At the Amenity Forum Conference 2021
by TurfPro Editor, Laurence Gale MSC, MBPR
Laurence Gale MSC, MBPR

Last week I had the pleasure to attend The Amenity Forum’s annual conference, held at the Pirelli Stadium, Burton on Trent, along with over one hundred industry delegates. As usual it was hosted by Professor John Moverley OBE, Chairman of the Amenity Forum.

As ever, John was proud to be presenting a plethora of guest speakers. In total there where eleven presenters talking on a range of subjects that included an update on the NAP National Action Plan, sustainable use of pesticides, implementing IPM strategies and gaining CPD points.



The morning's first session started with a policy update by Anna Morgan from DEFRA on the Future Strategy and Sustainable Use of Pesticides. Anna spoke about the time scales and the completion of a recent public consultation survey on the revised 25 year National Action Plan which will be published later this year. This was quickly followed by further updates from Adrian Dixon of the Health and Safety Executive’s Chemicals Regulation Division (CRD) who spoke about some of the issues of Brexit and how it may or may not affect our own polices regarding pesticide usage. 



Next was a further update from Jonathan Newman who is the senior policy advisor for the Environment Agency chemicals strategic planning team, who has responsibility for pesticides, biocides and veterinary medicines environmental management strategy. He spoke about water quality issues and gave an interesting talk on the top active approved pesticides that have a potential risk of contaminating water resources here in the UK if not used correctly.


L-R: Adrian Dixon, Anna Morgan and Jonathan Newman 

We then stopped for a tea break allowing delegates to network and speak with many of the amenity sponsors who had stands at the conference. Those in attendance were ICL, JSD Rail, Languard VM, Lantra Awards, Nomix Enviro, Pro Green, Rigby Taylor, Vale, Weed Free, BASIS, City & Guilds, Hortech Ltd, Bayer, Complete Weed Control, Greentech, Headland Amenity, Hozelock and Harper Adams University.


L-R: Dr Colin Mumford and Lewis Blois 

I enjoyed catching up with some familiar faces - especially an old university colleague of mine, Dr Colin Mumford from Bayer. Also Ian Graham and Alan Abel from Complete Weed Control were keen to announce that they had completed a new branding of their company, with delegates at the conference the first to see it. 

L-R: Alan Abel & Ian Graham 

The next session featured the views of a consultant, contractor and distributor who gave thought provoking content on the many issues to consider when using and applying pesticides in different working environments, particularly when working in public accessible areas.

First up was Hui Chen, from the STRI who spoke about the new intelligent ways of recording data and gathering vital information to manage fine turf sports facilities. Using the likes of drone technologies, infra-red thermal imaging and moisture probes.



Richard Stow from Weedfree then gave an insight into the perils of managing local authority contracts. In the main, he said, local authorities are using out of date specifications and are expecting a 95% clean rate on weed control. In most cases this is difficult to achieve with the budgets, time frame and resources  being made available. 

To conclude the morning session before a fine lunch, the ever-present Henry Belchet, from ICL gave a thought provoking presentation on Integrated Pest Management, showing that the combination of a planned approach with the use of both growth stimulants and a fungicide, gave the best control in suppressing turf grass disease on a golf green to below 5%. For most greenkeepers, he said, this is just about acceptable.



John Moverley then announced he was leaving the post of Chairman of the Amenity Forum next year and gave a talk on how he had seen the progress of the Forum during is twelve years in office. He was very proud of what the forum had achieved in that time, especially now they had the ear of policy makers, politicians and DEFRA. This, he said, ensures our industry has a voice and is being heard with regards to the use of pesticides and their legislation.

We then had the presentation of the Sprayer Of The Year awards winners, followed by lunch and the opportunity to network again. 

It was then back to more speakers starting with three educationalists, comprising David Fisher from Lanta, Chris Jones from City & Guilds and Greg Hopkinson from BASIS who spoke about the importance of education and the need to gain CPD points plus the future route to gain viable work related qualifications in the land based industry. 



I was particularly interested in what Chris Jones of City Guilds was saying in terms of a new scheme that will be in place for people comming to work in our industry from 2023. Essentially there are three pathways for young people to now gain relvant qualifications and experience.

A-Levels route, Apprenticeships or the new T Levels City & Guilds awarded contracts to deliver two new T Levels in Agriculture, Environmental and Animal Care.

The introduction of T Levels is an important part of a major shift in the provision of technical education for students post 16, offering an alternative to A Levels and apprenticeships.

These new technical qualifications will form part of the fourth wave of T Levels, which go live in September 2023 for first teaching. City & Guilds have already been awarded contracts to provide T Levels across Construction, Engineering and Manufacturing, and Management and Administration and these new qualifications will form an important part in enticing the next generation of land based professionals.


L-R: Chris Jones, City & Guilds; David Fisher, Lantra; and Greg Hopkinson, BASIS 

The next two speakers Tony Leach and Peter Corbett delivered, for me, two very interesting presentations - one on the Parks of London and the other on IPM strategies.

Parks for London https://parksforlondon.org.uk/resource/good-parks-for-london/ has grown to be the leading strategic voice and champion for London's green space sector. They work with and support London's landowners and managers to share and develop good practice, improving standards and maximising resources.

It represents 33 Boroughs and helps their parks managers find cohesive ways of saving money on many shared practices, whether the borough is an in-house or external workforce. Why reinvent the wheel when it is aready being done? The opportunity for these councils to share and help one another is nothing new, it’s just that Parks for London have made it happen. They are now starting to see the benfits, they say, of this colloboration between all 33 Boroughs.

Peter then gave us a presentation on Amenity Management Techniques and their environmental impact on vegetation management. Basically taking everthing into account, he showed the results of a scoring system to validate the best method of eradication of weeds on hard surfaces.

With several methods of action :- rating them against operator cost, cost of goods, efficiency and capital to set up scoring ratio of between 1-6 with a combined total score for each being 

  • Physical (hoe)  26
  • Physical (mechanical) 29
  • Spray  (glysophate) 24
  • Spray (alternative) 37
  • Thermal (flame) 51
  • Thermal Water / Foam 50 

After evaluating the cost of carrying out the task, taking into account all the above aspects, the use of glysophate used properly is the most “sustainable” vegetation management technique available at this peresent time. 



It was then left to Karl McDermott, head groundsman at Lord’s, to give the final presentation of the day. He focussed on his own professional career and how he rose through the ranks to take up the most prestigious job in cricket.



A fitting end to a well-attended Amenity Forum Conference. 

In this issue
Garden trader