First up today, I’d like to draw your attention to an important new regular feature, that we’re launching in TurfPro this week.
Sponsored by Envu and entitled Sustainability Focus, once a month Professor John Moverley (previously chairman of the Amenity Forum) will be taking us through many aspects of this complex, yet vital subject.
Subsequent articles will focus on areas such as sustainability in machinery and equipment use; in weed, pest and disease management; and in the amenity supply sector. For today though, John’s starting at the beginning with an introduction to the notion of sustainability.
We thank John for his contribution this year and also thank Envu for their valuable sponsorship. I look forward to following the feature’s progress throughout 2023.
Also new for this year, next week will be the start of TurfPro's Guest Editor slot - where I take a backseat from this blog for a week, and hand over the reins to a well-know industry figure, to let them offer their thoughts on our sector. We're kicking it off with a highly respected professional at the top of their game - so do look out for that exciting launch next Monday.
Moving on and considering that old perennial the weather, so far January looks to be on the wet side with more warm wet weather forecast. I read with interest Mark Hunt’s weather blog which offers an informative take on the weather predicted for the remainder of the month.
This warm wet weather will no doubt exacerbate some outbreaks of turf diseases on our playing surfaces. The key to reducing the risk of disease is to have a robust IPM maintenance regime in place to try and keep the grass surfaces dry, with plenty of air flow around the base of the plant. This is generally achieved by regular dew brushing to remove excess water from the leaf of the grass plant and brushing to stand the grass up which will in turn circulate some air around the base of the grass plant.
Encouraging and maintaining a healthy sward requires a lot of mechanical and physical activities as well as applying several enhancing products such as plant feed supplements, wetting agents and top dressings throughout the year.
Cold temperatures, heavy rain, snowfall, and more all create the perfect conditions for turf diseases to flourish. Luckily there are ways to avoid common winter turf diseases such as Fusarium patch (microdochium nivale) also called snow mould, and red thread (Laetisaria fuciformis) commonly seen on fine turf playing surfaces / lawns.
By carrying out coordinated IPM strategy, combining the use of several cultural methods to keep the turf healthy, along with a preventative fungicide programme, will effectively keep these turf diseases at bay.
With all this rain about we are likely to see a lot of saturated winter games pitches. A saturated / waterlogged sports pitch is one that has become oversaturated with water, typically because of heavy rainfall.
A waterlogged sports pitch is one that has become saturated with water to the point that it is no longer possible for the water to drain away. This can make the surface of the pitch soft and spongy and it can be difficult for players to move around on it. Waterlogged pitches are not suitable for playing sports on because they can be unsafe and can also lead to damage to the playing surface.
To prevent a pitch from becoming waterlogged, it is important to have a good drainage system in place to remove excess water from the surface. In addition, the use of covers, such as tarpaulins, can help to protect the pitch from heavy rain. If a pitch does become waterlogged, it may be necessary to close it until the surface has dried out sufficiently to be safe for use again.
Moving on from the weather, I am really looking forward to the BTME show in Harrogate next week, from the 24th-26th January. I will be there with my fellow editor Steve Gibbs and our colleagues from TAP, representing both TurfPro and Service Dealer magazines.
In my view it has always been a must attend event, with the opportunity to see what is happening across the industry regarding new products and services we can expect to see in 2023.
No doubt we will see even more battery powered products coming on line, however for me, I will be more interested in discovering what our industry is going to do about future recruitment of young people into the industry.
I have said on numerous occasions that we need a national campaign where both leading turf organisations BIGGA and GMA, along with other key drivers, should come together to promote this wonderful industry and have a programme where we go into schools and colleges to promote the opportunities that are available within this diverse industry.
I would also like to see a National UK Apprenticeship scheme set up whereby we can generate over 1000 apprentices coming into the scheme on an annual basis, so that within five years we would have over 5,000 new people coming into the industry.
I can only see this happening when many of the large industry players support a scheme such as this. I accept we already have a lot of individual apprenticeship schemes running - but for me this is not enough.
I would like to see a collective of large organisations and private businesses come together to support and run a larger national scheme, where we inflate the opportunities for young people to come and work in this industry.
When I keep hearing about many businesses and top flight sports clubs having trouble recruiting, it must tell us something?
Our pay and conditions have never been the best, but we need to change our attitudes and find ways of enticing the next generation of turf professionals to come into this fascinating and challenging industry.