Why Does Golf Course Maintenance Cost So Much? Part 2
Smart Ways to Get the Most Value from Your Agronomic Budget
Typically labor and plant protectants make up the largest cost categories in any golf course maintenance program. As discussed in an earlier article, there are measures you can take to maximize your labor dollars, but what about agronomic inputs and materials? Costs keep climbing and technological advances continue at a rapid pace.
How can you be sure you’re incorporating the latest agronomic advances and getting the best value for budget spent? Following these guidelines can help.
FINE TUNE YOUR APPROACH
It’s understandable. With an abundance of new products and ever-changing regulations on fertilizers and chemicals, superintendents are overwhelmed. Most are conservative by nature and err on the side of caution, taking a broad-stroke approach with their fertilizer and control product programs—a tactic that’s often as ineffective as it is uneconomical.
Herbicides, insecticide and fungicide programs must be tailored to the course and the specific pest or pests. A prescription-based plan, like those BrightView Golf Maintenance develops and implements for our clients, are specific down to each individual property and to the pest we’re battling on that course, at that time.
Prescription-based plans take research and knowledge, but they’re worth it. They’re also more cost effective because dollars aren’t wasted on unneeded or ineffective inputs. With few exceptions, most of our inputs are fine-tuned spot applications that eliminate off-target movement of product, decrease product waste, increase efficacy and better protect the environment.
WEIGH COST WITH EFFICACY
No doubt about it – agronomic supplies can be costly. Like pharmaceuticals, control products must meet strict regulations. Manufacturers invest heavily to bring products to market and the costs are passed along to you.
But does a more expensive product make for a better product? And what about generic as opposed to proprietary products? Is one better than the other? Yes and no. It all depends on what you’re trying to solve and how you go about choosing products.
For example, certain pests, such as goosegrass and nematodes, are hard to control. Only a few products work and they’re expensive, but so is the long-term damage these pests can do. In this case the benefits of buying the product far outweigh the costs.
In the case of generic products, by all means consider them. All products, generic or proprietary, have to pass regulatory testing before they are available on the market. In addition, the active ingredients in generic products are generally the same as in the branded product. Nonetheless, there are differences in how the products are formulated. To ensure efficacy, BrightView Agronomists and Superintendents field test generic products to ensure they will perform as well as the branded product prior to use on clients’ courses.
The bottom line is that any solution is only as good as the knowledge that went into choosing it. Partnering with an expert team that’s invested in researching and testing a wide range of market-ready products can make a big difference when it comes to getting your money’s worth. We feel this to be very important and that’s why we invest in PhD Agronomists and in the latest research and technology.
BASE APPLICATION USAGE ON SCIENCE
Your course is your most valuable asset so it goes without saying that if there is new technology or research that can make your course the best it can be, you want to use it. The question is how.
Regardless of the technology or product, it all comes down to basing application usage on science. For instance, at Brightview, we use growing degree-days rather than calendar dates to properly time growth regulators. For our clients with courses in the Southeast where mole crickets pose problems, we monitor the crickets’ morphological development, timing our application in accordance with egg laying, a strategy that proves more effective in terms of cost and pest eradication.
Again, many of newer products and technologies are highly effective, but only when timed carefully, applied selectively and backed by the latest research and science.
ABOVE ALL – PLAN WELL AND REMAIN FLEXIBLE
Creating a sound agronomic plan is the first step to more precise budgeting and a course that reflects your vision. That said, having an objective review of your plan by experts who can note what’s working, what isn’t and how your turf is faring on an annual basis is critical.
Additionally, it’s important to remain fluid and flexible with your plan. Nature throws curve balls and new technologies and tracking methods for pests come onto market continually. An annual review of your plan by knowledgeable experts will ensure you’re incorporating the highest, latest knowledge into your agronomic and that your golf course maintenance budget is being spent wisely and well.
Would you like to learn more on how BrightView and our team of experts can help your course and see examples of how we’ve helped other courses like yours? Contact us and we’d be happy to discuss how we can help you get the most out of your golf maintenance budget.