Representatives from industry suppliers expand on what the concept means to their companies and the message they’re trying to convey to superintendents.

Oriana Persechini

Category Portfolio Manager

Intelligro

Describe what sustainability means to your company.

Sustainability means planning for a better tomorrow, today. It’s about consistently meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This has always been our focus and was recently formalized this year through the introduction of Intelligro. Backed by leading research and innovative products, we strive to create smarter growth for a better world.

Through your sustainable efforts, what message are you trying to send to superintendents?

We believe that to create a truly sustainable solution, we need to break the mold. Plant protection has traditionally been dominated by one way of thinking and that’s to attack threats to save plants. It’s an approach that works, but not without consequences. At Intelligro, we take a different approach and that’s to work with the plant directly to help it become stronger. Simply put – healthier turf is stronger turf. By focusing on the health of the plant, superintendents can help to create a stronger foundation for their turf management program. CIVITAS products, used preventively, provide protection against disease, insects and the elements that can threaten the health of turf.

Are golf courses doing a good job of embracing sustainability? Why or why not?

In an effort to appeal to the environmentally conscious and exceed member expectations, we believe many golf courses are doing their best to strike a balance between sustainability, playability and aesthetics. Advancements in research and development are now leading to products that can deliver on performance while taking a more resourceful approach that creates conditions for reducing inputs such as fertilizer, pesticides and water. It’s about using resources to their full potential to create lasting, sustainable growth for our future and in the end. It’s the right thing to do.


Rachel Luken Thompson

Manager, Advanced Design & Technology

Jacobsen

Describe what sustainability means to your company.

For Jacobsen, sustainability focuses on creating the best outcomes for the operator and the environment. At Jacobsen we continue to find ways to make products that enhance sustainability and reduce environmental impact. We are also strongly committed to continual improvement of pollution reduction – as evidenced by our commitment to ISO 14001 certification in environmental management. By using this environmental management system (EMS), we are able to quantify monitor, and control the impact of our operations on the environment.

Through your sustainable efforts, what message are you trying to send to superintendents?

Our goal is to provide superintendents with a way to do their jobs more efficiently and at the lowest cost possible – while presenting superior conditions. Over the years, Jacobsen has used innovative, forward-thinking technology to reduce natural resource consumption. We are the only golf turf equipment manufacturer to use biodegradable oil to reduce consumption of standard mineral hydraulic oil and diminish the risk of turf damage in the unlikely event of a leak. Also, with the E-Plex mower line in the 1990s, Jacobsen/Ransomes was the first mower company to introduce electric technology to golf course maintenance products. More recently, we expanded our environmentally conscious technology with the ECLIPSE line of walking and riding greens mowers, available in all-electric or true hybrid power systems. By integrating social and environmental considerations into purchasing decisions, golf courses can help drive sustainability.

Are golf courses doing a good job of embracing sustainability? Why or why not?

Customers are asking more and more about fuel consumption, hybrid technology, bio-friendly oils and our company’s environmental practices. Reducing the impact we all have on the environment just makes good economic and business sense. The combination of these two elements goes a long way in helping golf courses embrace sustainability.


Joel Simmons

President

EarthWorks

Describe what sustainability means to your company.

Sustainability is not good enough anymore. We don’t want to sustain, we want to grow the environment for soil microorganisms; we want to help regenerate soils by building a solid carbon foundation. As we build a working carbon base in the root zone, we save thousands of gallons of water annually and provide a better growing environment for any plant. As we regenerate the carbon base in the soil, we provide an environment for millions of new microbes that will provide checks and balances for pathogens and significantly improve nutrient mobility to the plant.

Through your sustainable efforts, what message are you trying to send to superintendents?

This is all we have been doing since 1988, and what we are helping clients to discover is how a soil really works. By balancing soil chemistry and building available carbon levels in the soil, we can be much more than sustainable – we can regenerate the soil and build a stronger foundation that will provide a better growing environment for any property. This is how we help our clients to relax knowing that their soils will perform under any weather condition.

Are golf courses doing a good job of embracing sustainability? Why or why not?

They are embracing these ideas, they are seeing results, and they are changing the way they go to business. Superintendents are embracing the idea of reducing all their inputs and understand that the soil has to come first in this conversation. It is not a silver-bullet approach, but instead a process that our team has been in front of for more than 25 years. What we have discovered is that once a superintendent goes down the carbon-based fertility road, he rarely goes back.


Tara Pepperman

Director of Cooperative Sanctuary Programs

Audubon International

Describe what sustainability means to your company.

For Audubon International, sustainability really means finding that balance between a healthy ecosystem and the human world. We educate the managers of the places where people live, work and play to find that balance, golf courses being one of those places. Golf courses can be such important green spaces for a community, and we are on a mission to help golf course managers and the community to see that potential. For many years, golf courses were seen as only that, a place to play golf. Now, more than ever, we are seeing a change in the way courses are viewed by their surrounding community, as they are being used as a place for educational events, hiking trails and birders to appreciate the natural environment.

Through your sustainable efforts, what message are you trying to send to superintendents?

Sustainability doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming. It’s about setting benchmarks and goals and reaching them. And then set some more. Before you know it, you will have reduced water usage and improved your courses ecosystem in a big way. We know superintendents are stressed for time, and the cooperative sanctuary program was designed as a step-by-step process with that in mind. Take it slow and steady and you will end up somewhere wonderful.

In general, are golf courses doing a good job of embracing sustainability? Why or why not?

Yes. Golf courses are doing a great job at embracing sustainability, and we see that every day with the innovative projects they are completing and their genuine desire to better the environment. It’s not all about economics anymore, although that still plays a large part, but courses are really continuing to be sustainable for the love of the habitat they create. This was best reflected with our first annual Bio Blitz event this year. We know many superintendents are busy in the spring, so we really weren’t sure what kind of response we would have. We were overwhelmed at the number of courses that showed interest in putting on a Bio Blitz – a species-counting competition designed to create awareness among golfers and the community about the environmental value of the habitats – at their courses in honor of Earth Day, and by the amount of great data that came in about the habitats courses are providing for some really cool species. Stories like this really show that courses are embracing a sustainable mission, and are enjoying it as well.


Brian Galbreath

President

Humate International

What does sustainability mean to you and your company.

Sustainability refers to a means of caring for plant life that is sustainable and requires minimal external inputs. It means creating and maintaining a healthy soil environment. It means removing stress by natural means. It is the way Mother Nature does it. Mother Nature wants to create a forest to maximize diversity in the soil. This means creating and maintaining a broad spectrum of active microbial populations and providing high-energy organic matter for the microbes to work with. A soil with these two factors working in conjunction with each other may need a minimal input of nutrients, but little if anything else to sustain plants.

What message are you trying to send to superintendents about sustainability?

We realize the demands put on golf course superintendents to maintain a monoculture that is continually under stress (frequent mowing at extremely low mowing heights, compaction, high nutrient inputs, frequent fungicide applications, etc.) is counter to nature’s approach to sustainability. We have, however, demonstrated that our programs based upon the use of our high-energy humate organics – building and maintaining a diverse, active microbial population – can build a soil environment for growing healthy, stress-resistant plants.

In general, are golf courses doing a job of embracing sustainability? Why or why not?

More and more golf course superintendents are considering the concept of reducing inputs on a preventive basis to maintain their courses. Furthermore, they realize this is the future and that they, at some point in time, will need to face restrictive regulations on the use of synthetic chemicals to maintain their courses. However, most golfers still want golf courses that are pristine, beautiful to look at and favorable to low scores. Golf course superintendents are caught in the middle and their jobs are on the line.


Bill Fair

Owner

N-Vizion Products Group

Describe what sustainability means to your company.

Sustainability has always been our approach, even before the word became popular. Our brand has been around a long time, and the technology we use has always been about embracing sustainability. Our products contain all major, secondary and minor mineral elements available in chelated form, a balanced nitrogen complex and high levels of soluble carbohydrates to enrich the soil profile and encourage microbe-based mineral nutrient availability and uptake. We build plant health.

Through your sustainable efforts, what message are you trying to send to superintendents?

That we can help superintendents build a healthy plant. All of our products are manufactured with natural plant extracts, with soy being the base. What is more knowable to a plant than other plant sources of material? Our featured brand is Progressive Turf 10-3-5, which can improve turf root systems and thus improve the ability of turf to more efficiently absorb nutrients. Improving general plant health and vigor will decrease the need for inputs.

Are golf courses doing a good job of embracing sustainability? Why or why not?

I think superintendents are embracing sustainability more and more. Some superintendents have done the same agronomic things for many years, and some beat their heads against the wall trying to make things work, which is not sustainable. If they try to take a more sustainable approach, they realize they can reap rewards from it. Once superintendents see the benefits of sustainability, they will embrace it. They realize that you can teach an old dog new tricks, and that there is a natural approach to doing things that works.


Rick Irwin

President

Ecologel

Describe what sustainability means to your company.

Sustainability is about creating a balance between the need to protect natural resources for future generations while continuing to grow as a business. It can’t be one-sided. When conditions decline as a result of efforts to become more environmentally friendly and the course loses customers, that is not a sustainable business model.

Through your sustainable efforts, what message are you trying to send to superintendents?

At Ecologel, we believe in sustainability without sacrifice. By providing the industry with innovative technologies for water conservation, plant health care, balanced soil systems, pond maintenance and dust suppression, we want superintendents to know that, through the right combination of products and cultural practices, it is possible to maintain exceptional quality while promoting the responsible management of natural resources.

Are golf courses doing a good job of embracing sustainability? Why or why not?

While it is unfair to generalize with regard to golf courses and sustainability efforts, we find that our customers and the courses that we interact with are doing a great job of embracing sustainability. These are the superintendents who are seeking water conservation and water management products. They want to build roots and healthy soil systems.

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