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Licence to Kill

Posted by mynormas on June 8, 2015


Very few turfgrass professionals in Malaysia realise that there is such a thing as a licence to apply pesticides. Except perhaps suppliers who have to have a licence to keep pesticides in their stores; they would be aware because it is given by the same body which is the Department of Agriculture.

Wait. What? You’re a supplier and you don’t have a licence to store pesticides? Oops. Well, perhaps because nobody checks so nobody knows. Except that recently a client who was worried about using pesticides that are irresistably cheap they actually kill – not only the target pests – but the grass as well, have asked me to narrow down specifications for pesticides and the three things that I can think of were to find chemicals that are registered with the LRMP (Pesticide Board), have MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) and buy from suppliers that have licences from DOA. So maybe one day, your customers will ask for your licence, then maybe you have to have one.

Pesticides, which includes herbicides by the way and not just insecticides and fungicides, are often used in relatively large quantities on a golf course. I say relatively because in Malaysia, it is rare to find them being used on fairways which is about 50% of a golf course never mind roughs (30%?) so for most of Malaysian golf courses; pesticides are restricted only on greens which constitutes about 5 – 10% of the golf course – ditto fertiliser (does that solve the mystery of Malaysian golf course quality for you?) – and because of Malaysia’s rainfall and humidity, the greens’ grass are quite often infected so we are still talking about a big amount of pesticides; though not as big as if it is also applied to fairways and rough hence the word ‘relatively’. Get my drift? Pun intended.

Despite applying mostly on greens, pesticides can consume up to 10 – 20% of the material cost on the golf course maintenance budget.

Even though the greens constitute only about 5 – 10% of the golf course area, golfers spend about 75% of their game on the greens so the greens are considered as the most important part of the golf course and the most highly maintained. It also means that golfers spend a lot of time on the most pesticide-applied area of the golf course. Constant exposure to pesticides can cause a multitude of reactions to different people; some are harmless and some can be dangerous. Of course a low level of exposure to a very toxic pesticide may be no more dangerous than a high level of exposure to a relatively low toxicity pesticide; so most of the risk is assumed by the applicators themselves. But still, I feel that golfers must beware the grass they are playing on is applied with chemicals that are potentially toxic. Then there’s also the risk of pesticide ‘drifting’ when applied at the neighbouring holes.

So we would expect that because of the risks to the applicators, to the greens, to the golfers and to the environment; most golf courses have applicators that are specially trained in this area with special equipment; right?

Not really…

Spraying greens with knapsack sprayer

Spraying greens with knapsack sprayer

Spraying iwth walking boom.

Spraying with walking boom.

Manual spray in progress

Manual spray in progress. Note the amount of spray coming out. How to know how much was sprayed in one area?

I’ve always find it strange and slightly worrying that the concept of ‘calibrating’ of sprayers are not common among Malaysian pesticide applicators, be them golf courses or even football fields. How do you know how much pesticide you are using or have applied? How do you know you have sprayed once or overlapped?

I suppose most of us have seen the application of chemicals so often that we are immune to what is wrong or right.

Unfortunately, the applicators licence issued by DoA are not compulsory on golf courses because they are considered as private property and the licence are compulsory for applicators in public property such as houses (for pest-control companies) but wouldn’t it be nice if ALL golf courses and football fields in Malaysia have trained pesticide applicators? Wouldn’t we feel safer?

I conduct a two-day hands-on training limited to six person to a class at your golf course with your current equipment (which means I can evaluate it too) so if you want to make sure that your grass gets the right amount of pesticide to treat the disease/insects/weeds, I assure you, the cost of using too much or the wrong chemicals is much, much higher than the cost of training. Call O3-5I3I OO66 or email mynormasATconsultant (AT=@) now.

I had to brag (liar) but I'm probably one of the few in the industry in Malaysia that has an applicators licence.

I hate to brag (liar) but I’m probably one of the few in the turf industry in Malaysia that has a pesticide applicator’s licence.

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