Hopefully, we are now seeing the back end of this winter's weather. It has been the harshest ever, certainly in my working lifetime. Golf clubs and sports facilities were closed for weeks, with a virtual permafrost biting into the top few inches of the ground, coupled with some copious amounts of snow.
Even when we've enjoyed (the right word?) a milder break, the thawing out of the immediate surface has created even bigger long-term problems, when players have been impatient to get back out and play their respective sports. It can't be overstated enough, that clubs need to be aware of the damage likely to be caused when the surface is defrosting. Managers, Bursars and Chairmen need to be educated to understand that the ground needs to be back to a state of free draining before sport can start again.
I spoke with some of the Premier football and rugby guys, and many had had little time for holidays through Christmas and New Year, due to the constant work involved in clearing snow and pulling frost protection sheets on and off their pitches. Many training grounds were unusable, leading to first teams training within the undersoil-heated main stadiums. All of which has resulted in significant wear and damage to the main pitches.
A huge well done needs to be expressed to those involved in keeping sport going through these last couple of months.
As, hopefully, we step quickly towards spring, there is much more to be encouraged by. The recession, firstly and most importantly perhaps, is coming to an end (allegedly) and secondly, the guarantee of warmer temperatures gives the opportunity of growth and recovery.
We are continuing to front the 'No More Agro', campaign and, in the issue of our magazine, there are more articles explaining the reasons of high costs to companies of registration and re-registration of the Active ingredients (AI's) used in amenity sector pesticides.
The campaign has also opened a can of worms on the message boards and articles, published both in the magazine and on-line. There will certainly be a number of directions in which we can pursue the Crop Regulatory Directorate (CRD), formerly PSD, and the Crop Protection Association (CPA) to open up this fiery subject.
We are keen to help everyone in the industry understand the implications of non-approved use, from a regulatory point of view, as well as 'duty of care'.
I believe that, very soon, 'Grandfathers rights' will be withdrawn as an accepted reason for pesticide application, so anyone using controlled chemicals will need to be fully licensed.
We, as an industry, have to be vigilant in our chemical use, and not only prove to the EU that we can handle and apply them safely, but that we only use approved chemicals fit for purpose.
Whilst, in this issue, we bring two good articles to the table regarding the registration costs, we will, through this year, also look to see whether there are ways in which the cost of products can be reduced to the end user.
As usual, this edition is absolutely packed from cover to cover with the industry's leading information, articles about turf and turf practitioners. I hope that you find enough time to read it.
Fingers crossed for an early start to spring!