By Mike Jiggens
AS golf courses throughout Ontario work toward accrediting themselves
in integrated pest management and prepare for their inaugural desk
audit and public meeting, some confusion still exists regarding the
necessary paper work to be completed and the specific requirements of
the club and its agent.
Many of those concerns were addressed in December at the 22nd annual Ontario Seed Company/Nutrite professional turfgrass seminar in Waterloo. Dr. Brenda Nailor, a pesticide registration consultant from Guelph, spoke to about 300 golf course superintendents and their assistants about what was required of them to obtain their IPMâ€ˆaccreditation within the government-imposed time frame.
Although golf courses were granted exception status by the Ontario government when it enacted its cosmetic pesticide ban in 2009, it was stipulated they had to become accredited in IPM. Most golf courses have already begun the process of becoming IPMâ€ˆaccredited, but midstream changes to forms which must be filled out and a move toward their electronic delivery have left many people scratching their heads.
Forms were changed last May by the IPMâ€ˆCouncil of Canada, but several golf courses had already printed out the older forms and had used them throughout the 2010 season. Nailor said those caught in such a predicament will have to print out the newer forms—available from the IPMâ€ˆCouncil of Canada’s website—and transcribe all previously filled out information onto the newer generation forms.
She shared new information with her audience, letting them know of the dates when scouting forms will have to be submitted this year:â€ˆthe weeks of June 14, July 12, July 26 and Sept. 27.
“Any scouting forms from within those blocks of time should be submitted, at least one per week.”
The IPM Council’s website is interactive, enabling all scouting forms to be uploaded.
Nailor said the council had required agents to present two reasons for applying fungicides, yet added no one would fail if only one reason was provided in 2010. Two reasons, however, will be required this year, but she encouraged agents to list as many reasons as possible for applying fungicides as well as herbicides and insecticides.
Using dollar spot as an example, Nailor said agents can state on the form that the pathogen is present, even if no symptoms are immediate. Agents can claim their golf course has a history of the disease and that trends indicate that it’s coming among the reasons for wishing to apply a preventative fungicide. If necessary, agents can click both the “preventative” and “curative” boxes on the online form.
Those wondering how best to calculate the active ingredient and enter the information onto the form can visit Syngenta’s GreenCast website, she suggested, noting the site includes products from both Syngenta and other manufacturers.
A new requirement for the annual report is the inclusion of a summary that lists which products were used, why they were used and how IPMâ€ˆwas able to help. A map denoting the specific golf course locations where applied must accompany the summary. Once the new forms came out last May, the requirement now reads, “Please attach a map of the golf course, showing the location where pest control products were applied, by active ingredient.”
Nailor said the required mapping might create some confusion. To demonstrate how it can be done, she used a photograph taken from Google Earth, loaded it into a PowerPoint application, and indicated on it where pesticides had been applied on the golf course. The strategy allowed for the use of colour coding to indicate which products were used and where. She said multiple maps can be used to show where each individual active ingredient was used in the case of overlapping products. Mapping should be done in a logical and simple-to-interpret manner, she added.
In addition to having to be submitted to the IPMâ€ˆCouncil of Canada, the maps must also be posted at the agent’s golf course, presented at the club’s public meeting and given to anyone who requests them.
“So you want to take time to do this map properly,” she said.
The maps need to be created so that they can easily be converted into PDF format, and should be kept at either legal or letter size to ensure they can adequately fit onto a typical computer screen.
Nailor said agents must ensure all blanks are completed on the online forms and that they are signed.
“On the form where it asks for ‘date of last calibration,’ you may just want to enter ‘last season’ if you hadn’t already calibrated that season. If the auditor sees unfilled blanks, they’re not going to know if it wasn’t required or if you simply didn’t do it. It’s better to provide something.”
If the agent didn’t use a backpack sprayer all season, he can indicate that, adding he consequently didn’t calibrate it.
“Otherwise, the auditor has to look through all your application forms, look for a backpack sprayer, and then look for a form that corresponds.
Entering more information than less on the forms is recommended, Nailor said.
Each form must be signed, and sometimes two signatures are required. When signing the forms, agents have the choice to sign manually or digitally. If signed by hand, the forms will have to be printed, signed, scanned and saved as PDFâ€ˆdocuments, and then either uploaded or mailed in.
Signing digitally is a different procedure which many older generation superintendents may find a little discomforting if they haven’t fully embraced computer technology, Nailor admitted. A digital signature will require the installation of Adobe Acrobat Reader and will allow the user to create a password so that he can “sign” his name electronically when required. The approach may seem somewhat complicated when first attempted, she said, but mused it will become simple “once you’ve done your 100th form.”
The calibration report is mainly a series of check boxes along with a section for comments. She suggested that when a backpack sprayer is calibrated, that the water volume rate be entered in the comments section.
Nailor said she has been fielding several questions regarding the “staff training” form, which is now two full pages. The first form is to be a summary of the various changes which have occurred during the season while the second form serves as a sign-in sheet.
“Every time you do training, you have to complete a second page where the person signs in their name, date and their actual signature. The first page only needs to be filled out as a summary.”
The number of training sessions conducted will determine how many second pages require completion.
“If the IPMâ€ˆagent has been trained in IPMâ€ˆtechniques (not CECs) at a golf course during the season, record that,” she said.
Nailor said submitting a blank form is unacceptable.
The IPMâ€ˆagent, the scout, the applicator and the calibrator should all undergo some form of training throughout the summer, she said.
“Just make sure anyone who was involved in signing a form at any time should have their names somewhere on that training record and have some record that they were trained.”
What exactly constitutes training has yet to be fully defined, but Nailor suggested the forms can indicate the reading of a disease identification book, the viewing of pesticide videos or discussions with learned authorities on diseases.
“Just make sure you have something written on those forms.”
Previously, agents have to comment on their fertilizer use. Although that’s no longer required on the form, records of fertilizer use must be archived in case the information is requested during a site visit.
Some golf courses could have as many as 120 to 130 forms to fill out in one year and then face the same process again the following season. Nailor suggested the forms be properly named and dated (by year, month and day) as they are saved to a computer hard drive and backup device. Strategic naming of forms will also simply things for the auditor who can immediately find what he’s looking for without having to search among a pile of poorly-named forms.
A desk audit checklist is available for downloading from the IPMâ€ˆCouncil of Canada’s website, and will need to be submitted.
The interactive website was still under construction at the time of Nailor’s presentation, but she said golf courses will be asked to provide the IPMâ€ˆagent’s name, certification number, golf club name, address and email address. By sending that information to email@example.com, a user name and password will be provided to allow access to the website.
Nailor recommended golf course obtain their user name and password as soon as possible because it is her understanding that there will be more involved than simply uploading forms, hinting some questions will also be asked.
The requisite public meeting can be held at any time, on any date, at any place, but it must be scheduled sometime between the completion and submission of the 2011 report and Nov. 30, 2012. She said the Ontario Ministry of the Environment will not dictate how the meeting is to be run. Anyone can attend the meeting, including activists, media and municipal employees.
“I would think you’d like to impress your neighbours and your members as well. This is your opportunity to provide context for all your pest control products.”
Nailor said it’s probably in everyone’s best interests if the meeting is scheduled at a time that is convenient for the majority to attend. Otherwise, activists who might be inconvenienced might be inspired to write letters to the ministry which could lead to new rules changes. Being professional and taking the meeting seriously is the best approach, she suggested.
“We suspect that there will be more than just pesticides discussed. It’s an opportunity to show the image of the club. You can demonstrate the expertise on staff and show your professionalism.”
The formal presentation at the meeting can be made by the club general manager, the superintendent, or by an entire team of individuals. If it’s the superintendent who will make the presentation, the general manager should also attend, Nailor suggested, because the meeting is a valuable public relations opportunity.
“It’s an opportunity for the general manager to show his support for the superintendent, and he can address any questions about the entire golf course because we suspect it won’t be just pesticides that will be discussed at these public meetings.”
At minimum, the agent’s annual report and map must be presented at the meeting. Following the 2011 season, that report will have to be saved for five years and will also have to be displayed at the golf course and given out if a copy is requested.
Advance notification of the meeting must be posted in the local newspaper, and neighbours living within 100 metres of the golf course property must be personally advised of the event.