2009 will be remembered for a number of different reasons, the main one being our failed economy pushing many to the edge of financial crisis. We have seen golf courses close, companies fold and many highly qualified Greenkeepers and Groundsmen looking for alternative employment as the credit crunch bit hard.
The weather also provided some major talking points too; the coldest winter in twenty years in January/February just heaped further misery on the financial mire, causing facilities to close, resulting in widespread cancellation to sports fixture lists.
The fantastic dry spring seemed to encourage us all, and we looked forward to a long hot (and predicted) summer. That never came, leaving the first class cricket groundsmen working around the clock to carry out mopping up exercises to get the first class games on. More recently, whilst the early autumn remained dry and allowed everyone to complete their renovations, November was one of the wettest months since records began. What was surprising, and incredible, during November was the sheer hard work and determination to get fixtures on. There should be some very big pats on the back for all of you who battled hard to beat the weather.
The changeable weather pattern brings to the foreground the issue of global warming. The governments are keen to proceed with green taxes, reducing emissions and renewable energy production - all of which is very commendable.
Recycling is one of the ways in which we can retain our natural resources and, in the coming months, we hope to announce a full 'closed-loop' plastic recycle scheme for all clubs and venues.
The scheme will mean that all empty fertiliser bags, drums and chemical bottles will be collected to produce 100% recycled new products for use in the industry.
Another initiative that we are starting now is our 'No More Agro' campaign. This campaign, which will be running throughout 2010, is to educate everybody on the safe and proper use of chemicals. Unfortunately, our industry does, occasionally, succumb to the use of 'off label' agricultural chemicals instead of using approved amenity products. The usual defining factor is the price differential but, through a series of articles and education, we will be leading the way to remove the use of non-approved chemicals from the industry.
The short-term financial gain of using these off label products pales into insignificance against the fines and possible imprisonment when people are caught using illegal products.
I've heard all the arguments and would consider myself guilty of occasional use in years gone by. But, like wearing a seatbelt, the application of amenity approved products is now compulsory. If you use any product that has not been registered for amenity use, you are breaking the law.
If a player using your facility were to develop an illness or, God forbid, die, then you will be directly responsible for the use and application of a non-approved substance and the penalties imposed would be severe.
The question that I ask of all of you is, is it worth it in this day and age, for the sake of saving a few quid?
Have a fantastic 2010!