ASOOTY winner gives top tips on amenity application



With the finalists of the Amenity Sprayer Operator of the Year being announced at the Amenity Forum Conference this week (13 October 2022), the current holder of the prestigious title, Jason Garlick of JMG Amenity, explains the tricks of the trade and what made him a winner.

Sponsored by Syngenta and ICL, in association with BASIS, the awards seek to share top tips and advice that will raise the standards of spray application across the amenity industry. ​ 

How long have you been working in the turf grass Industry?

I’ve been in the industry for over 14 years. I used to work for a publication company with clients based in London and dreamed of being a greenkeeper. As I had no experience in greenkeeping, I decided to get my qualifications in pesticide application - to make my job application more credible. In the meantime, I was approached by a contract pesticide application company. I worked there for two years, before deciding to go it alone.

Where has that led to now?

In 2009 I created a contractor pesticide application company, called JMG Amenity Limited (turfcare & weed control). It primarily covers the East Midlands, but saying that the job has taken us as far as London, North Norfolk and into Wales.

In 2015 I bought a company called Phoenix Turfcare and incorporated that into JMG Amenity Limited. That gave us the opportunity into selling liquid/granular fertiliser, top dressing, loam, seed as well as supplying pesticides, wetting agents, turf tonic and turf enhancers to name but a few.

We are a small but successful company so it’s hard to pin-point my job title - it all depends what needs doing at the time; I am a Director, Agronomist, pesticide applicator, Mechanic, Store Keeper, Purchaser, Sales, Customer Care, Marketer, Bookkeeper……….

What qualifications do you hold?

I hold NPTC PA01, PA02, PA06, PA06AW, NPTC qualified NSTS pesticide sprayer tester, BASIS qualified in Invasive and Injurious Weeds as well as Hard Surfaces.

What spraying equipment do you use and what and how often are spraying?

We mainly operate a 450 litre Team Sprayers demount sprayer, fitted onto a Kawasaki Mule 4010. I also use Cooper Pegler knapsacks and a 30-litre pedestrian sprayer. I am out most days spraying, it all depends on the season what products I’m applying.

What are your top five challenges with application?

  • Client expectation
  • General Public
  • Pesticide timing
  • Weather
  • Machinery

What have you done to address the challenges?

I would like to think that we meet our client’s expectation by sitting down with them to find out what the problem is and come up with a solution that works for all parties.

Whether on a golf course or on a council open space it is very important to keep the general public aware that you are applying pesticides, for this reason we place signs on the course, in the club house or at the entrances of park.

We speak in great lengths to our pesticide suppliers in order to use the correct product at the correct time to ensure the correct results.

Weather is a major part of my job and is one of those factors that you cannot control. It can be and often is too windy, too wet, too rainy, too dry, too sunny, too frosty - it makes you wonder who would do a job that is so weather dependent in this country.

Machinery is another big factor, therefore all machinery is serviced on a regular basis and sprayers are NSTS tested once a year. We have spare ATV’s just in case of a bad breakdown, the sprayer unit can be removed and fitted onto the new ATV within minutes.

How do you minimise risk of environmental impacts?

By only using a pesticide product if it is absolutely necessary. If we have to use a pesticide product then we follow the strict rules of LEARAP. If treating in or near water we will work closely with the Environment Agency and gain authorisation. 

Do you have a IPM strategy?

Yes of course, having a well-defined IPM strategy is very important to JMG Amenity and is based on prevention, monitoring, and control to at least reduce the use of pesticides. When approached by a client, the first question asked by us is does a pesticide need to be used to solve the problem.

What record keeping do you use?

We use a very detailed record keeping system. The operator will take the application sheet to the job and will use the information on it to tell them how much product/water to use, what nozzles, pressure and speed to apply at.

The application sheet details pesticide active ingredient, product name, product application rate, water rate, size of area to be treated, total pesticide used, total water used, nozzle type, nozzle colour, pressure setting, speed. This way there is no confusion.

After the job has been completed the operator will fill in the application sheet with date, start and end times, wind speed and direction, weather conditions, size of area treated, amount of water and product used, nozzles used and a comments box for any additional information. Because we have numerous clients the application sheet will detail the clients full contact details including contact name and telephone number.

How do you ensure you keep up to date with new developments?

We subscribe to a lot of trade publications. We also attend Saltex, BTME, Amenity Form and the Amenity Forum updates.

We have attended training and are BASIS registered and hold qualifications in Invasive and Injurious Weeds, Hard Surfaces, We are looking to attend more training to gain additional qualifications in Sports Turf, FACTS (fertiliser) and Water Courses.

What bit of spraying do they personally find most enjoyable?

I get called in by clients that are over-run by turf disease, Japanese Knotweed, broad or small leaf weeds on sports turf. And I enjoy sitting down with the client to find out what the problem is, I come up with a solution that works for all parties, whether that is the client or the environment, and finally seeing the end result.

Get more application advice

Look out for the presentation of the overall winner of Amenity Sprayer Operator of the Year at the BTME awards ceremony in January

ASOTY presentation 2022