both groundsmanship and green-keeping and the socio-economic impact is immense, whether such surfaces are used for international competition or at a local and community level. These were the words of Professor John Moverley, Independent Chairman of the Amenity Forum, in a recent presentation. He illustrated the major improvements in turf management and the importance of weed, pest and disease control as part of that. The approach taken is very much an integrated one with high quality the result of a wide range of factors, cultural, variety selection and more.

The Amenity Forum is the voluntary initiative for the amenity sector promoting best practice and acts as a unified voice for all aspects of weed, pest and disease control. Its members are committed to continuing to drive up standards and ensure safe and sustainable practices. It promotes innovation and has within its membership organisations developing a range of non-chemical control but pesticides, used correctly and safely, remain an important component in control and often provide the most cost effective solution.

However the sector is facing pressures, not least on the number of chemical actives that it has available to it for control purposes. Whilst pesticides are just part of an integrated approach to control, they remain essential and the sector often feels that there is a lack of understanding by government and regulatory bodies on the continued loss of active ingredients in the amenity market and the issues this is already causing and will cause. A good example is turf insecticides where the two remaining are in stages of revocation and how users will manage pest problems going forward is unknown. Chlorpyrifos has already been withdrawn from sale and must be used by 31st August 2015. Imidacloprid will be withdrawn from sale on 30th April 2016 and must be used by 31st October 2016. The cost to British sport, and the many millions spent by consumers in the UK should surfaces become unplayable, should not be underestimated.

It is also important to view this in a wider context. Whilst a particular active previously used to achieve leatherjacket control on turf is now withdrawn, it can still be used in agriculture. As one head greenkeeper said, ''We are of course committed to best practice and public safety will always be paramount, however it seems strange that I cannot use a product this autumn to control the ravages of leather jackets whilst my farmer neighbour can. Yet we need to maintain the surface quality and just now I am not sure how. We are of course seeking to take an integrated approach and only use pesticides where required but in this case, it is required''

The Amenity Forum will continue to engage with all involved to emphasise the socio economic impact of weed, pest and disease control. It represents the interests of all in the sector with a wide cross section of membership and including all the major representative organisations as well as those developing non pesticide solutions. However the challenge is now and it is important that everyone understands the impact of actions being taken too quickly and not to the benefit of society as a whole.

On October 15th, the Amenity Forum is holding its annual conference at Leicester City FC, an event when leading speakers will address the key issues and a time to network and visit the adjoining exhibition area. It is very much a must attend event for all in the sector and with interest in it.

Duncan Jones from Hortech explains his reasons for attending as '' We attend the conference because it sets the tone of debate surrounding amenity herbicides and weed control strategies. As a responsible contractor we must be part of the debate and the conference gives us that opportunity''

Stephen Jacob from BASIS Registration says '' The Amenity Forum Conference provides a unique opportunity to network with the key industry leaders''

For further information and to book your place, contact conference@amenityforum.net

Due to support from our member organisations, delegate rates are being kept as low as possible at £50 per head (with discounts for early booking!)

John Moverley, Independent Forum Chairman, says ''This year, even more than previous, is a time to attend this event, not just for the quality of information and networking available, but also so we can send out a strong message of the sector commitment to best practice, the vital importance of the work undertaken and the real professionalism''

Further information on Forum matters can be obtained by contacting Alan Spedding at Alan.Spedding@amenityforum.net or accessing the website at www.amenityforum.co.uk

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