Following the festive period, we now move on to our next journey - the start of a new year that will no doubt bring many challenges, opportunities and changes in the way we manage our amenity land assets in the coming year.
There will be exciting times ahead. Managing and maintaining an ever-changing, living landscape has always been a challenge. The sheer diversity of it all is immense. Not only do we have to cope with the expectations of the end users, but constantly be ahead of weather fronts and developing technologies.
Not having a crystal ball makes it difficult to predict what the future holds for our industry and those who work in it. However, for me there are three areas of contention I would like to see our industry overcome in the next few years. These being:
- better recognition of the work of done by grounds professionals that would hopefully lead to better pay and conditions;
- a national recruitment campaign to get new blood into the industry;
- and a review of the education pathways on offer to people working in our industry.
Essentially, we need to glamourise and showcase what we do to entice the next generation of paid grounds professionals. On top of that we also need the government to recognise the value of public parks and open spaces.
I personally would like to see our local authorities prosper with the availability of enhanced funds to reverse the decline of many parks and open spaces and see many more parks being awarded Green Flag status. Last year we had over 2000 parks awarded Green Flag in the UK.
Technology and innovation are moving at a great pace. Robotic mowers and battery powered equipment are becoming more wildly used in both the domestic and professional sectors.
The use of hybrid powered machinery will continue to grow, while larger petrol and diesel-powered vehicles will come under increased scrutiny.
There is no getting away from it, the smartphone and computer technologies are only going to increase and become a larger part of our industry in the coming years. We are already seeing the development of drones and robotics taking off at a rapid rate. Battery powered mowers are now at the forefront of many mower manufacturers minds. We have an array of cordless mowers and other implements being made available by a plethora of manufacturers.
I personally find it mind blowing to see the total range of machinery and hand-held tools we now have at our disposal, compared to 30 years ago. All are aimed at increasing efficiency, quality of work, and safety of the operator.
As mentioned in my last editorial, I would like to see our industry formally come together collectively to promote the values and opportunities that are available for this next generation and find a way of selling and portraying the values of working in this sector. There needs to be a national strategy that funds the opportunity for the industry to be promoted in every school. We need to show that there are many career opportunities to be had in our diverse sports turf and amenity industry.
We also need to remind people that most of our work relates to maintaining a living environment that is essential for the wellbeing and survival of mankind.
As for sport, spare a thought for the professional groundsmen who will be getting on with the difficult job of preparing pitches for matches during the months of January and February.
Greenkeepers will also be busy trying to keep their courses open and playable during this spell of wet weather. Reducing traffic damage is always a priority at this time of the year. Many clubs ban the use of trolleys and golf carts, unless they have a decent pathway or road system running through their course. Planned winter works will be a priority, with ditch cleaning, bunker refurbishment, and tree work some of the jobs that get done at this time of the year.
We should have all made some new year’s resolutions. January is a good time to plan and prepare your annual work requirements. Quite often new budgets are set in January, so it is clearly a good time to start putting things in place. January is also a good time to send your machinery away for its annual service, so it is ready for the start of a new growing season that is less than 12 weeks away.
And finally, just a reminder that the date of this year’s BTME show in Harrogate has been moved to March and will commence Tuesday 22 to Thursday 24 March 2022, with Continue to Learn taking place from Sunday 20 to Wednesday 23 March 2022.