Educating the next generation
by TurfPro Editor, Laurence Gale MSC, MBPR
Laurence Gale MSC, MBPR

Last week saw the launch of the Bernhard Academy at the company’s factory facilities in Haverhill, Suffolk, which is set to become a hub of learning and knowledge.


Following on from my previous blog which considered the importance of who the next generation of horticulturalists and turf and amenity managers may be, I believe this can only happen if we have a strong culture and appetite for training and learning.

The sportsturf industry is widely renowned for passing on its skills and experiences. For many years, individuals have benefited greatly by this method of learning. Coupled with the fact both the two industry organisations BIGGA and the IOG, along with many colleges and universities, have provided an excellent platform for people to gain relevant qualifications for their chosen careers.


However, we must not forget the many hundreds of employers, who support these training and educational opportunities, along with a number of manufacturers who themselves have set up and sponsored some wonderful student training programmes over the years.

One such company who has been at the forefront of sponsoring and setting up training initiatives is Benhards under the direction of their chairman, Stephen Bernhard, who has always championed the benefits of learning the skills of our unique turf grass industry.

For many years the company have worked in partnership with BIGGA to sustain their annual Golf Industry Show (GIS) delegation trip to America, enabling ten greenkeepers a trip of lifetime giving them a unique opportunity attend the GIS Show and visit a couple of golf courses.

In total Bernhards have over the years enabled over 180 greenkeepers to attend the GIS show and benefit from this unique trip.



Bernhard and Company Limited are one of the leaders in the sharpening systems market and one of the world’s most influential forces in the presentation and quality of turf grass. In the USA they are in 75 of the top 100 golf courses, and over 65% of the World Top 100 golf courses.

They continue to support and develop research and education programmes, and understand better than most the relationship between sustainability, conservation and a keenly run maintenance department. Over the years the company has worked at many of the many major golfing tournaments that include the Masters, US Open and the Ryder Cup to name a few.

Their company dates back over 150 years. The relationships they have built up over the years support their work and their ethos of ‘excellent products, unrivalled service and the key focus on money saving maintenance’ has without doubt kept them at the top of this ever growing and changing market place.

On 11th June 2019, I was invited to attend the opening of the company’s latest initiative the new Bernhard Academy at the company’s factory facilities in Haverhill, Suffolk.

The Bernhard Academy is set to become a hub of knowledge for the turf industry and a centre promoting learning and development across the globe. In addition to promoting education to UK turf specialists, the Academy will develop a training programme for Bernhard’s distributors from across the US, Asia and Europe to help enhance their knowledge of turf health solutions.

Working in partnership with Mow-Sure Training Ltd, the Academy aims to train customers, technicians and distributors’ sales team to promote turf health, cutting precision and superior playability and eventually to get the most out of Bernhard’s product portfolio.

The accredited training will be delivered in several formats at the purpose-built facility at Haverhill, including hands-on training, theory or online learning. A wide range of modular and short courses is planned, with the two signature courses being a Turf Technician Course and a Turf Manager’s Course.

On arrival we were given a tour of the 35,000 sq ft factory facility that was opened in 2012 that is home to the design team, manufacture of the Express Dual and Anglemaster Grinders and the training centre of the company.



Once we completed our tour of the facility it was time for the official opening ceremony that was compared by Steve Nixon, company Director who thanked everybody for coming and introduced Stephen Bernhard to explain why the company had invested in this new Academy.


Steve Nixon

Stephen first spoke of his passion for the company and how its mantra for training and education had played a key part in the development of the company. The company has given him the opportunities to develop his products to fulfil the needs of sports turf industry, primarily to maintain and manage natural grass playing surfaces.

Stephen stated that the idea for an academy was first muted by the Americans some 15 years ago. However, it was not until he had the backing and confidence from fellow directors, Steven Nixon and Iqitdar Hassan, and the fact that the timing was right, to launch this new Academy scheme.



It was then left to the Guest of Honour, Samantha Stutt, Head of Membership Development at BIGGA to officially open the Academy. Samantha is no stranger to education and learning, having spent the last 26 years working for BIGGA, developing their Continue to Learn programme. That now sees over 3000 delegates attending the training and education opportunities at each year’s BTME show.


TurfPro: Bernhard's Academy Launch

I would like to thank Bernhard’s for inviting me to attend the formal opening and I am sure it will develop and become a fine asset for both the company and all those who are privileged to attend this excellent facility. Those who do attend will no doubt become one of the new generation who, in years to come, will endeavour to pass on the extraordinary and demanding skills of a turf professional.

Team selections leaked online
Brighton & Hove Albion FC

It was widely reported last week that three members of Brighton & Hove Albion FC's ground-staff team were dismissed over the leaking of team selections - but were allegedly denied disciplinary hearings.


It was widely reported last week that three members of Brighton & Hove Albion FC's ground-staff team were dismissed over the leaking of team selections online - but were allegedly denied disciplinary hearings.



The BBC was one of many media outlets to report on the story. In their report, it was said that as well as the denial of hearings the dismissed staff also were not given reasons for their sacking.


The GMB union is quoted in the BBC report saying the dismissal "stinks" and called for Brighton to reinstate workers.


The Premier League club said it does not comment on "matters which it regards as confidential".


Brighton announced team selections were being leaked from October 2018.


The BBC quotes ex-deputy head groundsman Ashley Smith, 34, as saying he was taken into "private meetings" and questioned along with his colleagues from April.


The meetings were not recorded and the employees were allegedly told "they were helping with the inquiry".


"It was a dream job that has been taken off me for no reason," he is quoted by the BBC.


"I have a family mortgage and it's going to have a massive impact on my whole life. I haven't been sleeping since."


Also quoted in the report is GMB branch secretary Mark Turner, who says "No evidence has been found or presented by the club during this near three-month investigation which links our members to the supposed social media team leaks, yet they dismiss our members without notice.


"This just stinks and considering this club prides itself on its commitment to the standards, values and expectations set by the Premier League, the way they have treated their staff throughout this witch hunt is simply deplorable and unfair."


The GMB and Mr Smith said the workers had appealed against the decision and union is taking legal advice.

Tickets now on sale
Dan Walker

This year's event takes place on Wednesday October 30 at The Vox, located in Resorts World at the Birmingham NEC, on the evening of the first day of the SALTEX exhibition.


Tickets are now available for this year’s Institute of Groundsmanship (IOG) Industry Awards - which this year will be hosted by the BBC’s Dan Walker on Wednesday October 30 at The Vox, located in Resorts World at the Birmingham NEC, on the evening of the first day of the SALTEX exhibition.


Dan Walker


The IOG say the awards - now in their 11th year - have continually grown in status for acknowledging the achievements of volunteer and professional grounds teams, as well as community clubs and national stadia.


BBC sports presenter and BBC Breakfast anchor Dan Walker will be hosting this year’s event as the 20 award categories are presented. He currently hosts BBC One’s Football Focus and regularly presents Match of the Day. He has also covered Wimbledon, The Grand National, Royal Ascot, The Derby and the Six Nations, as well as continuing to work on domestic, European and international football. He has also co-hosted Open golf coverage for the last 10 years and was an integral part of the BBC's Olympic broadcasting team for both London 2012 and Rio 2016.


Tickets cost £95 each for IOG members and £190 each for non-members -  contact the IOG by email (awards@iog.org) or call 01908 312 511 to book.


It’s not too late to nominate an individual or team for a 2019 Award. Visit: www.iog.org/awards and click the nominate button. This year’s categories include:

  • IOG Toro Most Promising Sports Turf Student
  • IOG Rigby Taylor/Top Green Young Grounds Person
  • IOG Volunteer Sports Grounds Team/Individual
  • IOG NGB Community/Grassroots Sports Club Grounds Team/Individual
  • IOG AMS Robotics Public Sector Sports Grounds Team
  • IOG Bowling Grounds Team/Individual
  • IOG SCH Supplies Best Managed Artificial Surface
  • IOG Ransomes Environmental and Ecology Strategy
  • IOG Headland Amenity Professional Cricket Grounds Team
  • IOG Cub Cadet Infinicut Professional Tennis Courts Grounds Team
  • IOG John Deere Professional Horse Racing Grounds Team
  • IOG Professional Rugby Football League Grounds Team
  • IOG Compo Expert Professional Rugby Football Union Grounds Team
  • IOG Professional Football Grounds Team (For English Leagues 1 & 2, National League, National League North/South, Scottish Championship & Leagues 1 & 2, Ireland & Wales Professional Leagues.)
  • IOG SGL Professional Football Grounds Team (For Premier League, Championship and Scottish Premier League.)
  • IOG Redexim Charterhouse/Kubota University/College Grounds Team
  • IOG Growth Products Independent School Grounds Team
  • IOG SISGrass International Award
  • IOG Grassmaster Outstanding Achievement Award.

There is one additional award for which nominations are not sought: the IOG Ransomes/DLF Alex R Millar Award – to the person chosen as the outstanding winner across all award categories.


The NGB Awards are sponsored by the AELTC (All England Lawn Tennis Club), ECB (the England and Wales Cricket Board), The FA (Football Association), the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association), the Premier League, the RFU (Rugby Football Union) and the RFL (Rugby Football League)

Building "small, specialised" dealer network
Corvus UTV

A new British company headed by Phil Everett, BOSS ORV, has been formed to introduce, distribute and support the Spanish-made Corvus 4x4 off-road utility vehicles in the UK.


A new British company, BOSS ORV, has been formed to introduce, distribute and support the Spanish-made Corvus 4x4 off-road utility vehicles in the UK.


Headed by managing director, Phil Everett, ex of Polaris Britain, Boss ORV will officially launch three models at the outset: TerrainDX4 EPS, TerrainDX4 PRO EPS and TerrainDX4 CAB EPS.



The company will launch these vehicles in early September but there will be an opportunity for a preview on the Ace ATV stand this weekend at the Royal Three Counties Show (14th -16th June) and next week on the ATV Services (Scotland) stand at the Royal Highland Show (20th - 23rd June).


Speaking to TurfPro last week, Phil confirmed they currently have three dealers signed up, the aforementioned Ace ATV and ATV Services (Scotland) as well as Johnston Tractors.


“In the meantime,” said Phil “we will be building a small, specialised dealer network throughout the UK to offer customers the highest level of service and support. We've already had some great conversations with several dealers and we'll be looking to make some more key appointments."


Phil continued, "We’re proud to be able to offer the Corvus range in the UK.”


The Corvus main construction facility is in Murcia, Spain with an area of 25,000m² dedicated to manufacturing and assembling, using their own parts and components: gear box, transmission, chassis and technology systems. The company is part of the Tuxton/Yanmar group so it’s a natural fit to marry up the normally aspirated, inline 3-cylinder 993cc Yanmar Diesel engine. The engine is Euro 6 compliant, leading the Corvus programme of designing systems for reducing emission levels. All the above mentioned Terrain models are homologated to T1b tractor regulation and have a top speed of 40mph/65kp/h.


Corvus are building the Terrain for work primarily in agriculture, livestock, forestry, turf care and construction but say they are highly adaptable vehicles ready for any demanding off-road workout.

Designed for both residential and commercial
ESP-TM2 irrigation controller

Rain Bird have launched their new Wi-Fi ready ESP-TM2 irrigation controller.


Rain Bird say their new Wi-Fi ready ESP-TM2 irrigation controller has been designed for both residential and commercial applications.


The company say it is simple to use, offers highly flexible watering schedules and water saving features. End users and contractors can select exactly the right controller to tailor irrigation to the varying needs of different areas, zones and plant types within a landscape.


Filling a gap between Rain Bird's ESP-RZX 4/6/8 zone controller and the ESP-ME controller with up to 22 stations, the new ESP-TM2 models are available with four, six, eight and twelve stations. There are three individual programs for each controller and up to four independent start times for each program in order to offer users flexible irrigation scheduling.


The controller's large back-lit LCD display gives good visibility in low light or bright sun. Quick programming can be undertaken in just three steps for ease of set-up. The turn dial is easy to navigate and simple to set for automatic and manual irrigation, date/time, run times and seasonal adjustment which allows easy reduction or increase of watering.

Advanced programming features include Permanent Days Off to postpone watering schedules when maintenance is planned or alternatively this facility can be used to set odd/even or cyclical irrigation schedules. Watering can be delayed up to 14 days and automatically resumed after the set delay has elapsed. Furthermore, a Contractor Default™ setting allows the user to save and restore a custom irrigation schedule easily.

There is an option to add a Rain Bird WR2 or RSD-BEX rain sensor to shut off irrigation in the event of rainfall, but a by-pass is also available for any station, giving the user or contractor the ability to customise which stations react to the sensor. There is also a one-touch manual watering facility.

For off-site management and programming, real-time alerts and the use of other advanced water management tools, ESP-TM2 controllers can be enabled for Wi-Fi remote control by iOS and Android mobile devices. This is achieved by plugging in Rain Bird's separate LNK WiFi module into the controller's accessory port. The readily available Rain Bird App can then be used for all remote programming and irrigation scheduling - particularly useful for contractors who manage installations and can save significantly on site visits.

Internet-based weather information can also be used, allowing daily adjustments to be made to the irrigation schedule in accordance with forecasts, potentially offering 30% water savings.

The ESP-TM2 controller can be installed indoors or outside and operates at 230 VAC @ 50/60 Hz. Operating temperature is up to 65°C.

Husqvarna Automower installed
Husqvarna Automower at Blenheim Palace

The robotic mower, provided by dealers Toad Hall Garden Machinery, is tackling a newly reclaimed area of grass that was previously very challenging to maintain using conventional means.


Arguably one of Britain’s finest stately homes, a master piece of English Baroque architecture and residence to the 12th Duke of Marlborough. Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, is now home to a British-built Husqvarna Automower.


The robotic mower was installed recently in its very grand location to tackle a newly reclaimed area of grass that was previously very challenging to maintain using conventional means.


Blenheim Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage site and was the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. It is the only non-royal residence to carry Palace status in the UK. The 2,000 acres of gardens dating back to the 18th Century were designed by renowned landscape architect Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown - a small section of which the Automower will now maintain.


The mower was recommended to Blenheim Palace’s head gardener, through another high profile Stately Home. Hatfield House in Hertfordshire employs a fleet of the units to maintain the formal lawns around the house. The Blenheim Palace enquiry was handled via local Husqvarna Dealer, Toad Hall Garden Machinery, Oxfordshire and supported by Husqvarna UK.


Installed in early June, the robot is now maintaining the sloping grass area leading down to the Palace’s 160 acre lake, dating back to 1768. The low noise levels ensure that the machine can work away without disturbing paying customers visiting the Palace.


Blenheim Palace joins a growing list of high profile UK commercial locations adopting the Husqvarna Automower to maintain areas of grass. Andrew Lees, UK category manager for lawn products commented, “We are seeing a real appetite for Automower from the commercial sector and Blenheim Palace is another high profile example which has adopted robotic mowing for green space management.”



Andrew added, “We have a strong belief in our robotic range and high profile commercial installations like Blenheim Palace and others only help reinforce this with end customers. This can only have a positive impact on the development of both the commercial and domestic markets for Husqvarna Automower and for our Authorised Dealer network.


"What is really pleasing is the diversity in the type of commercial customers that are now using Husqvarna Automower to maintain green spaces. The product itself and the results it produces have a very positive impact in marketing the concept, a lot of the interest has been driven by word of mouth and recommendation. The conversations between Hatfield House and Blenheim Palace are very good examples of this and we have more in the pipeline off the back of this.”

Confirmed as latest dealer
David Dixons have taken on Etesia

Dealership will be distributing Etesia’s complete product range throughout the North East of England.


David Dixons has been appointed as a new Etesia dealer and will be distributing the company's complete product range throughout the North East of England.


Based in Hexham, Northumberland, David Dixons have been suppliers, service engineers and advisers to the arboriculture and horticulture industries for over 37 years.



The company will now be supplying the complete range of Etesia ride-on mowers, scarifiers, brushcutters, green technology and pedestrian mowers, and Julian Weightman, dealer principal at David Dixons, is delighted with the announcement.


“We had a good chat about the products with Etesia, I could see the advantages that the products offer and it just went from there,” he said. “I am confident that the products are going to be popular with our land owner clients and our professional users who are wanting machines that perform day-in day-out consistently.”


With immediate effect the range of products will be available from David Dixons in the areas of Northumberland, Gateshead, Tyne & Wear, and Middlesbrough and up to the Scottish borders.


“From our point of view as a dealership, we are interested in selling quality equipment,” said Julian. “We are interested in working with customers that we are going to be working with for 20-30 years and Etesia’s equipment is perfectly built to last and that fits very much in line with how we operate our business. We want to sell quality that will last customers a long time and do the job well and that is where Etesia comes in.


“On the face of it Etesia may appear expensive but when you look at the life you will get out of the machines - then I know that our customers will get excellent value for money.”

Terra Firma and Greenlay
Pellenc have taken on two new dealers

Both newly appointed dealerships will be distributing the full range of Pellenc professional battery powered equipment.


Pellenc UK has welcomed Terra Firma and Greenlay to its ever-growing dealership network; both of which will be distributing the full range of Pellenc professional battery powered equipment.



Terra Firma, part of Agrovista UK, is quickly developing into one of Scotland’s largest specialist suppliers to the amenity and local authority markets. After going from strength to strength over recent years and significantly expanding its machinery portfolio, the company prides itself on providing only the finest equipment and products and this means that they have to be very selective according to sales advisor Allan Wright.


“We have no ambitions to become a normal grass machinery company,” he said. “It is for this reason that we are expanding the range of specialist equipment we offer and Pellenc is a perfect addition.”


Allan claims that his mind was instantly made up as soon as he saw the products being demonstrated.


“We organised a few demonstrations and it was obvious that these were the kind of products that would be incredibly hard to not take on-board especially with the green credentials and the low vibration and noise levels."


Greenlay, based in Cramlington, Northumberland has been serving both the professional and domestic turf markets since 1971. Boasting a 2000sq ft showroom displaying a huge range of equipment, the company strives to ensure that the customer gets the best machine for the job at all times and sales administrator Harry Pattinson is delighted to have added Pellenc to the collection.


“We never thought the opportunity would come about so we were delighted when we were approached by Pellenc,” he said.


“It has so many benefits and I particularly like the fact that the battery can be transferred from different machines. The power on the equipment is instantaneous and the performance is very similar to two stroke. Yes, the price might be slightly higher but because you are not using fuel you will find that it does pay for itself very quickly."


“Pellenc is aimed at the professional market which we want to continue to grow in, so it absolutely suits the quality product range that we already offer here at Greenlay.”

With immediate effect the Pellenc range from Terra Firma is available in the areas of central Scotland, the Scottish borders and the west coast; while Greenlay is distributing the Pellenc equipment to Northumberland, Tyne & Wear, Co Durham and Teeside.

Attempting another mower pushing world record
Andy Maxfield and the John Deere lawnmower, preparing for his world record attempt on Saturday 22nd June to push a walk-behind lawnmower as far as possible in 24 hours at Ewood Park, home of Blackburn Rovers Football Club

HMP Kirkham prison officer Andy Maxfield from Inskip in Lancashire is aiming to break the Guinness World Record for pushing a walk-behind lawnmower as far as possible in 24 hours.


HMP Kirkham prison officer Andy Maxfield from Inskip in Lancashire is aiming to become a double world record holder this month, by breaking the Guinness World Record for pushing a walk-behind lawnmower as far as possible in 24 hours.


Andy Maxfield at Ewood Park


The record attempt will take place this coming Saturday (22nd June) at Ewood Park football stadium in Blackburn, Lancashire, the home of his beloved Blackburn Rovers Football Club.


In July 2017 Andy Maxfield achieved a world record by driving a John Deere X750 lawn tractor from John O'Groats to Land's End, a distance of 874.3 miles, in five days, eight hours and 45 minutes. Not content with one record, Andy is now embarking on his second challenge, ‘Football United against Dementia’, once again raising money for Alzheimer's Society.


The current walk-behind mower record stands at 57.6 miles (92.71km), but Andy is hoping he can beat that with a John Deere R40 pedestrian lawnmower supplied by the company’s dealer Balmers GM in Burnley. This is a standard push petrol mower, with a 40cm cutting width, Briggs & Stratton motor and tough polypropylene deck.


Andy Maxfield outside Balmers GM in Burnley, with Darren Evans, homeowner sales manager


“I had a John Deere ride-on mower for the John O’Groats to Land’s End journey and it never missed a beat, so a John Deere walk-behind for the lawnmower challenge seemed the obvious choice,” says Andy. “It’s not the mower I’m concerned about. I’m definitely going to need my go-faster trainers to maintain the pace!”


After the record attempt Balmers GM is donating the mower to be raffled in a further boost for Andy’s fundraising for Alzheimer’s Society. The raffle will be drawn on the John Deere stand on Thursday 11th July at the Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate.


As a keen football fan, Andy is contacting football clubs around the country asking for their support. “My fundraising target is £9200, which might seem an unusual amount but there are 92 league football clubs in England and Wales and of course the existing record is just over 92km. Football fans are generous as well as competitive. It would be fantastic to see a wide and diverse range of teams – even from across the world – visiting my JustGiving page and leaving messages of support.”

Simon Phillips, general manager of Balmers GM, adds that the company is delighted to be helping Andy. “Initially we were asked to lend him a lawnmower, but when the idea of a raffle was mentioned, we were happy to step up and donate it. We will give the mower a service between the record attempt on 22nd June and the draw on our stand at the Great Yorkshire Show in July, so it will be good as new!”


Alzheimer’s Society is a charity close to Andy’s heart. His father suffered from Alzheimer’s for 13 years and sadly passed away on 1st Jan 2018, unaware of Andy’s record breaking journey from John O’Groats to Land’s End.


Sue Swire, community fundraiser for Alzheimer’s Society in Cumbria & Lancashire, adds: “This is another amazing challenge by Andy to raise money for Alzheimer’s Society and unite against dementia. Dementia devastates lives, but dementia won’t win. Funds from this record attempt will help us move a step closer to a world without this cruel disease.”


Alzheimer’s Society is available for anyone affected by dementia and there are lots of ways the charity can help – for details call the National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 1122 or visit www.alzheimers.org.uk.

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Find our previous features here
TurfPro Feature Archive

If you want to catch up with any of TurfPro's previous features, here is the place to do so.

Dry weather conditions continue to keep turf managers focused on moisture management


Death of Wimbledon’s influential grounds manager


At Top 100 classic Berkhamsted Golf Club


Investment paying off at Kenilworth Road


At Castle Bromwich Hall Gardens


The vital impact of parks and green spaces on health and well-being


Without carbendazim


Battery-powered outdoor power tools are now turning the heads of professionals


Sand-based pitches are now the norm in professional sports


We must maintain industry standards


11 things you need to know . . .


Q&A with BASIS ceo, Stephen Jacobs


Hosted at research trial grounds in Bingley


Leicester City FC invest in new role


Mick Hunt bows out after 49 years


Is it really necessary?

Catch up with Laurence Gale's recent blogs
TurfPro editor, Laurence Gale

Want to catch up with one of editor Laurence Gale's blogs? Here is the place to do so.


We must inspire and recruit a new generation of turf professionals


Better understand the soil / water relationship


Ever changing playing surfaces


Turf professionals have a vital role


Rugby renovations


Renovating grass surfaces


April is a busy period


Trees bring real benefits to our cities, health and well being


Choice of fertiliser products will be influenced by many factors


But we need to be encouraging the next generation


Facilities must not be taken for granted


Plenty of work for turf professionals to be getting on with


At the Dennis & Sisis groundcare seminar


A cause for concern


Seek advice from industry bodies


February is a good time to start planning


Great start to the year


Harrogate time again


Benefits for pitch sustainability


Opportunities & challenges in 2019


View all of 2018's blogs here

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Garden Trader
What does it all mean in managing turf surfaces?
by Professor John Moverley, Independent Chairman of the Amenity Forum
An integrated approach

In tackling the management of amenity spaces and turf, we are all asked to take an integrated approach and deliver plans to do so. But what does it all mean?


The word integrated has become very popular of late in government circles and certainly at DEFRA; not as much as BREXIT though but that is a whole different story. In tackling the management of amenity spaces and turf, we are all asked to take an integrated approach and deliver plans to do so. But what does it all mean?

Back to Basics



The answer is simple to say but perhaps less so to implement. It is about getting back to basic principles of good husbandry; not focussing on one solution but, by good understanding and management, creating an environment to minimise weed, disease and pest challenges. The range of chemical solutions available in amenity is sadly diminishing and whilst they will remain an important element in the mix, they need to be part of a complete programme of appropriate grass seed selection, continuing management and understanding soil biology and the important interaction of organisms within it. There are many innovative solutions emerging including biological control but all of these need applying within the total approach of integrated methods and an emphasis on preventative approaches.

Producing and implementing an integrated management plan is not easy. There is no solution that fits all, no common jigsaw puzzle template. The author of this article recently attended a conference focussed upon controlling the effects of chafer and leatherjackets. There were excellent speakers and much to digest. However what was clear was that there is no simple solution and much to learn in deciding upon the right approach for a particular situation.

No silver bullet



Let us be clear, integrated does not mean, no use of chemicals, far from it. However it requires careful thought on the level of control sought and how best to achieve it. It requires a balanced approach. There can be no magical solution. Everyone is seeking a magical solution, yet virtually everyone does not really believe in magic. The magician prepares thoroughly for his or her act and ensures every element is considered and fully prepared and practices thoroughly; this is the same in an integrated approach to disease management.

The approach is one where the outcome required is clearly defined and then all the options available are considered. The emphasis on preventative management requires a fully integrated approach and taking advantage of the rapidly increasing availability of new technology. It certainly is far from easy and brings many challenges but is the way ahead.

Preparing an integrated management plan

The Forum, with partners, is preparing a comprehensive toolkit which can be used by all involved for preparing integrated management plans. We hope that this will be available later in the year. It will seek to provide a valuable guide for practitioners and decision makers, meeting the challenges of maintaining high quality turf areas. The Forum already has a number of useful guidance notes available on its website.

There is a need for communication within the sector to increase understanding, and especially to owners of sports facilities and members who use them. Golfers, for example, expect the very best playing surfaces but there is a real need to increase understanding of what this involves. Those who maintain and manage sporting surfaces contribute to producing safe, healthy amenity areas fit for purpose. What happens in amenity management impacts upon every UK citizen every day. We need to take out that message – good sports surfaces require highly skilled management. There is much greater public and indeed political interest in chemicals used for amenity management and agricultural production. It is important that the amenity sector fully communicates what we do and why. Professionals working in the amenity sector only use techniques which are full proven and tested as safe. Indeed, chemicals used in weed, pest and disease control go through far more stringent authorisation processes than many other household products.

Setting the standard


After much consideration and consultation, later this year, a new national standard for amenity management is to be launched. This will be akin to the Red Tractor in food production, familiar to many when visiting food stores and supermarkets. Holding the Amenity Standard and displaying the logo will show to all that the amenity areas within that area are managed professionally and are safe and healthy, fit for purpose. It is not another assurance scheme but in order to display and hold the Standard, those operating at the sports or amenity facility will need to demonstrate their competence and, as such, will likely be part of a recognised assurance scheme.


Displaying the logo and hence holding the Standard will give confidence to those who employ them and the public that what is being done is fully compliant with regulations and be sure of safe, healthy amenity spaces fit for purpose. Adoption of the Standard will not happen overnight but it seen as a very important step if we are to continue to be able to do our job and retain our enviable reputation for producing and maintaining quality sports areas. We would wish to see the Standard displayed with pride at public and sporting venues, a clear commitment to driving up standards and providing reassurance and trust in those who use our facilities.





Our aim is to launch the new Standard at our conference and exhibition on October 10th at the Pirelli Stadium at Burton on Trent. This conference has become a very much ‘must attend’ for all involved in or with an interest in amenity management. This year the theme is ‘21st Century Management’ , very much that of this article, and is set to be the best yet with some excellent speakers and exhibitors. Further information is available on our website. The Forum also holds free Updating Events across the UK at the start of each year. Video clips of the various presentations in 2019 are available on the Amenity Forum YouTube page.


Amenity management is certainly challenging but that has always been so. It is how we grasp the new opportunities and combine these with our expertise and experience of good husbandry that really matters. Integrated approaches are not really new but certainly the way ahead.