A problem has been made clearer in the past year - golfer contamination.

Some of you may have read of studies by doctors in the past year, who claim to have found Hepatitis A - that is non-infectious hepatitis - is prevalent amongst golfers who 'lick their golf balls'. The inference is that golfers are ingesting the pesticide from the contaminated golf ball.

In the past I have been loath to put up signs, as the manufacturers have assured us of the safety of the products - almost every manufacturer says the products are safe once dry.

Can I say that, as of now, warning signs on the 1st Tee and the 10th Tee (or any other place where risk will occur) is essential - you may also want to place signs in the area actually sprayed.

Basically I think we have three choices of action for spraying :

  1. Spray early in the morning so that the pesticide is dry by the time the golfers play - this can be a bit hit & miss as drying conditions can vary enormously and grass has been found to be still damp at 11.00 am!
  2. Spray in the middle of the day when it dries and becomes safe quickly perhaps after only 15 minutes - again a bit hit & miss as golfers can appear at any time!
  3. Close 1st or 2nd nine holes alternately for a regular day weekly - say Tuesday - on that day close 9 holes until after lunch. Only spray on that morning of the week - this will allow uninterrupted safe work to take place. I believe that this alternative may become the safest option to approaching the problem.

A London Borough was fined £10,000 plus £3455 costs for failing to have an exclusion zone during herbicide spraying.

Its employees

  1. used trained & qualified personnel
  2. used a safe pesticide - Hilite
  3. used safe equipment
  4. used a safe working practice
  5. did not contaminate anyone

The Borough admitted a breach of Health & Safety at Work Act by failing to implement a 5 metre exclusion zone to ensure the safety of non-employees.

There is now increasing pressure under the various elements of environmental and waste legislation - the Groundwater Directive and the Waste Packaging Directive.

Groundwater provides about 33 per cent of the public water supplies in the UK, rising to above 50 per cent in the drier southern parts of England. The basic concept of the Directive is that anything which affects the groundwater, or could affect the groundwater must be controlled.

Many of the labels are now showing that you must maintain a 'buffer zone' between the sprayer and any water course - six metre with a tractor sprayer, two metre with a knapsack sprayer - this can appear in the statutory Box and if so, is required by law. Many golf courses I know, have burns and streams running through them and some have lochs and lakes! This means quite clearly that spraying must not be carried out right up to the edge of these watercourses.

Spray washings are now not to be 'dumped into a soakaway' the term soakaway is now not to be encouraged as some people have overloaded the soakaway which has broken out into the groundwater to contaminate drinking water.

We are fortunate on golf courses as we have a very easy remedy

  1. Use the sprayer only for the turf grass crop - if you want to apply Roundup Pro Biactive use a different sprayer or hire it in! Remember a new knapsack sprayer costs only around £120 whereas a killed green is worth a small fortune!
  2. Calculate accurately the amount to be mixed and if any is left over use it on extra crop - remember not to exceed the maximum dose rate.
  3. Wash by half filling and spraying out on extra crop on at least 3 occasions.
  4. Remember the safest place to put a pesticide is the spray it on the crop for which it is intended.

The legislation on packaging is beginning to take effect. It requires the manufacturers to consider re-cycling pesticide containers and some are already doing so. This will continue in the future and will take away the problem of how to get rid of containers - its time you asked your supplier and manufacturer how he is going to deal with waste pesticide containers.