OUR SUSTAINABLE LEADERSHIP CHALLENGE
Over the past several years, there have been a growing number of negative news releases regarding the impact of pesticides and fertilizers into our streams and waterways. At issue, the general public perceives that lawn care and golf courses over use pesticides and fertilizers to manage turf. These regulatory initiatives have been due to local grassroots efforts to reduce the use and run-off of these products. These grassroots efforts have increased in numbers throughout the US. They are no longer a few isolated areas. They have grown into state and regional efforts to limit or ban these types of products. As an industry, our response has been to defend our use of pesticides against these regulatory efforts. This is a good start but we need to be more proactive as an industry. We can do more.
Over the past 25 years, there have been many new environmental product breakthroughs that offer new alternative approaches using organic or biological solutions. These exciting new biological solutions can provide outstanding turf quality plus reduce the dependency on chemical solutions. It is hard to communicate an environmental message when our industry is perceived as one of the problems. We can take steps to reduce our pesticide usages and improve our overall turf quality. This is a strong message that we fail to take advantage.
I raise this concern because the new buzzwords are “Sustainability” or “Carbon Footprint.” These terms are not sinuous with the major ways and methods that we manage our golf courses, sports turf, home lawns and parks. Sustainable and carbon sequestration are associated with the use of biological or organic products. It’s time that we begin to test and embrace these sustainable organic products. The Sanctuary offers a wide array of products that address turf management issues with biological solutions.
As the owner of the Sanctuary, we continue to provide outstanding alternative sustainable products and solutions. Plus, we continue to support educational training and research that focuses on ways to integrate traditional and biological solutions. In fact, most of these training sessions are well attended. But, I open each training with one basic question, “Who has integrated biological solutions into their agronomic programs.” In general, only 3 to 5% of turf managers have tested or used organic or biological solutions to manage turf quality. With the double-digit growth of organic foods and other environmental products sectors, “Why is the turf industry lagging behind other industries in adopting more environmentally friendly practices?” As an industry, we need to focus on “Why” this level of commitment is so low. This is our challenge!
Like many of you, I got into this industry for the love of the game and the love of nature. Today, many clubs recycle waste, change out their light bulbs, and use more renewable energy platforms. But, can we do more before regulators step in to mandate pesticide and fertilizer legislation? Yes, we need to embrace these new sustainable technologies. We need to move forward with greater environmental commitments before new laws are passed that could have major negative impacts on our industry. I suggest we take a greater leadership role as this is the future for our industry. I believe most turf managers are going to be very pleasantly surprised when you “Go and Grow Greener with Biological Products and Solutions!!!”