Really? Does it have to be this way?
Pitchcare Technical Manager James Grundy says that a change of mindset is required to achieve success against leatherjackets and chafer grubs
Biological control through the use of entomopathogenic nematodes is the only legally available option in regards to chafer grubs and leatherjackets in turf surfaces across the UK. Nematodes, when used correctly as part of an integrated approach, have proven to be successful over a number of years.
A successful outcome with nematodes requires a greater depth of knowledge and a greater number of considered steps than a simple chemical approach of: see, decant, apply, kill - (old model).
An integrated approach requires knowledge of the pest's life cycle, the control's life cycle, establishment of acceptable thresholds of pest incidence and damage, highlighting of priority zones for treatment, monitoring of the pest life cycle, key timing of the control and knowledge of the specific factors required to promote the best outcome, all backed up by subsequent monitoring of efficacy. The sum total of which is nicely logged and recorded to assist in future decision making and forecasting of activity - (new model).
In the end, all that is meant by an integrated approach is multiple strategies working collaboratively to achieve a given outcome.
One of the major justifications for the unsuitability of biological controls is cost. It is true to say that biological controls are more expensive than chemical controls. However, that is compounded when they are judged against the old model; that is to say, treat everything, kill everything, job done.
The new model requires monitoring, establishment of thresholds and targeted application to highly vulnerable or high priority areas. For example, in reality, do all greens need to be treated or are some greens or fairways more prone to infestation, whilst others historically go relatively untouched? As a result, those are the areas we treat as part of an integrated approach and we closely monitor the others.
Written down, an integrated approach might seem overwhelming when compared to the old model. The human disposition in such circumstances is invariably to recoil and dismiss as 'too difficult!' The subsequent reaction to this mindset is to sow self-justifying thoughts as to why this was the correct conclusion for the brain to have come to.
The next step is to seek justification for this approach by seeking the validation of others to further cement the mindset. We then engage in conversations with others who hold a similar opinion and we embark upon a festival of agreement; the result being that we collectively feel satiated and justified in our approach and opinions.
We tell ourselves; we did all we could do, it wasn't our fault, we're not to blame, we took the right decisions and there was nothing else we could have done to effect a different outcome. The added danger being that those who do hold different opinions keep quiet, they falsely agree with our opinions for fear of not singling themselves out and provoking conflict, or they act the same because they have a vested interest in maintaining an harmonious relationships with us.
It is then, that appropriation of blame for a given situation is transferred externally; it's the legislators, it's the chemical companies, it's the chafer grubs, it's the crows and badgers who are to blame and there is nothing else which can be done.
And, thus, the rallying calls start. The legislators need to bring back chemicals, companies need to develop alternative controls, someone (else) needs to come up with a solution!
But why? Solutions already exist, that is not to say that other solutions are not being actively investigated, but any that do come will be closer to the new model than the old model.
The truth is, however, that none of the steps in the new model are difficult, they are all well within the realms of ability for any turf manager, greenkeeper or groundsman. Rather than difficult, the new model is complex and, rather like 'cost' and 'value for money', the two should never be confused.
1. needing much effort or skill to accomplish, deal with, or understand.
"she had a difficult decision to make"
synonyms: hard, strenuous, arduous, laborious, heavy, tough, onerous, burdensome, demanding, punishing, gruelling, grinding, back-breaking, painful;
1. consisting of many different and connected parts.
"a complex network of water channels"
synonyms: compound, composite, compounded, multiplex
"a complex structure"
Read the descriptions and synonyms above and observe how each makes you feel.
Does 'difficult' evoke feelings of impending stress and problems to be overcome? Does it create barriers in the mind to achievement? It is likely that your brain defaults to focusing on the obstacles to overcome; obstacles which will be … difficult.
It is equally likely that, from reading the definition and synonyms, you perceive complex as more optimistic. Does it instead evoke feelings of creativity and positive challenges to be embraced and overcome?
"Balancing a pencil on its tip is difficult; building a LEGO® model of the Death Star® is complex"
"Rocket science is complex; it is rocket engineering which is difficult"
If areas are being damaged due to insect pest infestation consider these questions…
• Could I have done more?
• What are the future upcoming industry issues?
• Am I adequately prepared and confident in my understanding of the required approach to tackle those upcoming issues?
• Is my mindset closed, focusing only on the 'difficult' or is it open, more focused on 'opportunity'?
• Am I courageously making a conscious, bold effort to engaging with my peers and industry, or am I clinging to a comfort zone and passively seeking answers from a small pool of people who visit me?
• Have I been invited to or had opportunity to attend meetings and seminars proffering knowledge which I have turned down?
• If I have turned down opportunities, what are the brutally honest fundamental reasons why?
• If those reasons are due to hierarchical priorities as I see them, is that perception in my long term best interest?
• What are the self-justifying thoughts I have told myself to justify not proactively seeking answers to upcoming challenges?
No one is going to say that the new model is as simple, cheap or precisely as effective as a dose of chemical insecticide. However, the reality is that this is the situation we are in and it is not going to change anytime soon. The further reality is that, in the majority of situations, biological controls, when understood and implemented correctly, are an effective and cost effective solution as part of an overall integrated approach. They also happen to be preferential for the health of people and the environment.
With a number of similar issues on the short and medium term horizon, (carbendazim withdrawal, fungicide restrictions) there are number of lessons to be learned from the furore around insect pest control.
Now is the time for honest self-reflection and preparation to enable you to carry forward a positive mindset. We must collectively embrace the upcoming issues, not as difficulties but as challenges and opportunities for personal growth and innovation, with the aim of such an approach being to equip oneself with the knowledge and understanding to proactively manage these and future issues effectively.
"We are never as annoyed when we are annoyed at ourselves; however, the answers invariably lie within"
Please read these two articles for further information:
JULY 2016 - Chafers and Leatherjackets - The Munch Bunch!
SEPTEMBER 2013 - Treating Chafer Infestations with Nematodes at Ashburnham
Our sister company, ALS, are running a series of Breakfast Seminars over the coming months.
The first of these takes place at Warrington Golf Club on 9th May.
Integrated Pest Management by James Grundy
Our Technical Manager James Grundy will be talking through Integrated Pest Management and the practices available to manage your turf, in the wake of pesticide revocations.
Biostimulants and Turf Nutrition by Dr Russell Sharp
We have also specially invited Dr Russell Sharp as a guest speaker to discuss turf nutrition and the use of biostimulants.
The programme finishes mid-morning and is followed by a site tour.
Other dates include:
7th June - Long Ashton Golf Club, Bristol
26th July - Pennard Golf Club, South Wales
6th September - Worcestershire Golf Club
4th October - Highcliffe Golf Club, Dorset
8th November - Trevose Golf Club, Cornwall
Further venues and speakers will be announced over the coming weeks and will be posted on the Pitchcare and ALS websites