Being a turf manager has probably never been harder than it is today. It is, without question, one of the most challenging roles available. There are so many variables to deal with when presenting a natural turf surface.
The ability to have the foresight to provide the plant's needs for nutrition, battling the increasingly difficult war on pests and diseases and constantly juggling the work plans against unpredictable weather forecasts all add up to a complicated vocation; generally made even harder by the purse string holders.
As we lament the revocation of chemical products from our armoury, there has been much discussion on how we, as turfcare professionals, can continue to maintain and, indeed, improve upon the high standards that we have pursued in recent years.
ITM (Integrated Turf Management) has become a familiar acronym, looking to provide a balance between good cultural housekeeping and minimising the use of pesticides. The use of systems that allow the practitioner to put down preventative chemicals at times of high disease incidence, whilst maintaining optimum nutrients and a solid micro-biology eco-system, should help to combat times of stress.
However, the removal of all our chemical pest solutions has left us with little other than beneficial nematodes to keep pests at bay. There is an excellent article in this issue, written by Dave and John Lawrence at Edgbaston Priory, that covers this subject from their perspective well.
As an industry, it's not like we haven't known it's coming but, to me, this is about what's necessary and what isn't. Our planet is under pressure from pollution yet, because vehicles are a necessity, we don't ban cars and lorries. In agriculture, there is huge pressure to grow more crops for an increasing population, so the use of chemicals, many with the same active ingredients as we have seen revoked in our Industry, remain legal due to the necessity of producing food.
The fact that we are tasked with producing playing surfaces to enable sport, appears not to be deemed as necessary, despite the increasing levels of obesity in our children and young adults. Perhaps the answer is to change all our playing surfaces into synthetic, environmentally unfriendly carpets?
I don't yet know whether we can maintain first class natural turf surfaces without the fungicides, lumbricides and weedkillers that have been a daily part of our lives, but I'm sure that we will strive to work out a solution to help us move forward.
On a positive note, we have at least another five years use of glyphosate to keep the weeds in check.
As I write this, another year is coming to an end. By the time you read this, you'll be sleeping off all that turkey and pudding and getting ready for the start of 2018!
I wish you all a very happy and prosperous New Year.