So for two days this week we took a break from the Winter Treatments to attend the annual conference of the Lawncare Association. The association, is a not for profit group, its members are all Independent (none franchise) Lawn Care Companies with shared goals and values. The Association sets a code of practise and provides a forum to share knowledge and best practise and bring people together as well as providing a voice to the Independent Sector of our industry.
The setting at Bisham Abbey was supberb, one of the homes of Elite British sports men and women and where the British Womens Hockey Team where based before winning Gold at Rio, infact the very pitch they won it on was first installed in Bisham for them to practise on and then dismantled and put back together in Rio for them to win on.
We were luckly to receive a talk from the head Groundsman for Bisham, St Georges (where the English Football team train), Lilleshall and the National Watersports Centre in Nottingham. He reminded us how important it is for all in the "turf" related industries to share knowledge as we all face many of the same challenges in dealing with lawn diseases, pests and keeping the grass green.
We were reminded that if the ELite Athletes from Bisham had been a team at the Rio Olympics then they would have been 17th in the medal table, thats ahead of Austrailia! The hallways and public areas are covered in pictures and quotes from sporting heroes from the recent and more distant past as a motivational reminder of what human spirit and endeavour can acheive with the right mind set.
So taking on the Olympic Spirit there followed two days of debate, networking (not all in the pub) and presentations on topics as diverse as "Lawn care fertilisers: a history, evolution and future", "the Power of Social Media Marketing ", "Online Marketing – Google, SEO, AdWords and Measurement", "Pesticides, Herbcides and Insecticides".
There were associated exhibition stands from industry leading suppliers of fertilizer and many other products that we use to help the lawn's to fight the weeds, moss, pests and diseases and its mightly helpful to be able to discuss products directly and see whats new.
It all started with a talk from Professor John Moverley of the Amenity Forum who talked to us about the general importance of the amenity industry to the community as a whole and how everyone is impacted by what we do and how we do it - the Forum have lunched a realy good awareness campaign - Take a look at the video below and find out more at http://www.amenityforum.co.uk/getmoving.html
So whats keeping the lawncare industry awake at night?
The big two challenges I think all the industry is facing is how the changing climate is affecting moss growth and how regulation is impacting on what, how and when we can apply products.
Dr Colin Mumford from Bayer reminded us that his company was formed as far back as 1863, their first big product was Aspirin launched way back in 1899 and that Bundesliga member Bayer Leverkusen started as the factory team.
Bayer are one of the leading suppliers of "amenity" products and until last year supplied the only insecticide product that was highly effective in dealing with the main Lawn destroying pests, Chafer Grubs and Leatherjackets. The product was withdrawn because of a regulatory decison last year, a rule that seems to have been driven by politics rather than science but "we are where we are".
There are organic nemotodes that can be used to deal with these pests but only at certain times of year, when soil conditions are right and the soil has to be kept moist for several weeks to make sure these little organisms can travel through the soild and get to the pests.
This is not just a problem for domestic Lawn Care, these pests attack grass where it tastes good to them and the gound conditions suit, so think golf courses, race courses and one that does not immediately spring to mind "airports". These pests eat the roots but the major damge is often secondary and caused by feeding badgers or birds and you can see why having an attractive grub feast for birds on grass next to a runway may cause some alarm for those responsible.
The good news is that the potential for harm means an emergency application is being made to allow the product to be used, the bad news is this will take some time and may not be successful and as Chafer grubs can have a lifecycle of up to five years this problem will run and run.
We are here to help so if you have a problem with Grubs get in touch with us or your local independent lawncare company (search for them at https://www.uklawncare.net).
And so to Moss, a hot topic for many delegates, the relativly mild winters of late and 400 million years that Moss has had to learn how to adapt means it seems to be getting worse each year. It has two growing seasons once in Autumn and again as Winter moves into Spring. The traditional way of dealing with Moss is to apply Iron and to Rake and Scarify.
In 2016 we became aware of some new lawn products which incorporate a composting bacteria to break down moss and organic matter into nutrients whilst feeding the lawn, they have the added benefit of reducing thatch levels as the bacteria convert this "organic matter" to feed for the grass. We trialed it last year and based on those positive results are launching a new program in 2017 called "Ultimate Moss Control" this is designed to control moss and thatch without raking, blackening and with less need to scarify so reducing mess and having to wait for the lawn to recover.
If you would like to hear more about this programme just call e-mail or follow the link to our home page
So a highly infomative couple of days, new friends and contacts and as always new learnings to help us help you
Please get in touch with any questions.
Hi I'm Annie and I love lawns and gardens. I own and run Lawnrite providing lawn care advice and treatments across East Hampshire and West Sussex
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