The Amenity Sprayer Operator of the Year Awards, sponsored by Syngenta and ICL (formerly Everris), highlight the exceptional skills and experience of all those involved. The winners have demonstrated best practice for effective results and, above all, safe spray application in amenity situations.
Dan Lightfoot, Syngenta UK Business Manager, visited the winner of the amenity turf boom sprayer category, Andrew Kerr from West Malling Golf Club in Kent.
"We recognise that the skills of the operator are paramount in achieving the best possible results," said Dan. "The Awards are a welcome way to recognise and reward the leading individuals and to learn from their experience"
Andrew is Course Manager of the two 18-hole parkland courses at West Malling. Sharing his tips and practical ideas that impressed the judges could help other operators and greenkeepers to get the best out of every application.
Amenity Forum Chairman, Professor John Moverley, added: "The ASOOTY Awards has judged all aspects of amenity spraying to identify the UK's very best operators. It is designed to share their skills and expertise across the industry."
"It has been evident that all the entrants have consistently shown outstanding skills and work to very high standards, to achieve the best possible results. The selected finalists have proved worthy winners by demonstrating that best practice can deliver efficient, cost effective and accurate amenity spraying."
|Andrew has checked the water volume marks of the sprayer tank are accurate for the amount being filled. The sprayer is always parked on the same level area for filling. Best practice is to fit a flow meter on the water filling hose, to check exactly how much is going into the tank. That is particularly important if the area to be treated often varies, when selectively treating just a few susceptible greens for example - see the 'Top Tip' for measuring greens area||Andrew's sprayer is regularly serviced to keep it in good condition. Although the machine is several years old, a good operator is still perfectly capable of achieving very high levels of accuracy, providing wearing parts are replaced when necessary. Annual NSTS certification checks it is all working well||Auto-rate controllers that adjust application rate to forward speed have helped immensely with improving spray accuracy. Checking they are functioning correctly is an important element of the maintenance and calibration regime. Forward speed can be checked using a free app on a mobile phone with GPS - which is a useful tip if you haven't an accurate speedo on the sprayer|
Nozzle selection is a critical part of accurate application, delivering the appropriate water volume at the required speed to hit the intended target. Andrew typically uses a water volume of 200 l/ha for foliar applied products, such as Primo Maxx or Instrata fungicide, whilst soil uptake nutrients would be applied at up to 600 l/ha to penetrate through the sward.
Syngenta Turf XC Nozzles produce the optimum spray droplet spectrum and reduce the risk of drift loss. Nozzles are checked regularly for output and pattern, and the whole set changed with any sign of wear. Complete spare sets of nozzles should be readily accessible if required
|The concrete pad filling and wash-down area at West Malling has a self-contained draining system, with any rainwater or washings from the area collected and pumped through a bio-clean system. There is no risk of spillage or residues reaching the groundwater. Gates are shut off to prevent any golfers or public entering the area during the filling process||The filling area should also have a spill kit readily to hand in case of concentrate spillage. Sawdust is good, but even better is a bag of cat litter from a pet store which is highly absorbent and holds the liquid; it can be swept up with a dedicated dustpan and brush and put in a labelled plastic bag for disposal. A dedicated spill kit costs less than £5, but could avert a serious problem from a spill|
|West Malling's chemical store has really good clearly labelled racking that keeps bottles off the floor. Stock is rotated to ensure part used product is used up and any older product used first. Syngenta products are date stamped at bottling that helps with store management||A solid secure door keeps products safe, with clear signage as a designated pesticide store for emergency services. The concrete block walls protect from extremes of temperature that can affect product formulations. Ideally an automatic frost protection radiator would reduce risk of extreme low temperatures. Note the doorway has a concrete block bund to prevent any loss from potential spills||A whiteboard keeps an up to date stock list of what is in the store, including part bottles. It is mounted on the wall outside the store, so there is no need to open up to check what is inside|
|Personal protective equipment (PPE) is kept easily to hand. If there is more than one operator, it is convenient to have a dedicated set of equipment of the correct size. All staff should be aware of PPE requirement for handling any pesticides used||
Knowing the area you are spraying is essential in calculating tank mix requirements, and for checking the accuracy of application rates.
Courses can be professionally mapped, but GPS technology such as a Garmin and even an app on a mobile phone can give excellent results. You can also accurately calculate areas from Google maps and free web software