WRAP RESEARCH SHEDS LIGHT ON GREENKEEPERS' CHANGING ATTITUDES TO COMPOST
To coincide with this year's BTME exhibition (BIGGA Turf Management Exhibition), WRAP - the Waste & Resources Action Programme - undertook research* into the use of compost by greenkeepers across the UK. The results of the research demonstrate significant regional variations in levels of compost usage as well as differing levels of awareness of the product's uses in the golfing sector.
The market for compost is growing rapidly and the golfing sector is one of a number of industries where the use of recycled material and resources is generating new interest. Compost, which is produced from garden trimmings such as grass cuttings and leaves, is an environmentally sustainable and cost effective alternative to peat. Compost offers a number of benefits for golf courses including the following:
· Reduced need for fertiliser
· Improved moisture retention
· Disease suppression
· Promotes grass seed germination
· Improved turf quality and grass colour
Maggie Newton, WRAP's Marketing and Awareness Manager (Organics) commented: "The golfing sector is a key target market for WRAP so taking a stand at the BTME exhibition provides us with a great opportunity to raise awareness of the benefits of compost as an environmentally sustainable and nutrient rich product."
In WRAP's research, just over one third of greenkeepers questioned (36%) stated that they use compost on their courses - mainly for mulch, soil improver, top dressing or to repair divots. Of this number, 43% buy in compost and 57% produce their own.
Regionally, Scotland had the highest compost usage with 66% of Scottish respondents either buying in or producing their own compost. In comparison, in the
South West of England and South Wales, 88% of respondents do not use compost, in the Midlands 75% do not use compost and in Northern Ireland, none of the greenkeepers questioned used compost on their courses.
Of all the greenkeepers questioned, only 4% currently buy in compost derived from garden trimmings such as grass cuttings, pruning and leaves, proving that in this particular industry, the use of recycled material has not yet reached its potential.
The main reasons stated for not using this type of compost related to lack of knowledge about the product, uncertainty over where to purchase it, and concerns that the quality might not be of a high standard.
Maggie responded to these concerns: "WRAP is helping to ensure that composted products are of a high quality and, working alongside The Composting Association (TCA), we played a key role in the launch of an industry standard (BSI PAS 100) in 2002 which gives end users the guarantee that the compost is of the highest quality."
"On our website www.wrap.org.uk, we have a list of quality assured suppliers on the Composting Association certification scheme which allows greenkeepers to find their nearest supplier. Visitors to the site can also find out about projects that have already used these materials successfully and download further information about how to get the best use out of compost for greenkeeping and ground maintenance applications.
Maggie added: "Our research has shown that there is still a long way to go before compost is established as the material of choice for the UK's greenkeepers. We would encourage greenkeepers to try the product for themselves to see the range of benefits."
For more information on WRAP call 0808 100 2040 or visit www.wrap.org.uk.
· 59 Head Greenkeepers from golf courses across the UK were contacted as part of this research.
· All respondents were selected at random from the BIGGA Golf Directory 2003/2004.
· The telephone survey was conducted from 8 - 13 January 2004.