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ASOY 2019 Finalist Q&A - Paul Gater

ASOY 2019 Paul Gator presentation

Q1 How long have you been working in the Turf Grass Industry, brief details about career to date ?

I lived in Scotland I was a junior member at Auchterarder golf club Perthshire, the club gave an opportunity to work on the course for a short time which I enjoyed, and it took off from there.

Went to Elwood College, Cupar, Fife in Scotland in 1993

Q2 where are you working now and what is your job title and responsibilities

Started at Caldy in June 1994; now First Assistant. My main responsibilities involve applying chemicals and fertilisers to the golf course and ensuring accurate stocks are kept. I have specific responsibilities in changing holes for club tournaments and chainsaw work as well, construction work on bunkers and tees. Can also carry out all green keeping duties in liaison with the course manager.

Q3 what qualifications do you have?

National certificate in greenkeeping   

NVQ 3 and 4, chainsaw certificate

PA 1/2/6

MiG welder certificate

Excavator 360 certificate licence up to 10 tons.

First aid certificate level 3 completed February of this year.

ASOY 2019 Paul Gator on Gator

Q4 What spraying equipment do you use and what and how often are spraying ?

We have a 600 litre tank Team sprayer. We also have a walk over sprayer even spray professional 50 l tank which we brought for are newly constructed greens we built this year. In the summer months I can be out spraying weekly we spray Primo Maxx to greens once every two weeks. Then monthly to the tees /surrounds, plus compost teas monthly to greens and tees /surrounds. Winter months all depends on the weather what needs doing.

Q5 . What are your top five challenges with application?

Controlling spray drift that can influence the environment.

Check list I use to reduce risk of drift:

1. Spray nozzle height / boom height

2. Wrong nozzles or pressure affecting spray quality

3. Vehicle speed

4. Wind condition

5. Poor equipment maintenance

6. Incorrect setup

Q6 What have you done to address the challenges?

1. Make sure you read and understand product you are using. and the correct application as chemicals must be applied with labelling directions

2. if Weather condition don’t spray if too windy, I use a handheld wind speed monitor before I spray an ideal wind speed is usually between 2-9 miles per hour light breeze. we also have a weather station to check the weather. If the wind speed is more than 15 miles per hour and over, we don’t spray and as for no wind do not mix as any drift may hang over treated areas and unexpected air movements may move it to other places.

3. the best time to use a pesticide is when the soil is moderately dry no rain is expected, on a cloudy day when temperatures are moderate. Never apply a pesticide when there is wind to prevent the chemical from drifting to non -target areas.  the best time to spray is the mornings / less people about playing golf. soon as we see disease, we apply the fungicide as this will help to control the outbreak of disease get the timing wrong can have devastating effects that can last until the following spring.

4. nozzles selection is key part of accurate application I always check output /spray pattern regularly when I use a Syngenta product, I use the app which helps me with choosing the right nozzle for applying pesticide.

5. signs go out before any spraying takes place around the club house / first tee/ on the club’s website. Keeping everyone safe is key.

ASOY 2019 Paul Gator chemsafe

Q7 Top five tips of their sprayer modification or spraying practice to improve timeliness of application?

1. with applying any application you do so in a safe environment.

2. Weather condition.

3. Timing.

4. Selecting the right nozzles.

5. Providing prior notification.

6. keeping your sprayer well maintained 

Chemical spraying at Caldy - we don't just reach for the bottle if we spot a weed - we tend to leave it until we can blanket spray large areas. We find by spraying the cliff holes first this helps to reduces the amount we spray in other areas. The wind tends to blow the weeds up and over the cliff on to the cliff holes. having the odd weed here and there is ok especially when you are trying to reduce the amount of chemical you apply each year.  We have G.B.R intensive wetting agents to help dry the playing surface out.  We spray soluble iron on the fairways which gives a wonderful green up, also helps keep the grass healthy through the cooler months.

ASOY 2019 Paul Gator sprayer

Q8 How do you minimise risk of environmental loss?

If we see pecking on the greens the control measure, we are using are: 1 aeration; 2 over seeding; 3 symbio programme; 4 Acelepryn insecticide. We sprayed at the end of September this year because we had a lot of leather jackets activity on the greens.

Using the Symbio products for 11yrs with greats results playing surfaces have improved, When we see disease, the size of the scarring has reduced. Roots of the greens turf have improved, with excellent grass coverage.

Fungicides have been reduced to spraying once a year, rather than twice yearly.

Things below help me at Caldy to give the best results when spraying:

From 2016 new legislation came into effect that all mounted and pedestrian sprayers must comply with national testing; so we always make sure every year the sprayer has a MOT through NSTS services. it ensures me the sprayer is working correctly. Its also helps to minimise breakdowns, plus for insurance policy it’s important to have.

We have areas around the course that are designated NO SPRAY ZONES which are called buffer zones which at Caldy are long stripes of uncut grass which forms a boundary. A sensitive area at Caldy is the bee hives we have on site.

I wanted to find out the accurate amount of water that I was putting in the spray tank, so we have brought a flow meter that fits on to the hose pipe. It was especially good if you want to spray a few greens you can get the right amount of water.

I use an app on my mobile phone to check my forward speed this helps me improve my spraying accuracy.

I use a handheld wind speed monitor to check the strength of the wind before spraying.

When I mix iron sulphate I use warm water to speed the dissolving process. Once mixed use it the same day, as the iron will start to oxidise thereby losing its efficacy. Once mixed I pour it through a filter sock as I pour it into the sprayer; this I find helps minimise any blockages I get out the course.

Nozzles selection is a key part of accurate application of appropriate water volume, at the required speed to hit the intend target. I tend to use water volume of 300l/ha for foliar products likes of Primo Maxx / selection of fungicides. For penetration through the sward I use 600l/h likes of wetting agents / compost teas. Billericay farm services BFS bubble jets air induction nozzles are checked for the output and spray pattern regularly with them being changed when needed. We tend to keep a spare set nozzle accessible when required.

All PPE always kept in a clean zone; everyone who is assigned to spraying has his or hers dedicated own PPE they tend to look after.

Store container old stock is dated so it can be used first. Some products are dated on them.

Spraying records are kept up to date

Signs out when spraying for members update.

Safe disposal of chemicals/ PPE/ waste contractors.

For washing down machines i.e. sprayer we have a reedbed system which we built in 2007 reusable water system.

First aid point always no where your first aid is. I always keep a bag on the sprayer with me.

Weather apps we have to check the forecast before any application.

ASOY 2019 Paul Gator walk behind sprayer

Q9 Record Keeping

We keep records of both chemicals / fertilisers which I keep up to date. It’s important to keep records for traceability/Insurance schemes /Information for emergency services /Double copies are kept. Paper copies are kept.

Products we use: Primo Maxx /Dew smart/   compost tea full programme/ soluble irons/ sulphate ammonia / wetting agents/ liquid feeds / liquid seaweeds   

Q10 How do you ensure you keep up to date with new developments? (Attending shows, Acquiring training / Basis Points CPD). 

I keep up to date with new developments by attending the Amenity Forum annually. Reps calling in at work keeping us up to date with new products. Attending trade shows/ checking the H.S.E /GOV.UK WEBSITES /seminars .

ASOY 2019 Paul Gator

Q11 What bit of spraying do you personally find most enjoyable?

Anticipating the end  result.

  • Making a difference to the playing surface
  • Trying new products that have lower environmental impact
  • Trying a non-chemical approach to controlling turf pest /diseases.

Read more of the experiences of all the ASOY finalists:

Find out who is overall winner at the BIGGA Awards Evening, at BTME 2020. Follow @syngentaturfuk to hear the news first.