The green industry, which includes turfgrass and landscaping, has been hit hard over the past few years of drought and economic downturn. And while most new landscape installations have stalled in recent years, improved management has helped keep many companies in business. And that was the focus of the ninth annual North Georgia Turfgrass Field Day in Gainesville, Ga., June 29.
“As much as what is changing in the world of landscape management and pest management, managers in the industry need current updates so they know what they’re doing is the right thing,” said Michael Wheeler, the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension coordinator in Hall County, where the field day took place.
The Gainesville field day starts off what is considered Georgia turf field day season. Rome N the Green will be held July 29 in Rome, Ga., followed by the Youth Sports Day Aug. 6 at Rhodes Jordan Park in Gwinnett County and the Georgia Sod Growers Field Day on Nov. 3 in Perry, Ga.
Over lunch, Mary Kay Woodward of the newly created Georgia Urban Ag Council covered legislative changes that affect the landscape industry.
On June 28, the day before the workshop, Georgia got good news: A water ruling against the state had been overturned, allowing water to be pulled from Lake Lanier to supply Atlanta’s needs.
Despite the good news, Woodward reminded landscapers to “continue working with your employees and your clients on best management practices for irrigation and landscaping.”
“As a green industry, if we want to remain viable, we still need to show how we’re being good environmental managers of water resources in north Georgia,” UGA Extension turfgrass specialist Clint Waltz told attendants later.
Landscapers learned about weed-killing chemicals from UGA Extension turf weed scientist Patrick McCullough, turf diseases from Extension turfgrass pathologist Alfredo Martinez, turf-watering needs from Waltz and both beneficial and harmful turf insects from Kris Braman, an entomologist and interim director for the UGA Center for Urban Ag.
“It’s an opportunity to give the managers some current information, and it gives them a chance to network with UGA staff and specialists,” Wheeler said.
Sponsors for the field day included Gainesville Parks and Rec, Georgia Sports Turf Managers Association, Field and Fairway Unlimited, Georgia Urban Ag Council, Helena Chemical, Howard Brothers Outdoor Power, Jerry Pate Turf and Tractor, John Deere Landscapes, KingGreen, Sports Fields Unlimited, Super Sod, Foothills Compost, Burnett Athletics and Hall County Cooperative Extension.
“The wonderful thing about this whole field day is that it is a true partnership between the office, UGA Extension, Gainesville Parks and Recreation and the Georgia Department of Agriculture,” Wheeler said. “This is so big, I couldn’t put it together myself. We’re all having to lean on each other to give a hand.”
(Stephanie Schupska is a news editor with the University of Georgia Public Affairs Office.)