Some say the long-timers in the golf course maintenance industry are the ones who roll their eyes when they hear the word “sustainability.” But not John Pope, who has been a territory manager with Maumee, Ohio-based The Andersons for 20 years and has been in the industry for nearly 40 years.
“The Andersons — and all its dimensions — has embraced sustainability,” Pope says, noting that the company has been recycling corncobs for years to be used in everything from pet litter to high-tech biomedical research products.
Lately, it’s been products like The Andersons’ dispersing granule technology, designed to optimize granular applied turf nutrition. Fertilizer and soil amendment granules, in contact with water, disperse into thousands of microparticles that move through the turf canopy and into the root zone.
The Andersons now also manufactures and markets organic products, including Humic DG, a natural soil conditioner that acts as an organic chelator or microbial stimulator, and Foltec, a foliar bio-enhanced nutrition. The products had a “slow acceptance” when first introduced a few years ago, Pope notes. But now that they’ve had time to educate superintendents about the “agronomic rationale to why you want to use these,” Pope says more superintendents are implementing them in their courses’ nutrient programs.
“We look at sustainability as a core concept in serving our customers,” Pope says. “We’re living the whole idea in turf management.”
Looking around, Pope sees other industry companies embracing sustainability.
“A lot of companies are coming up with new technologies, such as propane-powered mowers, to adapt to sustainability,” he says. “It’s a concept that can help you put dollars to the bottom line while increasing the ability to husband the earth.”
While the environment is a key component of sustainability, Pope says many superintendents are turning to sustainability just as much for the economic component.
“Economic realities have made everybody look at what they’re doing and how they’re doing it,” he states.
Most of the superintendents he meets understand the importance of sustainability as it relates to the environment, Pope says.
“Whether they call a particular practice sustainable or not, they understand the need to manage their courses for the long run,” he adds. “They understand they need to apply methods, whether biological, physical, chemical or equipment, to produce the maximum playing surfaces and aesthetics with maximum economy and respect for the environment. This all relates to sustainability.”