Erich Steiner (pictured) shares his thoughts on Sustainability….
The concept of sustainability exists from the early days of human life on earth. It has been about survival. Looking back only as far as the 18th century Carl von Carlowitz, a german thinker, already formerly addressed the idea of sustainable forestry asking how we can combine economic interests with environmental needs without radically changing our way of life. This is the foundation of the idea, finding a balance between economic benefit and managing the impact on nature (and society). The inherent idea is timeless, yet we have only really started to talk about sustainability as a formal concept in recent decades.
In 1983 the UN formed the World Commission on Environment and Development with three objectives in mind: to re-examine the critical environment and development issues and formulate realistic proposals for dealing with them; to propose new forms of international co-operation on these issues that will influence policies and events in the direction of needed changes; and to raise the levels of understanding and commitment to action of individuals, voluntary organizations, businesses, institutes and governments. The results of this commission were published in 1987 as Our Common Future, 4 years of international research on “sustainable development”. Then in 1992 the Rio Earth Summit took these issues to the international stage where 179 countries agreed to work toward creating a “global sustainable development” with a fair balance between economic efficiency, social responsibility and a careful use of resources.
Since these early steps only a couple of decades ago there have been sustainability definitions and eco-labels created in almost every domain of life, including golf, to encourage the industry to “go green”, essentially to think of the social and environmental consequences as well, and not just focus on making more money. The R&A has defined sustainable golf as “Optimising the playing quality of the golf course in harmony with the conservation of its natural environment under economically sound and socially responsible management”. FEGGA has also produced an Environmental Policy Document back in 2000, encouraging the implementation of an environmental programme to bring the greenkeeping profession in line with sustainable practices.
A lot of research, writing and nice words, but the question is: where are we on this path toward a sustainable development some 24 years after the Rio Earth Summit? Are we bored with talking about sustainability? Some say it’s a worn out word. Was it just a passing trend? Has our constant talking replaced the acting and do we even remember our objectives and what are we doing to reach them? We might believe that we are already living in a world of sustainability with organic food shops on every corner and constant talk of green energy and Fairtrade bananas. Yet the truth is something else. The industrialized countries have just begun to make a dent in the total market but there is a long road ahead. GEO is working to help the golf industry becoming more sustainable. Is it working and to what extent?
Decision-making remains difficult with this every present conflict between our heavily dominant economic objectives and the importance of ecological integrity and social responsibility. Within the greenkeeping profession we talk of more environmentally friendly pesticide products and energy efficient machinery, yet climate change continues to rise, habitats are disappearing rapidly and fresh water reserves are more and more threatened. It is not only our increasing population that weighs heavily on this planet but also our economic-based decisions. Even in ecologically minded Germany, more than 1/3 of all native fauna and flora is under threat of extinction and 20% of all bee-hives did not survive last winter in Switzerland. And the world share of wealth if still incredibly unbalanced. We see this every day with the massive numbers of immigration requests trying desperately to find a better life in the western world. We would like to live in harmony with nature and be socially responsible yet the task is daunting. We talk the talk, but do we walk the walk? Where do we start? How sustainable can we be as individuals in a world of massive international conglomerates who make short-term profit their number one objective?
It seems insurmountable yet I believe that each individual can make smart sustainable decisions and when individuals get together, as we are as European greenkeepers, we can make a difference and even help to lead by example for the rest of the golf industry. Corporate sustainability is living together as said by Carl von Carlowitz back in 1713. As golf returns to the Olympics and the world stage this year, let’s stand up and get taken seriously. Let’s start a collective initiative for a collective impact. Let’s help bring a sustainable revolution to golf today, for a better game tomorrow..
Steiner & Partner Landschaftsarchitektur GmbH
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Erich Steiner MSc Landscape Architect FH BSLA, Managing Director
All ten host venues for The Open have achieved golf’s coveted global eco-label, GEO Certified®. The certification recognises clubs which have shown a strong commitment to environmental stewardship, resource efficiency and community value.
The certification is administered and assured by the Golf Environment Organization (GEO), the not-for-profit group dedicated to sustainability in the golf industry. The independently verified and publicly reported standard is internationally recognised as a credible and significant distinction.
Martin Slumbers, Chief Executive of The R&A, said, “The Open is played over many of Great Britain and Ireland’s most cherished links courses. We are delighted that all ten host venues have demonstrated a long-term commitment to sustainability best practices by achieving GEO Certified® status. This is very much in line with The R&A’s approach to sustainability and is certainly a key priority for us in the years to come.”
Royal Troon, host venue for The 145TH Open from 10-17 July, was the fourth host venue to earn the certification, meeting criteria across the categories of nature, water, energy, supply chain, pollution control and community, while working closely with ecology experts to enhance the habitat for a wide range of wildlife.
This commitment to sustainability will be underpinned at the ninth staging of the Championship at Royal Troon through The Open’s GreenLinks programme, which addresses the broader sustainability considerations around staging a major sporting event. It includes sustainable and ethical procurement policies for food and beverage, waste reduction initiatives, energy efficiency measures and a commitment to conserving the natural links landscapes which play host to the Championship.
The other Scottish host venues to achieve GEO Certified® status are St Andrews Links, which was the first Open venue to earn the designation and was re-certified in 2015 before staging The 144TH Open on the Old Course, Carnoustie, host of The 147TH Open in 2018, Muirfield, and Turnberry. In England, Royal Birkdale, host of The Open in 2017, Royal Liverpool, Royal St George’s and Royal Lytham & St Annes have all earned the certification.
The most recent venue to achieve the certification is Royal Portrush, which will host The 148TH Open in 2019. The Northern Irish links will welcome golf’s oldest and most international major championship for the first time since 1951. Course changes are being made in preparation for The Open with a focus on conservation of the natural dune habitat.
“This is a fantastic achievement and an impressive show of leadership from the ten Open venues and The R&A,” said Jonathan Smith, Chief Executive of GEO. “As well as providing stable and safe habitats for some of the UK’s rarest wildlife, and demonstrating some of the most sustainable turfgrass management in the world, a great deal of innovation is taking place on these Open venues. Solar power, rainwater harvesting, electric and hybrid machinery and partnering with local environmental and community groups are just some of those. This announcement is symbolic of growing momentum in the advancement of sustainability through golf and a very fitting way for the industry to celebrate Earth Day.”
GEO provides tools, guidance and support through the OnCourse® programme which is available free to clubs worldwide. OnCourse® and GEO Certified® raise understanding and facilitate tangible progress in sustainability across the industry, as well as providing credible recognition.For more information, please visit www.golfenvironment.org
Certification and verification reports for all ten host venues for The Open can be found at www.golfenvironment.org
Melspring Internationals product MelgreenMn has a new, enhanced formula. Due to extra micronutrients and a renewed composition of seaweed extracts the results of this manganese product, part of the Melgreen Liquid Range, have greatly improved. MelgreenMn is a manganese-based fertiliser solution in which the manganese is complexed with sugars of a unique algae extract. This algae extract has properties that with seaweeds have not been demonstrated before. Trials of research institute Lumbricus show that the extract of MelgreenMn stimulates growth and that the production of dry matter and the uptake of nutrients is greatly enhanced. MelgreenMn ,with this algae extract, is specially made for the early spring and ensures a significant boost to the plant and a quick start of growth. MelgreenMn should only be used in case of manganese deficiencies. This situation very often occurs in the top layer of a green. Because the manganese is captured in the soil fertilisation through the leaf is the best method. Manganese deficiencies often occurs…:
- In soils with pH > 7
- In soils with lots of organic matter
- In soils with lots of iron
- After strong magnesium fertilisation
Proven results In the Autumn of 2015 an initial trial was done by Lumbricus with the algae extracts used by Melspring International, some competitive products and control. Which kind of algae has the best effects? In terms of general turf grass development the use of the algae extract used in MelgreenMn resulted the fastest in a high density, in a significantly bigger turf grass height and in a higher biomass production than the control or other products. Also, the products algae extract gave significantly broader and thicker leaves.
Production of biomass (C = MelgreenMn algae extract)
Next to the boost in growth the new algae extract ensures a larger production of dry matter compared to the old algae extract that was used for the former Melspring manganese product. Also, the new algae extract used in MelgreenMn ensures a better uptake of nutrients in the leaf compared to control.
Uptake of nutrients (Extract C = MelgreenMn algae extract)
MelgreenMn: part of Melgreen Liquid prevention programme MelgreenMn is one of three products in the Melgreen Liquid Range, together with MelgreenSi and MelgreenCu. It focuses on prevention by optimal nutrition through the leaf, with healthy turf as the main target. The programme allows the plant to better resist to stressful events of whatever kind. The complete programme consists of carefully selected products geared to each physiological phase in turf development. MelgreenMn for a quick start of growth in spring, MelgreenSi for a high stress tolerance and MelgreenCu for hardening in periods after summer and in the late winter, when a higher resistance to fungal diseases is needed.
European Turfgrass Laboratories Ltd are pleased to announce the company’s 20th anniversary. Formed in 1996 by six of the UK’s leading agronomists, George Shiels, Jack McMillan, John Souter, Eddie Connaughton, Mike Harbridge and John Hacker to provide an independent testing laboratory for the sportsturf industry.
Becoming the first A2LA-accredited laboratory (Geotechnical, Putting Green Construction Materials, Certificate No. 903.01) outside of the USA in 1997 was a major accomplishment for ETL.
In 2016, the company remains at the forefront of testing for the sportsturf industry, renowned for its speed of service, reliability, accuracy of results and most important of all, remaining independent.
The company is currently managed by Sharon Singleton-Bruce who has seen the company grow since joining the company in 1997. “It’s amazing to think of the prestigious venues that we have provided testing for, the origin and types of materials that we have been sent are from all over the world. This industry is a fantastic environment to be a part of and here we are in Stirling, with a super client base, going strong after 20 years!”
Sharon is assisted by Carolyn Rutherford, Lee Dawson and Nicholas Cram – a small, dedicated team with years of experience.
Accreditation is a key component to the business and it ensures that ETL remain on the soil physical testing laboratories list approved by the USGA – currently, 1 of 10 such laboratories in the world to achieve this status.
Please contact Sharon Singleton-Bruce on 01786 449195, if you require any further information, or peruse the new website on www.etl-ltd.com
Advisor (left), Alina Kolchina, Vice Chairman (centre) and Arne Van Amerongen, Chairman. (right)
Arne van Amerongen is currently Golf Project Manager at the exclusive, privately-owned Kazan Golf and Country Club in Tatarstan, in Russia, where a 30-month, five-season construction programme extending the golf course from nine to eighteen holes has just completed.
The 80-hectare course is about 40km from Kazan, Russia’s third largest city and the thousand year old capital of the Tatarstan Republic. One of the largest economic, scientific and cultural centres in the country, Kazan is home to many athletes and clubs competing at national, international and Olympic championship level, playing host to major international events including the FINA High Diving World Cup, 16th FINA World and World Masters Championships. Kazan is also one the Russian cities for FIFA’s World Cup matches in 2018.
Designed by golf architect Peter Harradine, the first nine opened in 2009. The more impressive second nine, stretching 3,350 metres from the back tees and offering breathtaking vistas, opened on 12 September this year. The third and final nine is due to begin next year and once finished will make this 27-hole course the largest in Russia.
Having first started the project in 2011, Arne’s final and most important challenge was getting the new golf greens seeded and all 18 holes in play for September 2015, in what seemed an impossibly short time frame. Arne explains that in Russia the growing season is very short with warm and often dry summers followed by long and very cold winters. “Here in Russia the difference between summer and winter temperatures can be as much as 75 degrees, with winter temperatures often dropping to minus 25 Celsius. So in terms of greenkeeping we’re really working at the very edge of what possible! My approach for establishing these new greens was to focus on the fertilization. We needed, fast healthy growth for greens that also had to look good, and literally, within weeks.” He adds, “I use ICL’s fertilizers because, in my experience, they really are the best quality and outperform other fertilizers. I’ve used these products successfully for over 25 years in very different countries and conditions, and while I appreciate they can seem more expensive initially to the client investors, the quality of playing surface you can achieve is what counts.”
ICL products specified for Kazan Golf are as follows:
For greens, tees and approaches, two fertilizers; SierraformGT All Season 18-6-18+MgO which contains both slow release Nitrogen and slow release Potassium, along with normal release NPK in a single compound micro-granule and SierraformGT K-Step (6-0-27+MgO) with slow release Nitrogen and Potassium along with conventional release NPK in a single compound micro-granule.
On fairways and semi-roughs, SierraFormGT Momentum, a fertilizer containing both slow release Nitrogen and slow release Potassium, along with normal release NPK in a single compound micro-granule. https://icl-sf.com/uk/products/turf_amenity/sierraformgt-momentum/
For other roughs, ProTurf 12-5-20+2CaO+2MgO, a slow-release mini-fertilizer, rich in polyhalite. https://icl-sf.com/uk/products/turf_amenity/proturf-12-5-20-2cao-2mgo/
“On greens, the grass seed was L93, a superior creeping bent grass so with the first cutting height at 10mm and with intensive top dressing each week, we achieved a good playing surface ready for the grand opening. For the approaches, we started with a cutting height of 15mm, reducing to a final 12mm. Similarly on tees, the first cut was 15mm, reducing to 12mm. On the fairways, we started with a first cut at 15mm, staying at this height right up to opening. Semi-roughs were cut at 38mm and roughs at 76mm and again remained at these heights until the new nine opened.”
“To keep the greens in the best condition over the coming months, we will scarify deeply this autumn, and spray with a contact fungicide, leaving the surface open for the winter. We won’t top dress as that encourages disease and snow mould (Microdochium nivale). Next spring, we will simply fertilize again, apply a light top dressing and the course will be good to go.”
Arne is understandably very proud of what’s been achieved by the team at Kazan Golf.
“Just two and a half months from seeding to playing surface is outstanding and that happened as a result of hard work and a brilliant team effort. ”With only13 golf courses in the whole country, Arne is also keen to see Russian greenkeeping professionals sharing their ideas, knowledge and good practice so in May 2015, he established a new greenkeeping Association, The Tatarstan Golf Greenkeepers Association, (T.G.G.A)
- For more information about ICL Products please contact the local ICL-Specialty Fertilizers technical adviser or visit www.icl-sf.com/
- For more about Arne van Amerongen see http://www.qualitywithoutlimits.com/
- For more about Peter Harradine see http://www.harradine-golf.com/
- To contact the Tatarstan Golf Greenkeepers Association, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Greenkeeper Associations from all over Europe gathered in Portugal for the Annual FEGGA Conference on February 13th & 14th.
The coastal town of Lagos, in the Algarve, proved to be an excellent venue enabling the Conference to be split between the Vila Gale hotel, and the nearby Onyria Palmares Golf Club giving a wide range of facilities and the opportunity to stage an Educational Roadshow for Portuguese Greenkeepers as part of the event.
The Roadshow event was supported by Everris and Syngenta, which attracted around 45 local greenkeepers and featured presentations covering Soil Tests & interpretation of results by Everris, the OnCourse process from the GEO, the benefits of working with an Agronomist, and concluded with a spray calibration practical session delivered by Syngenta. The greenkeepers were enthusiastic and engaged – their concentration very evident as the language switched from English, into Spanish, and then finally into Portuguese!
The two-day FEGGA conference itself was attended by around 80 people representing greenkeeping right across Europe. The Conference focused on the major issues of Water usage & resource management in Iberia; Education, featuring both the FEGGA programme of Association support operating in Europe supported by the R&A, and the launching of the pilot of an important new initiative from FEGGA which will see Assistant Greenkeepers from across Europe taking on temporary exchange job placements to increase skills, confidence and motivation. A draft Joint European Position Statement on the use of Pesticides was also debated, and this will continue to be developed over the next three months before coming back to the Associations with more information. Couple this with a session in which all European Greenkeeper Association activity was discussed and this was a powerful gathering.
At the AGM some amendments to the FEGGA Constitution were accepted to help to continue to modernise, and Giovanni Nava, from Bologna, Italy stood down from the Board after his four year stint being replaced by Joel Nunes of Palmares Golf Club representing the Portuguese Association. The FEGGA Board wish to mark the immense contribution of Giovanni and thanked him sincerely for his time on the Board.
The Conference closed with FEGGA thanking Ransomes-Jacobsen, Toro, John Deere, Syngenta and Campey Turfcare for their support and involvement in delivering some of the education on show.
- John Deere Golf
Castro Marim was the venue for the recently held Portuguese Greenkeepers Conference, a venue set in the eastern part of the Algarve. Castro Marim is a 27 hole golf resort, and is just minutes away from the Spanish border and part of a number of golf courses that are creating a new potential choice for visitors to the Algarve.
Greenkeepers from Slovenia and neighbouring countries attended the recently held 16th Days of Education organized by Slovenian Greenkeepers Association.
The GreenQAmpus Partners recently gathered in the iconic golf town of St Andrews, Scotland, and for many it was their first visit. The project now moves into its 2nd year, and reaching a time when the project starts to see some results and the new colleges to the system start to learn from the process’s being introduced.