Golf course superintendents should be thankful they’re not regulated like some sports field managers are in Connecticut, where pesticides are banned on fields used by children in grades eight and lower. The result: At Wheeler High School in North Stonington, Connecticut, the soccer field was overrun by grubs, which were overrun by skunks and crows. The pests took to the turf like a hungry dude in the buffet line at Golden Corral. They went to town.
The big question in the golf course maintenance industry these days is: What’s coming down the pike with pesticide regulations? Dang right superintendents are concerned.
According to a recent survey we conducted, 85 percent of respondents are concerned about future pesticide regulations. Fourteen percent said they’re “extremely concerned,” 23 percent are “very concerned,” and 48 percent are “moderately concerned.”
The good news is that pesticide manufacturers are aware of this and are already developing safer pesticides with safer active ingredients and lower application rates. You can bet that’s the path they’ll continue to follow.
Still, nobody is really sure what’s on the horizon with pesticide regulations. One thing is for sure, though: Don’t count on the well-funded environmental groups letting up in their demands for the turfgrass industry to reduce pesticide use.
I recently shared superintendents’ concerns about future pesticide regulations with Carla Trone, a regulatory affairs advisor with Petro-Canada Lubricants, which manufactures products for pest control. Trone made it clear that superintendents shouldn’t be too worried about pesticide regulations as long as they use them according to the label.
Trone is confident in regulators to make the right calls. She believes they will conduct the needed research and seek the appropriate feedback to make the right decisions and not be swayed by public opinion. She’s close enough to the situation to know this better than most of us.
In addition, she says superintendents shouldn’t be overly concerned that they’ll be forced to use only biopesticides in the near future – not that those products don’t have a place in the industry.
But Trone stresses that superintendents need to stay diligent. Most importantly, they need to make sure that whoever is applying the pesticides is using them according to the label. There’s no margin for error.
Golf courses are often exempt from pesticide regulations that impact other turf industry segments, such as sports turf. I can tell you that some sports turf managers view this as a slight. After all, many of them went to the same turf schools you did and consider themselves as knowledgeable as you when it comes to safe pesticide use.
Trone says she would “overwhelmingly encourage” you to stay abreast of the rules and regulations regarding pesticides. And it won’t hurt to educate others in your communities – from your golfers to your city council members – that you’re doing your part to be responsible in your quest to ensure safety.
Let’s cut to the chase: I know, and you know, that some superintendents go “off label” with some pesticides, which could be asking for trouble … big trouble.
Asking for trouble is the last thing superintendents need to do in regard to pesticide use.