The purpose of this part of the blog is to explore aspects of turf management, such as the meaning of the term Groundsmanship or Greenkeeper, how the roles are perceived by others, what are the career opportunities and prospects and how factors such as technology and learning impact on the roles.
The environment is the domain of a ‘groundsman’ (even this term is an area that is worth exploring) and greenkeeper, so what he or she does can have a significant impact on the environment – whether locally or more widespread.
A key part of my explorations will be on questioning and challenging activities, materials usage and working practices. This all links back to the learning part of the blog, in essence:
- ‘Why are we doing this?’
- ‘Why are we using that?’
- ‘What impact is that activity or material having on the environment?’.
The use of pesticides is an often topical subject. What is the real need for utilising them? How much has inappropriate working practices lead to a turfgrass surface that is weak and more susceptible to disease, pest or weed invasion? Getting back to the fundamentals of Groundsmanship, Greenkeeping and turfculture and applying insight into what we do can help to optimise the use of resources, especially limited resources, is fundamental to many current issues.
How is groundsmanship engaging with the sustainability agenda?
What might a sustainability agenda look like for the turf surface in contrast to the turf care industry?
I have distinguished the two quite deliberately here as it will be interesting to reflect on how much influence ‘industry’ has on what is or is not considered a sustainable outcome.
Unfortunately industry may have a larger voice than is good for the environment as they have a vested interest in ensuring good financial returns are provided to shareholders and owners: This is not in itself a bad thing as it can help to drive innovation in technology, the challenge comes when deciding if a negative impact on the environment ensues from some business activity and what should then be done to limit or eliminate the harm done.
How can the skills and knowledge within the craft of Groundsmanship and Greenkeeping be better supported – for the present and the future? Having exciting and progressive learning opportunities that are not influenced by self-interest groups (with often limited perspectives and their own agendas) can go a long way to achieving this.
Learning (especially web) technology will have a significant place to play in delivering the skills and knowledge needed – especially to ensure a well-trained work force is kept up to date with regulatory changes, work practice improvements and the diversity of equipment and materials now available.
So plenty to go on here for this part of my blog.
Chris Gray, updated 10th November 2018