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AGCSA National Conference

Asia study tour showcases Zoysia

50 years of StrathAyr success

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Welcome to TurfTalk, Australia’s most comprehensive turf magazine. TurfTalk is suitable for all turf professionals, from turf growers to landscapers, golf courses and sports ground curators, to government and related industry organisations. TurfTalk is here to share with you the latest information on the turf industry, the exciting developments in turf research and to keep you up to date with everything you need to know about turf. TurfTalk is a free magazine, distributed to over 3000 landscape and turf professionals. TurfTalk is published by Lawn Solutions Australia. Contact: For any enquiries or submissions please contact us at Hoiana Shores Golf Course


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Killara Golf Course

Moving mountains JIMBOOMBA TURF GO THE DISTANCE FOR KILLARA Jimboomba Turf Group is a name synonymous with turf in South East Queensland. A leading turf business since 1973, with Lynn Davidson and Cherie Morrison at the helm, the Jimboomba Turf team have always been innovators. No project is out of consideration, in fact the more challenging the project the more excited the Jimboomba Turf team gets. So turfing a prestigious golf course, 12 hours’ drive away in Sydney, with 55,000m of a new turf variety, ticked all the boxes for a job they could thrive with. The grass variety selected for the project was Sir Grange zoysia, a product exclusive to Lawn Solutions Australia (LSA). LSA members across the country have embraced

Sir Grange, with it now grown and sold in almost every state of Australia. However, a geographical and climatic advantage, combined with a fearless commitment to innovation, put Jimboomba Turf in the box seat for this project. Jimboomba Turf had the product on the ground, and the next challenge was how to get it to Sydney in condition good enough for Killara Golf Club. Turf is a living product and must be laid as soon as possible after it has been cut; this becomes a problem when you want to transport it over 900km before installing. It becomes of even greater importance when dealing with a course as prestigious as Killara - it isn’t good enough to throw the turf on the back of a flatbed and hope it gets there OK.


This led to significant investment in cold chain management, with purpose-built refrigerated equipment joining their company owned fleet. Jimboomba Turf are always looking for unique solutions and innovations that can give them a point of difference and this new set-up delivers just that. It also delivers cool fresh turf over the longest of distances, with their real-time tracking and temperature monitoring giving their customers the ultimate confidence the product is being delivered in the best possible condition. With the product on the ground and the truck and trailer set up to get it there, the job was far from done. The team at Jimboomba Turf relied on their 45 years’ experience to ensure the job ran smoothly. It started with their logistics manager

Killara Golf Course

Killara Golf Course

Killara Golf Course

Steve Halvey, who had to liaise with Killara Course Superintendent Ryan Fury to plan and map out the entire process from farm to course. Then farm managers Shane Troyahn and Brendan Ludwig ensured the product was looking its best and harvested in the best condition with their state-of-theart Firefly harvesters. Then their transport operator Mick Gouldrey, swapped spending his days meeting mums and dads across Brisbane for long lonely drives to Sydney for the duration of the job. Mick’s perfection and precision saw him arrive in Sydney within a 10 minute window on every trip.

Lynn Davidson of Jimboomba Turf

The teamwork didn’t stop inside the walls of Jimboomba Turf, with the connections within Lawn Solutions Australia leant on to help meet the quantities required through the peak of this project. Turf came from as far as Bay Turf in Hervey Bay and Twin View Turf in Wamuran to help complete the project. Such a huge logistical exercise, that delivered such a wonderful result for the client, is a testament to Jimboomba Turf’s mission: to leverage their unmatched 45+ years’ experience to deliver innovative green solutions, so that their customers purchase premium turf products perfectly matched to their environment and lifestyle.


Redefining Turf Mowing in Australia LILYDALE INSTANT LAWN AND THE TRIMAX EXPERIENCE Lilydale Instant Lawn has been supplying sod to the Australian market since Garry Lusk started his business in 1985. Today, the operation is spread over four farms, which cover 1500 acres combined, over 600 of which are dedicated to turf production. Constant, accurate mowing is a key element in commercial turf farming. Durable, low maintenance mowing equipment which is easy to use, easy to service and easy to repair is essential. As any farmer will tell you, when you spend money on a machine, you need it to spend its time in the field working, not in the workshop being repaired, maintained, or worst of all waiting for parts. You also need the suppliers to be on the ball in supplying parts and immediately available with expert technical back up. In other words, machines are bought to be used and after the initial purchase, cost of ownership should be minimal. Their First Trimax – A Trimax XWAM Garry recalls, “We were looking for a highquality large area mower, specifically for turf, to mow low, and the rest of the fleet probably wasn’t capable of mowing the heights we were chasing. So we invested in a Trimax XWAM… and it’s been a fantastic mower.” Building a Fleet Since delivery of the Trimax XWAM, Lilydale Instant Lawn have purchased another two Trimax machines; a 6-metre-wide Pegasus S4 610 and a 3 metre ProCut S4 290. GM Steve Cole says they decided to stick with the Trimax brand because “…we’re


finding it has a superior cut and is a much lower maintenance machine than what we’d traditionally use.” Lilydale use their Trimax mowers on warmseason grasses. In summer, they’re in constant use, mowing every day in peak season and at least three times a week during slower growing times. Needing Spare Parts is One Thing – Fitting Them is Another The working parts on a well-designed and balanced machine will not wear very quickly. “Spare parts have been very good ... we haven’t needed them too much. I’m 90% sure we’ve only needed to put one bearing on the Trimax XWAM” Steve says. The Trimax LocTEK System The new LocTEK bearing system changes the game completely when it comes to roller bearing retention and the complexity of fitting new bearings when they need replacing. “I think that’s going to be fantastic too... It reduces downtime, it reduces expertise needed to do the job. Pretty much anyone can change one of those bearings now…”.

Danny Hack – Farm Manager at Bairnsdale says “The Pegasus we’ve had for 12 months ... it’s been very good; we’ve had no issues and it’s done a good job. The XWAM we’ve had for approximately 5 years.” “Only recently the XWAM presented an issue, which was addressed straight away once Trimax was contacted.” Danny adds “We spoke to Hilton and he’s been in touch with the tech and engineering guys straight away, he gave me some feedback on things to look out for and some advice. The service was excellent … from our perspective the service from Trimax is second-to-none.” We are Here for the Farmers Trimax mowing equipment is designed with the end-user in mind. Low cost of ownership, ease of use and ease of maintenance are built into every machine we produce. They are the result of over 30 years’ experience and listening closely to our clients. If you would like to know more about our range of equipment or for us to call on you, please contact us at:

When Problems Arise, You Need Backup

40 Carson Road, Deer Park 3023 Melbourne, Australia

Trimax lead the industry with a three-year guarantee on mowing equipment. Backing this up is a company-wide ethos of rapid and effective response when a client needs advice or parts.

1800 874 629 (Free Phone) +61 (03) 8361 7868 (Admin) +61 (03) 8361 7868 (Sales)

AGCSA Conference 2019

Brisbane was the home of this years conference This year’s Asia Pacific Turfgrass Conference and Trade Exhibition was held by the AGCSA in late June at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre. The four-day event, the biggest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere, featured workshops, business training sessions and education seminars delivered by researchers in turfgrass science, golf course superintendents and industry experts. Exhibition stands showcased the latest in turf grass management and products.

David Doguet and Simon Adermann

The Syngenta Turf Industry Awards Dinner closed the first day of the conference. Attendees were welcomed to Brisbane and awards were presented to all the nominees. Lawn Solutions Australia’s Simon Adermann said the awards covered many categories, including the environment, the industry’s next-generation and life memberships. “I think the most important award that evening was the life membership that was awarded to Peter

AGCSA 2019/ 5

This page: Inside the Centre, including Industry Partner displays

Lonergan, the golf course superintendent at Coolangatta & Tweed Heads Golf Club,” he said. A social evening ended day two of the conference; the 500 attendees walked about the opening of the AGCSA trade show and took in what was new in the industry and what was on display. Mr Adermann said Husqvarna exhibited at this year’s conference with their auto mowers. “A number of other LSA industry partners were there – Sustainable Machinery and ICL Specialty Fertilisers,” he said. “But what really caught my eye was the innovation with new products coming to the market and everything that’s coming to the market today has a notable environmentally friendly aspect to it, getting away from the real hazardous and toxic chemicals in the industry. I think that was what was really noted and probably a real force for this conference.”

 6 / AGCSA 2019

Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre

“That was really interesting - the session was full. There was standing room only and went for two hours. What attendees left with was that zoysia is a grass of the future...” - Simon Adermann, Lawn Solutions Australia

David Doguet, owner of Blade Runner Farms in Poteet, Texas, spoke at two sessions at the conference. One, a workshop, focused on constructing a golf course and the second, a presentation on zoysia turf. Mr Adermann said Killara Golf Club Golf Course Superintendent Ryan Fury and Killara Golf Club architect Harley Kruse joined David for the workshop. “They conducted a workshop on golf course construction and it was really timely that Ryan Fury ran the workshop, but then led it into why he chose zoysia on his golf course,” he said. “David spoke about the construction of the Rio Olympics, where they built the course for the Olympics and how they grew the grass in Rio and a little bit about the site and how it was developed. That was really interesting the session was full. There was standing room only and went for two hours. What attendees left with was that zoysia is a grass of the future. The benefits it’s got for them, or, obviously for the golf courses, is lower maintenance, less inputs, you can halve your budget and you can still have a really good playable surface.”

David’s presentation concentrated on why zoysia is different and how it fits into golf courses. David has the largest private zoysia collection in the world, with over 500 varieties on trial at his facility, and his presentation was about how he founded zoysia, how he developed it and how he created Sir Grange (Zeon) Zoysia. David’s passion is golf, so he focused on golf and on some of the courses he’s working with overseas and here in Australia - Killara Golf Course, Teven Valley Golf Course and Indooroopilly Golf Club, to name a few. Mr Adermann said that David’s presentation was one of the most popular sessions at the conference, with some high-profile golf courses around Australia and overseas looking to trial zoysia. “It’s gaining traction, it’s getting popular and I think zoysia’s going to be the grass of the future,” he said. Presentations and the trade show continued on the final day of the conference, which was capped off with a “Farewell Bash”.

AGCSA 2019/ 7

The VRC Carnival Experience

A view from the rail looking down the straight toward the Cup Start

In 2009, the then VRC Racecourse Manager, Mick Goodie, approached Anco Turf with the idea of developing an award for young, aspiring track staff from around regional Australia. The award was designed to encourage track staff in their aspirations to become a track manager. Mick was observing a constant flow of potential good track managers leaving the industry due to a lack of opportunity and not seeing first hand what the industry had to offer at the higher end in a racetrack manager’s role.


His idea was to provide a suitable candidate the opportunity to become part of the Flemington track staff alongside himself for the duration of the VRC Spring Carnival. Shadowing Mick, the award winner would be privy to track renovations, rail movements, undertake the ‘Going Stick’ readings on race mornings, attend media sessions, meet trainer and jockey needs and observe whatever else occurred over the course of Cup Week. The award recipient would reside on course at Flemington, so as to be readily available at anytime

for whatever was required in the role of track manager during Australia’s biggest race week. Out of the 2009 discussion the “Anco Turf Racetrack Event Award” was born and an era of hands-on education for racetrack staff began. Anco Turf committed to sponsoring the award, which involves flights from anywhere around Australia, transport and accommodation during the carnival as well as some other expenses. In addition Anco organise a “Turf Tour” for the award winner to various premier sports venues and

Mick Goodie, the instigator of the Anco ARMA VRC Experience Award, prior to the start of the 2017 Melbourne Cup

racetracks such as the MCG, AAMI Park, Caulfield Racecourse and a behind the scenes Moonee Valley Friday night meeting prior to the VRC Derby meeting. A visit to the Clyde production farm of Anco is also undertaken where the awardee is taken through the turf production and harvesting process.

Green Moon returns to scale after winning the 2012 Melbourne Cup

The new grandstand and members lawn

The first recipient of the award was Liam O’Keeffe, who was at the time the racetrack manager at Warrnambool. Liam had the experience of a lifetime for an aspiring track manager when he spent the Cup week of 2010 under the tutelage of Mick Goodie. Looking back on his time, Liam stated, “It was unbelievable. As a country boy, coming to the big smoke for one of the largest racing carnivals in the world was an experience that benefitted not only myself, but also the Warrnambool Racing Club.” Mick Goodie was so impressed by Liam that in 2013 he appointed O’Keefe as his 2IC. Liam is now the track manager of Flemington and attributes the experience gained working with Mick as a major part of his education process and confidence to aspire to the role of a metropolitan track manager. In 2013 the award winner Chris Nation was the racecourse manager at Shoalhaven City Turf Club in Nowra. In his words “the experience of spending the carnival week at Flemington was in work terms - life changing. After spending a few years working at a country track, it re-ignited me and gave me a fresh outlook on the job.” The week at Flemington obviously inspired Chris to see just where he could take his career and he made the trek across the Nullarbor to WA where he is now the general manager of Racecourses and Grounds for Perth Racing.


The Cup field passes for the first time

Jonathan Cornelius the 2012 winner with Mike Maher of Turftrax UK

The 2019 ARMA (Australian Racecourse Managers Association) conference will be held in Hobart and again Anco will be sponsoring what is now called the Anco Turf – VRC Carnival Experience. The “Experience” program has a restructured itinerary for the awardee who will arrive on Friday, November 1 and fly home on Wednesday, November 6. The Experience begins at Flemington Racecourse, where the awardee will meet Liam O’Keeffe and Brendan Jackson and receive accreditation for the carnival. The awardee will attend Moonee Valley night races and the following morning, Derby Day. This will include an early morning track walk and ‘Going Stick’ readings with Mike Maher of Turftrax.


The award winner gets to visit the MCG for a personal tour including a centre pitch visit

The following day the awardee will be involved with a morning track walk and track preparations. A lunch with Melbourne metropolitan track managers and other industry participants will follow. On the Monday the awardee will attend a morning track walk, pre Melbourne Cup media functions and track preparations. The afternoon’s activities include visits to Caulfield Racecourse, the MCG, AAMI Park, Anco Turf Production Farm and other venues. Melbourne Cup Day will cap the awardee’s exciting experience. As a past winner, Liam O’Keefe is very keen for the “Anco - VRC Carnival Experience” to continue, and to ensure that Mick Goodie’s idea and legacy of “giving back” to the industry lives on.

The “Experience” award is still taking applications and we encourage all racing club general managers and track mangers to nominate a young, ambitious member of their staff to apply for the “Anco Turf – VRC Carnival Experience”. Applications will be received by entering an application form that is available on the ARMA website. The winning applicant will be chosen by a group comprising Liam O’Keeffe, ARMA and Anco Turf, and will be announced at the upcoming ARMA conference in Hobart. Written by Bruce Stephens


Hoiana Shores Golf Course


Sir Grange Zoysia turf nurseries and stunning golf courses featuring zoysia were highlights of a recent Lawn Solutions Australia study tour. LSA turf growers from across Australia visited facilities in Thailand and Vietnam that utilise emerging zoysia varieties like Sir Grange (Zeon) and Trinity (L1F).

Laem Chabang Golf Course

The LSA Group at Hoiana Shores Golf Course


The tour’s purpose was to educate the group about how these varieties are being implemented in sports turf environments (golf courses in particular) - how they are grown, harvested, installed and maintained. Attendees will use the knowledge gained to ensure great results both on their own farms for production and for end users.

Tracey Daniels, owner of The Turf Farm said of the tour, “It was a truly life-changing experience. Seeing how the grass varieties are grown and managed have provided me with the confidence and expertise to keep innovating in my business and empowering my customers to innovate as well.”

Zeon holding well in a bunker wall

Laem Chabang Golf Course

Sports Turf Solutions’ washing station

Sports Turf Solutions’ washing station

South East Asia is an incredibly important trading partner for many Australian industries and businesses and the turf industry is no different. Brad Burgess, CEO of Sports Turf Solutions (STS) joined the tour to provide some unique insights into the Southeast Asian market and his operations in the region. The group heard about how STS has achieved successful penetration of the Thai market through product differentiation. The group first headed to Laem Chabang Golf Course, one of the most revered golf courses in the entire region which was designed by none other than Jack Nicklaus himself. The transformation taking place at Thailand’s Laem Chabang International Country Club began as a trial of Sir Grange (Zeon) on just one shaded tee. STS is now charged with converting the entire 27 holes to Sir Grange (Zeon) and said the world-class layout began with Bermuda grass 30 years ago, then switched to paspalum, however neither was entirely successful. Mr Burgess encourages courses that are being returfed to have their own nursery on

Sports Turf Solutions’ sprig digger

site for expansion. The nursery farm at Laem Chabang is five years old, with 15ha of Sir Grange (Zeon) in production. STS supplies certified stolons to the nursery to plant an area at the course, which are then grown and harvested for use. The STS team stolonise at 1kg/4m2 and have cover in 90 days and a playable surface in 120 days. During the growing phase, they use a slicer to cut the existing plant material and accelerate growth by increasing growing points. To prevent thatch buildup, the team grooms the paddocks to pick up any leaf that has laid over to make the mowing more even and effective. The stolons are harvested and washed on site and packaged into 40kg boxes for transporting. Boxes are kept between zero and five degrees for transit and can survive up to three months in cold storage. STS can harvest up to five tonnes of sprigs from 5000m2 with a sprig digger and aerate the farm twice a year when machinery is available; there is no real preference for growth stage or season. They apply growth hormones during the grow-in to accelerate lateral coverage.

“It was a truly lifechanging experience” - Tracey Daniels, owner of The Turf Farm Mr Burgess said golf in Asia and the effects it is having on the turf industry was in a growth period. “Vietnam has been opened up to tourism and construction over the last 10 years, there are lots of investors coming in,” said Burgess. “There is a cap of 110 golf courses allowed in Vietnam so there is a race to get the land. There are 60 spots left and STS will do eight of them this year.” Mr Burgess said golf in Thailand was a big tourism industry November to March, attracting many Koreans and Japanese. “In Singapore, golf courses are closing down, but in Cambodia and many other surrounding Asian countries the industry is growing,” said Burgess. With the beautiful contrast between mowing heights (fairways cut at 8mm, tees at 12mm) on display at Laem Chabang’s renewed holes, there’s no doubt Sir Grange (Zeon) will play a part.


West Lakes Golf Course

West Lakes Golf Course Located 45km north of Ho Chi Minh City, West Lakes Golf Course (WLGC) was completed in October 2018. The championship course includes a total of 38 hectares of Sir Grange (Zeon) and 1.5 hectares of TifEagle. WLGC Superintendent Andrew Baker started work at the course in July 2018 and showed the group another fine example of Sir Grange (Zeon). Mr Baker informed the group that developers of the final Peter Thomson / Ross Perret designed layout imported five tonnes of Sir Grange (Zeon) from Thailand to build a nursery in the driving range area; the five tonnes of sprigs were placed into a three-hectare nursery, then hole 18 was also planted as a nursery to keep up with supply demands. South Australian-born Baker, through his association with the late Peter Thomson


(Australian professional golfer) has worked in Scotland, Milan, France, England, The US and Australia – 20 years in all. It’s his first time working with Sir Grange (Zeon).“It has been interesting working with Zeon, very different,” said Baker. Mr Baker said his team’s fertilisation program, which promoted strong lateral growth, was choking out most residual weeds and foreign grasses and the divot recovery was two to three weeks. “Zoysia has always had a legacy for very good shade tolerance and low fertiliser requirements,” said Baker “I have found you can fashion this grass around your needs and change its growth habits with different fertiliser regimes.” The caretaker said the fairways were mown at 10 to 16mm, rough areas at 25 to 44mm and tees at eight to 12mm.

“Twelve months ago I thought zoysia had no place in the golf industry, now after working with it first-hand, I can definitely see this being a heavily used golfing grass of the future,” he said. The superintendent said there were many challenges at the course, including irrigation water with a pH of about three. “Zeon seems to handle this well with no obvious negatives to date,” he said. “The soil is a different story and requires frequent deepslice aeration.” Mr Baker said that in the wet season the course could receive 300mm of rain per month and that to date his team had not used herbicides or pre-emergent on the course. The curator said problem areas were hand weeded save for an initial application of non-selective knockdown herbicides to suppress minor isolated cynodon contamination.

Hoiana Shores Golf Course World-famous golf course architect Robert Trent Jones II designed this 6767m links layout. With a golf course construction budget of US$13m, the developers aspire to have the course and facilities rated in the top 100 in the world. The multiphase development is set to include a casino and top-class accommodation. The layout itself includes a putting course near the clubhouse, which is suitable for children, and can be illuminated at night. A 19th playoff hole, also in view of the clubhouse, can be employed in the event social matches finish in a draw. Lanterns replace flags on pins to complement the Hoi An culture and to add a point of difference. Course/Project Superintendent Rob Weiks and turf farm/project manager John Gibb chaperoned the group on a walking tour of the former fish and cashew tree farm. Mr Weiks is originally from Redcliffe, Brisbane and was an apprentice at Gailes Golf Club, worked at Brookwater Golf Club as both a qualified greenkeeper and superintendent, and spent 2007 to 2015 overseas on courses in Dubai, Vietnam, China and Azerbaijan, then returned to Australia. Mr Weiks returned to Hoiana Shores in July 2018. Mr Gibb has been with Sports Turf Solutions (STS) for two years and previously worked in Vietnam (Chi Linh Golf Club).

Hoiana Shores Golf Course

Although still under construction, the site’s Sir Grange fairways and roughs looked stunning side by side, against the backdrop of sand and ocean. Mr Weiks and Mr Gibb also showed the group soil samples and provided detailed information on the construction, installation and management of the course.

Hoiana Shores is blessed with a very reliable and clean water supply for the golf course. In the dry season, the water table is down 45m, while in the wet season it is only down 30cm. The maintenance crew includes six irrigation staff – one head and five workers. They irrigate twice a day for growth and to suppress drift in the uncovered areas. The site can be very windy, so wetting agents are applied through irrigation to firm surfaces and hold water. The plan is for the course to be firm and fast - a true links course. All sand for the course construction has been dredged from the site’s lagoon. Grounds staff have 26.7ha of Sir Grange (Zeon) planted and 2.4ha of TifEagle. All the greens are TifEagle, mowed to 4mm, while the fairways (mown to 10mm), tees and roughs are Sir Grange (Zeon). The groundsmen use a program of verticutting to increase growth and firm up the fairways and can draw from a six-hectare Sir Grange (Zeon) nursery on site. Two native sedges and native cow grasses are used in the surrounds for landscaping. All fertiliser is foliar once the plants are grown in and pelletised manure is used to build organic matter in the sand base. Mr Weiks and Mr Gibb also showed attendees the Hoiana Shores STS Turf Nursery. The onsite turf nursery has 2.3 hectares of zeon, 2200m2 Trinity, 1400m2 of TifEagle and 3000m2 of Shogun Zoysia (local). The joint venture between Vina Capital, VMS Investment Group and Macau’s Suncity Group is expected to have a soft opening in early September.


Hoiana Shores Golf Course

This image and below: Golf Operations and Maintenance Vocational College

Hoiana Shores Golf Course

The group also visited the first turf college in Asia, founded with the help of Mr Weiks and STS.

Hoiana Shores Superintendent Rob Weiks helped set up the college and wrote the syllabus for the Diploma in Turf Grass Management.

The Golf Operations and Maintenance Vocational College in Quang Nam, Vietnam, is the only dedicated college for golf in Asia. Students are trained to fill typical golf course staffing roles, such as caddies, housekeepers, baristas and golf superintendents.

Mr Weiks said the college grounds used to be a vocational school for woodwork and embroidery and were very run down, but Hoi An South Development (HASD) and the local government worked together to update the college.

A spokesperson from Hoiana Shores said the college had trained 15 agronomy students, 18 were soon to graduate from the golf maintenance course, 15 had graduated from golf operations, while 26 were to graduate in mid-June and 26 students were enrolled in a housekeeping class.

“The college is all self-funded by HASD,” said Weiks. “STS donated machinery and equipment. The students have to pass 100 per cent during the course and 80 per cent in the final exam to qualify. The course is free for the participants and they receive a certified accreditation through the Vietnamese government on completion.”

A golf course has been set up on site for the students to maintain, including bunkers and a new TifEagle green.

Mr Weiks said he is developing a two-year assistant superintendent course syllabus for a 2020 roll-out and will have mechanic


and assistant superintendent training, also beginning in 2020. The Hoiana Shores spokesperson said an unskilled worker on the course could not take loans, however with the qualifications from the turf college, the workers would have credentials to give them standing for loans. The spokesperson said the plan was to reemploy the people that the Hoiana development displaced and offer training and jobs to the local community. Looking back on the tour Joe Rogers, technical manager, Lawn Solutions Australia said, “It was a fantastic experience for all of us. The insights the group received from each of the course superintendents will provide invaluable experience as we head back to Australia. Thanks to everyone who made the trip to Southeast Asia.”

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50 Years Leading the Way THE STRATHAYR STORY

Harvesting in the 1970s

StrathAyr is a pioneer in the Australian turf industry, a developer of natural turf technology and a world leader in sports turf management and construction. Recently celebrating half a century as a turf producer, StrathAyr has achieved remarkable successes over the years. StrathAyr is an industry leader in new and improved industry practices - developing technologies relating to washed turf, dropin wicket technology, sports field drainage, and product innovation. These products and systems developed by Strathayr have stood the test of time and continue to be utilised around the world. In 1968 the newly-formed StrathAyr adopted the name of the first turf farm owned by the Casimaty family, however, to tell the full StrathAyr story, we need to go further back in the family’s history books. Originally from Greece, the Casimatys migrated and settled in Tasmania just over


100 years ago. It was in Tasmania that the current owner’s grandfather found a rare metal, which was then used to make the tips of fountain pens. This began a show of family ingenuity across many business sectors. The family was then able to build and invest in their main business of cray fishing, gradually expanding to quite a large fleet of fishing boats. The successful cray fishing business enabled the Casimatys to invest in multiple blocks of land, which the sons acquired to start their own business ventures. Bill Casimaty used some of this land and started a turf farm, and so began StrathAyr as we know it today. In 1972 the business expanded to the turf farm and office in Melbourne. In 1988 StrathAyr began operating internationally, with works requiring their specialised expertise required in the UK, Asia and the US.

StrathAyr is an incredible pioneer for the Australian turf industry. The innovation and ingenuity continues to run through the business as it has for the past 50 years.

Development of BAyr Root (soil-free) Turf After some problems with using normal soiled turf on Waverley Park in Melbourne StrathAyr bought the patent for washed turf from Ben Warren from the US and further developed the concept, aptly named BAyr Root Turf. The turf washing process involved carefully removing the soil from the turf using their specialised washing machinery, cleaning the soil away from the roots. This significantly reduced the weight of the turf, and eliminated the problem of soil from the turf contaminating the profile underneath. Haka ladies laying turf at Hong Kong Jockey Club, 1990

Turf washing at Seymour

One of StrathAyr’s most incredible feats was when BAyr Root Turf was air freighted from Australia to Hong Kong for the resurfacing of the Sha Tin Racetrack for the Hong Kong Jockey Club. More than 20 jumbo jets transported turf from the StrathAyr farm to Hong Kong for the project. During these years StrathAyr focused on sportsground technologies and took these to the world wherever big sporting grounds or racetracks were being developed, Lord’s, Malaysia, The Hong Kong Jockey Club, Singapore Turf Club, Houston Texans NFL Ground, Moonee Valley, Suncorp Stadium – StrathAyr was the go-to turf solution business for these iconic sporting surfaces across the globe. Portable Cricket Wickets using TransportAyr

TransportAyr at Optus Oval

In the mid-‘90s, StrathAyr started focusing more on cricket grounds. During this time, they developed the removable cricket pitch - a solution to manage the crossover between the cricket and AFL seasons. Developing this drop-in technology took a lot of trial and error and building of their own machines, including the development of TransportAyr for transporting the wickets. Each wicket, is incredibly, transported in one piece - a display of outstanding ingenuity to innovate a piece of machinery to transport a 25-metre, 3-metre wide and 200mm deep slab. TransportAyr is a purpose-built low flotation machine, which has been designed to have minimal impact on the surrounding playing surface during installation and removal. Iconic grounds, such as the MCG, Eden Park in NZ, and Adelaide Oval have their pitches installed by StrathAyr using the TransportAyr system.


Adelaide Oval in 2013 demonstrates a full system - Field, Portable Wickets and TransportAyr

Hong Kong Stadium

Reinforced sand profile design using ReFlex Mesh Elements There was once a time when sportsgrounds resembled mud pits – the iconic image of Norm Provan and Arthur Summons covered in mud in the 1963 Rugby League Grand Final springs to mind - and the need for a surface capable of absorbing large amounts of water was required. StrathAyr pioneered development in this area also, with the application of a reinforced sand profile sports field system based on sand with the use of a perched water table. After considerable trials and adjustments 35 years ago, Strathayr perfected it. The upper rootzone of the turf is reinforced with ReFlex Mesh Elements where soil particles interlock with the mesh. This creates a surface that springs back when the elements flex vertically. The void that is created along the mesh elements


enhances water retention. Combine this with the StrathAyr Sportsfield system that includes a gravel drainage layer and subsurface pipe drainage and you have the perfect sporting and horse racing surface, rain, hail or shine. Not one event anywhere in the world with this system has ever been cancelled due to excessive water.

borrowed an elephant to show just how remarkable his product was. Two sandbased surfaces were placed side by side, with one utilising ReFlex Mesh Elements and the other without. He then had the elephant walk across both surfaces… the ReFlex surface stayed firm and together, the other was smashed apart.

ReFlex explained… with an Elephant.

Turf Evolution

Bill Casimaty was an incredibly innovative man, and this was no more evident than when he borrowed an elephant to demonstrate how effective ReFlex Mesh Elements are! StrathAyr explains the system using a sandcastle analogy. If you were to build a sandcastle with ReFlex Mesh Elements and one without, the sandcastle with the mesh elements would hold together when the other one simply couldn’t. To demonstrate this on a grand scale, Bill needed an elephant. Upon hearing that there was a circus in town, Bill

StrathAyr is also a leading turf supplier to the domestic market. Early turf varieties were mainly cool season types including tall fescue and kentucky blue - turf varieties that were ideal for the cooler climate areas of Victoria and Tasmania where StrathAyr is based. These products achieved significant success, until the developing drought period about 15 years ago. This meant that a shift was required to warm season varieties that had better drought tolerance and durability as well, for a very cold climate.

This began StrathAyr’s alignment with Sir Walter Soft Leaf Buffalo and continued involvement through the introduction of Lawn Solutions Australia (LSA). This relationship has provided StrathAyr access to the best new turf varieties available in the world, including Sir Grange and TifTuf. LSA is an accredited group of the best turf suppliers in Australia and StrathAyr is more than at home among such company as one of Australia’s best.

Hong Kong Jockey Club, Guangzhou

StrathAyr Into the Future In recent years Bill passed the StrathAyr baton to his children, with his son Frank steering the ship as the managing director for the business. Generational change has brought about significant modernisation with cutting edge technology, marketing and digital advancements, to ensure they are leading the way when it comes to product innovation, business functions and customer interaction in an ever-advancing digital world. StrathAyr have identified the need to make it easier for trade and domestic customers to order what they want, when they want it. Customers can choose turf type, delivery date and time, with it all linked to the harvesting schedule and transportation logistics, all at the click of a button. This move has encouraged full transparency for the customer to see the status of their order and where their order is on the road right up until delivery. StrathAyr is an incredible pioneer for the Australian turf industry. The innovation and ingenuity continues to run through the business as it has for the past 50 years. StrathAyr is excited to continue its work with sporting grounds, racetracks and golf courses and explore new opportunities with turf varieties in new markets.

Lawn covered old tram Moomba float in Melbourne

The 2005 Davis Cup was played on a portable grass court

In May the entire StrathAyr team and their families celebrated StrathAyr’s 50th anniversary at the StrathAyr farm in Tasmania. General Manager David Thomson said the birthday bash was well received. “Highlights of the night were the giant bonfire, an impressive fireworks display by Frank Casimaty, the thrill of letting off a few firecrackers and also the superb catering which kept everybody well fed,“ he said. “There were a lot of people catching up, reliving the StrathAyr history, telling stories from the past as well as much discussion and excitement about the future.”


Bill Casimaty with turf to be flown to Hong Kong, 1990

Bill Casimaty, Turf Industry Pioneer Bill Casimaty A.M was a giant in the Australian turf industry. The founder of StrathAyr pioneered turf farming practices that have been utilised around the world. Indeed, Bill’s pursuit of innovation and his marketing exploits propelled StrathAyr to the pinnacle of the sports turf industry. Sadly, Bill passed away at the age of 84, less than a month after interviewing him for this article. Describing himself at the time


as semi-retired, he was still marketing turf in his final weeks. Bill lived on a beautiful property of several thousand acres in Richmond, Tasmania. It dates back to the early 1800s. In the 1850s the property produced hops to make beer for the convicts; the house, in fact, was a hop kiln. A century later, Bill Casimaty A.M started farming the property, but turf was not his

first crop. He was initially concerned about the small market size and farmed all sorts of crops and animals, including mushrooms, evening primrose, poppies, and sheep. However by 1968, a water shortage and strong competition forced Bill to move away from his mushroom crop. He turned to turf in one of the smallest turf markets in Australia. The name StrathAyr came from the original Scottish settlers that founded the property.

greatly. He cited Ben Warren, a pioneer of turf in the Chicago area, as one of them. Bill said he learned some concepts from Mr Warren that had failed in the US market, such as washed turf, and had had success here using his initial concepts and adapting them for the Australian market. Bill acquired the patent for the washed turf technology; most of his other patents were based on StrathAyr’s own in-house developments. Bill said research by US Professor James Beard also guided him greatly. “There’s a lot of science in the StrathAyr systems, there’s a lot more to it than just washing turf,” he said. “The scientific approach in a non-scientific area of the past (sports fields) and the improvements that have been developed have been the result of these associations,” he said. The Casimaty property dates back to the 1800’s Tasmania’s west coast is known for its mining and early on in his turf career Bill and StrathAyr helped to gentrify the miners’ families’ yards, making them “much more aesthetically pleasing, more like small settled villages”. “Getting the mining industry involved was very productive,” Bill said. In the early years StrathAyr concentrated on home lawns, a market in which they were quite successful, before turning their attention to the sports turf industry. By 1972 Bill had expanded the business to Victoria.

Bill Casimaty at home in Tasmania

StrathAyr’s first major sports turf job was completing the outfield of the MCG for Kerry Packer’s World Series Cricket. StrathAyr have maintained involvement with cricket wickets ever since. Sports turf has played a major part in the StrathAyr story, but the business has also had great success in the domestic market, which was also driven by Bill’s innovation and marketing. In his 50-year turf career, Bill met a lot of people, some of whom influenced him

Bill said the biggest change he had noticed over the years was the mechanisation of the industry, however he said there remained a need for solutions to turf problems and StrathAyr continued to identify and innovate for them. Son Frank continues Bill’s legacy and sees further opportunity for StrathAyr in race tracks and sports fields and anticipates continued work internationally. The Casimaty family also continue to produce wine and poppies, enterprises Bill began many years ago. Bill Casimaty A.M was inducted into the LSA Hall of Fame at the recent 2019 LSA Conference. Bill is just the third person to be recognized and joins Keith Kennedy from President Turf and Charlie Courtney from Courtney Turf. LSA’s Gavin Rogers applauded Bill’s considerable achievements. “On behalf of Lawn Solutions and our entire growers group comprising about 250 people, we thank Bill for sharing his story and his pioneering efforts in the sports turf market and in the turf industry as a whole,” he said. “We wish to extend our condolences to the Casimaty family for their recent loss; Bill was much loved and will be sadly missed.”


Yarramalong Turf embody innovation What began as a “fun strip of sunflowers” has blossomed into a sensation at Yarramalong Turf. Allan and Renai Doggett had big plans for the Wyong, NSW turf farm when they took the helm in September, 2018. Less than a year later, they are breaking new ground. “To begin with my wife started our Turf Hut espresso,” Allan said. “That has been a great way of starting to open the farm to other opportunities and also a great way to get to know more locals and tourists alike. Having a farm that is not only productive as a turf farm but could also be a place where people can come and enjoy what we get to experience every day seemed like a good idea. The open space, the country feel and yet literally minutes from the M1 at Tuggerah

(75kms south of Newcastle) was just waiting for new avenues to be explored. Combine this with the layout of the farm. We are not just a big flat square in the middle of a heap of other squares, our rear boundary is Wyong creek and follows its twists and turns, so there are so many areas that may not be great for growing turf but are perfect quirky little spots for other activities.” Coffee may have started conversations, but what’s really got tongues wagging is Yarramalong’s sunflower harvests. “Initially there was an idea by a staff member for a green manure crop before replanting in paddocks that were in fallow,” Allan said. “It was suggested millet, ground breaking radishes and for a bit of fun a strip of sunflowers.”


Allan had drawn a positive response with sunflowers in the past. “When I was an apprentice there was a house on the main road at Lisarow,” he said. “They have a little road side store set up that I used to buy my girlfriend - now wife of 22 years sunflowers on my way home from work. So I thought as a surprise for my wife and my kids, definitely throw the sunflowers in.” “Unbeknown to us people were stopping on the side of the road, jumping in the field and taking selfies,” he said. “This became known to us as they started appearing all over Facebook and Instagram, along with comments thanking us for putting them in. Social media surprises suggested sunflowers were a solid selection. That is

Left and right: Early set up for Mother’s Day weekend at Yarramalong

when we decided that if we were going to do it, we should do it properly and create an environment that was not only fun but safe for people to enjoy.” Interest in the January harvest was “overwhelming”. Social media may have played a part again in the second harvest day on the Mother’s Day weekend. “We had a car counter and averaged out over 1000 cars an hour for the eight hours, so I guess that means there was a lot of people who got to enjoy the day,” Allan said. “Some stayed just long enough to grab a big bunch, others just got some pics and others hung out on a picnic rug and soaked up the atmosphere for hours.” The turf farmer said his whole family got involved with the entire operation. “The crops have all to this stage been planted by hand mostly by my wife, myself and our kids and also Glen and his family that reside at the farm and are also a big part of the harvest day,” he said. “We deep rip the paddock, run the tynes, rotary hoe, plant, and then roll the seeds in. It is a fun thing to get out in the paddock, enjoy family time and the results speak for themselves. The kids were really proud of themselves when they had a paddock full of sunflowers. The idea is that you can come enjoy the day - parking is free, it’s free to walk the

field and take pics; if you would like to take a sunflower home it is $1 per stem. Having five kids and our sixth on the way I know how hard it can be to find things to do with a family when you are on a budget. It was really important to us to make this something everyone could enjoy. Most importantly, without the team we have on the farm being both family, friends and employees, none of this would be possible.” Allan said his team would use their fertile imaginations for future harvest days. “It is a dynamic event and is still in its infancy,” he said. “We have some plans moving forward to incorporate some other things into the day. On our most recent harvest we had the sunflowers, an LSA display showcasing our newest grass varieties, the turf hut espresso, barbecue, live music, local beekeeper selling their honey, local fresh produce grown at Kulnura, Trader Vic’s stand (local surf shop), jumping castles and even pony rides.” The enterprising farmer said Yarramalong had received positive feedback from local businesses who had benefited from the harvest days through increased trade, and the events brought people from not only Sydney and Newcastle but also further afield. Allan said charities had also benefited from the events and money is being reinvested.

“Some stayed just long enough to grab a big bunch, others just got some pics and others hung out on a picnic rug and soaked up the atmosphere for hours.” - Allan Doggett

“We have made some direct donations to charities on behalf of the harvest, as well as donating flowers and time to multiple, smaller, more personal events,” he said. “It has been an absolute pleasure to be able to do this. We are now reinvesting into attaining all the appropriate permits for an event this size and are in the process of working with the council to make “YTs (Yarramalong Turf’s) Central Coast Sunflower Harvest” a must-do for locals and tourists well into the future. We also have other farm events in the making so it’s definitely an exciting time for the farm.”


Sorrento Golf Course


The 19th Hole Written by Bruce Stephens Sullivan Bay Sorrento, located on the Mornington Peninsula, is the home of Victoria’s first mainland European settlement, established 30 years before Melbourne was founded. Abandoned in 1804 due to a lack of fresh water, it wasn’t until 1835 and the subsequent growth of Melbourne that the Peninsula started to be used and settled by pastoralists. These early inhabitants later found that the production of lime from the limestone rock, abundant in the calcareous sands of the region, was more financially rewarding than grazing and began producing it to service the burgeoning Melbourne of the time.

Sorrento is located at the southern end of the Mornington Peninsula, about an hour’s drive from Melbourne. The region is home to a plethora of first-class golf courses, such as The National, Cape Schanck, Portsea, The Dunes and Moonah Links, where the 2003 and 2005 Australian Opens were played. “The Peninsula”, as it is colloquially known is a wish list destination for those afflicted with the golfing disease. Another of the area’s oldest and most prestigious golf courses is the Sorrento Golf Club, established in 1907 at a time when the popular seaside town had become a premier holiday destination for Melburnians.


Proposed 19th Hole Grading Plan

The Clubhouse with its Limestone extension sourced from previous course upgrades.

The limestone pile will be used to build sand boxes and seats around the course.

Sorrento Golf Course

As recorded in Brendan Moloney’s Sorrento Golf Club: the First 100 Years, the club secretary in August 1907 reported “the tees and putting greens had been sown with lawn grasses and showed evidence of being ready for use by the end of October”. Sorrento Golf Club was on its way. Fast forward to 2018 and Shane Greenhill, the course superintendent, of which Sorrento has only had eight, was entrusted with the daunting task of creating a 19th hole to provide a backup hole for the course, should the need arise. Greenhill, who holds a Bachelor of Science and comes from a golfing family, was the top Victorian turf apprentice for his three years of training and furthered his turf education with an advanced certificate and diploma. It could be said that Shane Greenhill had the perfect background to produce the plan for the 19th hole given the intricacies in documentation that the regional Council requires for revegetation and construction permits to be granted.


The Mornington Peninsula is an environmentally significant area and the local Council is stringent in their requirements for development around areas of any native vegetation. A major part of the planning stage for the new hole and a necessary requirement by local Council was the development of a Vegetation Management Plan (VMP). Without this VMP, permits for construction of the new hole would not be granted. The Sorrento Golf course is abundant with significant remnant vegetation and ensuring its survival formed a major part of planning for the 19th’s construction permits. As Greenhill told us: “We had to undertake a ‘Native Vegetation Assessment’ on the 19th, which was on top of the course Vegetation Management Plan (VMP) (2012) that we already had. “This assessment had to be completed because we were changing the vegetation agreement with council within the VMP.

As we could not offset the loss of vegetation within our course, we had to pay for offset re-vegetation within the Port Phillip and Westernport Catchment Management area. A report was carried out by vegetation assessment consultants on our behalf to the satisfaction of Council”. Greenhill estimates that it took him two 38 hour weeks to secure the documentation and information to organise planning permit requirements. Local Council arborists and consultants have a valuation system for any vegetation, including trees that may be located on the planned development sites and if any are deemed removable then they are given a native vegetation credit price. A specialised broker then sources an area such as a local farm to replant with the same vegetation type before approval by Council. Once a “like for like” removal and planting plan has been developed the approval is given to proceed.

The golf course and region are sporadically forested with the Melaleuca lanceolata tree, commonly known as the Moonah Tree. There were three such trees of vegetative significance located on the left-hand side of the planned 19th hole and a root protection zone was established around the trees prior to any earthworks and formed part of the planning stage requirements. The soil type of the Sorrento Golf Course varies from what is known as a Portsea dark loam with a pH of 8.8, to a gold angular sand known as Rye sand that varies from 8.2 to 6.2 in pH. The high pH reflects the area’s limestone presence. These high soil pH levels pose difficulties for any person managing sportsturf in the region. The nutritional deficiencies and lockup of certain elements demand a stringent and specific fertility program to ensure healthy turf. Additional iron and manganese applications play a key role in ensuring turf health in these calcareous sands. During construction of the 19th and past works on the course, limestone ridges were uncovered. Some of this limestone was used in the construction of the clubhouse and its more recent renovation. The limestone found during construction of the 19th has been stockpiled and the plan is to use it for sand boxes and seats around the course. During the planning stages Greenhill was considering what grass to use on the fairway and tee complex. Having listened to presentations at VGCSA meetings from Anco Turf and Simon Adermann from Lawn Solutions as well doing his own private research, he came to the decision to try the new TifTuf Bermuda. In his words: “the new hole provided the perfect opportunity

to try the new grass in a real life situation in Sorrento’s varied soil types. The hole would prove if the grass could perform in the local environment and flourish under the irrigation source”. It was to be in effect a life-size trial for TifTuf which more often than not provide a better local idea of a grass’s ability than replicated trials positioned in other localities with differing soil types and water qualities. Water for irrigation at Sorrento Golf Club is a mix of run-off and bore water. An onsite treatment plant is used to desalinate the water to tolerable levels. During dry periods and previous to the installation of the treatment plant, the soil would reflect its irrigation water source through high sodium levels. Once planning was granted for construction, works began in September, 2018. The 19th hole was opened for play, in March 2019. In the interim, following the turfing of the fairway and tee with Tiftuf, the new turf was scalped to remove any thatch accumulation and top-dressed to provide a perfectly smooth playing surface. Once recovered the fairway was cut at 10mm and the tee at 7mm. The Sorrento Golf Club, has a four-year membership waiting list reflecting the quality of the course. It is heavily used for a private course, with thirty-four thousand rounds being played annually. From its humble beginnings in 1907 on its seeded fairways, to the latest grass in TifTuf adorning its newest hole, “the 19TH”, Sorrento Golf Club has certainly weathered the storms of Victoria’s famed golfing destination, the Mornington Peninsula.


Through this story: Demonstrations were held on the field

The Field Day was held at Campbelltown Stadium

A Day to Remember GHG FIELD DAY 2019  30 / GHG FIELD DAY

Green Horticultural Group (GHG) recently held their annual Field Day at Campbelltown Stadium, with thanks to Cambelltown Council. Located in south-west Sydney, the stadium is the home ground to the NRL’s Wests Tigers and is maintained by GHG’s sports turf maintenance team. Constructing, maintaining and presenting top grade turf was the underlying theme of GHG Field Day 2019. There were plenty of exhibitor stands and attendees received the latest news and product information from respected brands such as Benedict Sand and Gravel, Lawn Solutions Australia, Rainbird, Simplot and Toro, to name a few. GHG’s Sally Green said the purpose of the field day, the third for the group, was “to educate those in the industry of new and advanced turf services, products, research and advancements – both now and in the future”.

TV celebrity Jason Hodges entertained the room with anecdotes of his younger days as a landscaper. Guest speaker and HG Turf’s Erik Kinlon took everyone on the amazing journey of constructing the new surface at Bankwest Stadium, located in Parramatta, Sydney. Soil scientist and Benedict Sand and Gravel’s Murray Fraser enlightened the attendees on the benefits of using recycled sands and soils to reduce the strain on natural resources.

for producing quality turf surfaces. Panel members spoke about the importance of good drainage and good soil as well as the importance of a good maintenance program. Jason fielded questions relating to marketing turf and public relations. Jason spoke about the health benefits (physical and mental) of lawn and how good grass enhances street appeal and how important this is for councils regarding public perception and keeping ratepayers happy.

‘Live’ on-field demonstrations featured, with experts from leading plant and equipment suppliers, with GHG’s Sports Turf Manager Michael Sutton overseeing the proceedings. Some interesting products displayed were Club Cadet’s cylinder turf mower and Toro’s laser controlled sports field marker that incorporates GPS technology.

Open space specialists, GHG began in 1998 and won its first major contract growing turf for Sydney’s Olympic Stadium. Based in Sydney, the business offers construction and renovation services of sports surfaces and recreational areas, as well as the maintenance of them. GHG services schools and universities, local governments, racecourses and sporting groups, public parks and gardens.

A panel discussion was led by Jason Hodges and focused on the best methods


New formulation provides turf the best of both worlds

Anyone who’s ever used fertilisers knows you have to water and wait … but why? What if you could just spray a fertiliser that makes your turf instantly green? This was the question Luke Jacobs asked himself every time he did yard work. What the Green Up Services Executive Director also wanted was something that worked like a paint or stain but gave grass the necessary nutrients to sustain its health. He looked for something similar on the market but came up empty-handed; then he developed the formula for Colourguard PLUS.

An avid golfer, Luke said he knew dyes and pigments were used by golf courses, but when used alone provided only short-term colour and no nutritional benefit to the turf. The new ColourGuard PLUS formulation solves this problem. “By combining a robust blend of vital micronutrients with organically derived pigment, Colourguard PLUS acts like a paint or stain and a fertiliser at the same time,” he said. “The nutrients in this formula provide over 6.7% nitrogen, of which 3.7% is organically derived from other plant material, 6% magnesium, 7.8%


sulfur, 4% iron, 2% manganese, 1% zinc and trace amounts of boron and copper. These are nutrients not found in most common fertilisers because of their high costs. However, these elements are critical to enhance chlorophyll production and strengthen the roots of the plant.” The pigment in Colourguard PLUS is designed to not only enhance the turf colour, but has added benefits. It works like a sunscreen for grass by absorbing the harmful UVB rays in warm months, and as a blanket that absorbs more heat in the cooler months.

Who can use it? Golf courses, turf farms, sports fields, commercial properties, home gardeners and lawn lovers everywhere. Changing what’s possible for fertilisers. When applied correctly, this new formula means never seeing grass that is less than perfect, no matter what time of year or weather condition Mother Nature has to throw at it. It’s approved for use in drought or extreme high and low temperature

conditions. ColourGuard PLUS gives your grass the best of both worlds - colour and nutrition restoration. Luke said there were more benefits users wouldn’t see until they had used it. “For instance, when used bi-monthly or quarterly you can reduce running your sprinklers as much as 50%,” he said. “This in turn means naturally slowing the growth rate of your grass by giving it less water. Less watering means slower growth. Slower growth means less mowing. Less mowing means saving time and money.”

ColourGuard Plus is designed to not only enhance the turf colour, but has added benefits.



AusGAP has been created for the country’s leading turfgrass producers to provide consumers with assurance that their turf adheres to a stringent set of quality standards.

compliance program, while individual paddocks and turf varieties will be certified separately.

The turf quality program has now been upgraded to include an even higher level of turf certification and business compliance. Furthermore, a new section covers the new ‘Chain of Responsibility’ laws.

Individual varietal turf certification is becoming more important now with the recent introduction of new varieties that have been brought into the market, because specific genetic traits must be retained.

What you need to know…

The refreshed turf certification highlights the traceability and proof of the origin of each crop. Now, each grass that is produced on an AusGAP Certified farm will be guaranteed under the quality assurance accreditation, but only the grasses that have been brought in under the AusGAP program with absolute proof of origin can claim certification.

AusGAP has been further developed to strengthen turf certification. Until now, businesses were AusGAP certified under an all-inclusive program that combined business compliances and turf certification; the two will now be separate. The separation means turf business compliance such as licensing, chemical storage and handling, work, health and safety, Chain of Responsibility laws, etc, will fall under the AusGAP business certification, basically a quality assurance and business


Key details of the turf certification program: •

No turf that is sold as AusGAP certified will be more than three generations from the original-breeder material. This can be traced through the program’s system of inspections and paperwork.

Turf varieties TifTuf Hybrid Bermuda, Sir Grange Zoysia, Sir Walter DNA Certified and Eureka PBR kikuyu are all in the current certification program and all new varieties will be included.

Foundation material for each of the certified varieties is closely monitored and all plantings of these varieties must be sourced from this foundation stock.

All turf that is sold from an AusGAP accredited turf farm will be accompanied by a product warranty.

Not only will all certified turf come with the product warranty, it will also carry an AusGAP certification certificate guaranteeing the genetic purity of that stock.

Why the changes to turf certification?

On top of the quality assurance guarantee, the certified varieties will be guaranteed to be true to turf type. These will show the exact traits and appearance of the first selection of that variety.

EXPANSION PROTOCOLS BREEDERS MATERIAL Original stock A small amount of grass is kept as a genetic resource in a designated location to ensure a pure strain of the variety is always available if there is ever a need to re-establish the variety due to contamination, crosspollination or mutation.

FOUNDATION FIELDS First generation The first expansion of the new grass into a commercial quantity. The foundation farm is where all planting stock is sourced for expansion onto other farms.

REGISTERED FIELDS Second generation An expansion of the grass from the foundation fields (foundation farm) is classified as a registered crop. Registered material can be used for commercial sale, or as expansion material on that particular farm.

CERTIFIED FIELDS Third generation This is stock that is only to be sold commercially and cannot be used for expansion.

On top of the quality assurance guarantee, the certified varieties will be guaranteed to be true to turf type.

Why the changes to business accreditation? The business accreditation covers all statutory compliances and general quality assurance, so each square metre of turf that is produced under the AusGAP program is guaranteed to be harvested in the best condition possible, free from weeds and off-type varieties and visually free from pests and disease damage. The introduction of the new Chain of Responsibility (COR) laws, among others,

initiated a need for an executive edit of the AusGAP compliance guidelines. This will include updating AusGAP guidelines to encompass any new statutory requirements that affect turf farmers and their staff. AusGAP staff are working with the involved turf farms to bring all requirements into line with the new program. To find out more about the greatly improved AusGAP program, get in touch with AusGAP Manager Nick Dorney:


Day 2 of the conference opens at Grech’s Turf with some words from Neale Tweedie

Turf Australia National Conference Written by Jenny Zadro The end of May saw over 100 turf growers meet in Sydney for the Turf Australia National Conference. The theme of this year’s conference was ‘Together, Today & Tomorrow’, with a focus on working together to build our industry. Turf Australia Chairman Ross Boyle opened the event with an inspiring message: “It doesn’t matter where you’ve come from, or what you sell. It doesn’t matter which camp or group you are in. We need to come together as one industry, to lobby government, to defend our product and to share the benefits of a clean, green urban environment.” Day one of the event saw a number of presentations covering on-farm production

topics as well as updates on turf levy funded projects. The importance of meeting regulations and safety standards while transporting turf is vital to keep turf businesses operating profitably and Tim Hansen from the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator and Mark Leach from Roads and Maritime Services presented on the topic of turf transportation. The sports turf industry is dealing with a major problem, which Environmental Scientist Dr Mick Battam refers to as the ‘myth of overuse’. While sports fields are certainly high-traffic areas, the level of use they are actually receiving, and the ability of turf to withstand this traffic is grossly misunderstood and miscalculated. The purpose of his session was to equip growers with the facts behind the use of turf for high-


use amateur sports fields, and to ensure natural turfgrass remains the product of choice for councils and clubs in charge of sports fields. Work place safety is a topic that needs to take priority in every turf production business and we were fortunate to have Gavin Rogers share the difficult story of legal proceedings that took place following a tragic incident at the Turfco farm. “We might be turf growers, but our number one priority and most important job, is safety,” Gavin, said. Following the incident, Gavin and his business were subject to intense scrutiny and litigation over a number of years and this naturally took its toll on his business and staff. Sharing his learnings ensures

Equipment demonstrations

individuals are aware of best practice safety, and enforcing the widespread adoption of safety practices. Gavin also reinforced the importance of being able to communicate these measures to authorities.

Equipment demonstrations

Day 1 talks

There was a lot of discussion held during the presentation by Associate Professor Andrew Geering on the turf levy funded project reviewing couch smut as well as his initial findings in the buffalo yellowing issues that are facing growers, particularly in NSW. The yellowing issue is having a significant impact on some farms and much work is to be done to come up with all the answers and this will be undertaken with a new turf levy project. Day two of the conference started with a tour of the new Bankwest Stadium followed by an action packed field day at Grech’s turf in Windsor, with demonstrations, talks, machinery and exhibition of products. The farm was looking spectacular and it was a great way to wrap up the conference.

Grech’s Turf hosts day 2 field day

Turf Australia are grateful to the companies who supported the event and to the delegates who attended the conference. Further information on the conference is in the winter edition of Turf Australia magazine and presentations are available on the Turf Australia website.


Coogee Beach

Conference attendees



Conference attendees

Conference attendees

Lynelle Boyle of Rosemount Turf and Sarah Mason of Coast Turf

The concept behind the new initiative of Women In Turf conference was that women are represented in many aspects of the turf industry and that by coming together, they could learn from one another to help develop the businesses they work in and for. Those who attended the conference had a range of experience in the industry – from newcomers to those with decades of industry knowledge. The common factor for all at the event was that they were all very engaged, passionate and keen to learn and share. There was a variety of informative and engaging topics discussed at the event, from payroll tax, work health and safety to mental health but the resounding success of the event was listening to the stories of our women in the industry. Lynelle Boyle of Rosemount Turf, Suz Shearer of Coolabah Turf and Sarah Mason of Coast Turf all shared

their individual stories of how they were either married or born into turf farming. They were very generous in sharing their stories, their challenges and their successes. There were many highlights of the event but a few significant moments were: the youngest member of Women In Turf, little Addison Baker who sat through the whole conference and was a complete delight- one very happy little girl! Seeing ladies who hadn’t met previously open up to each other and share ideas, experiences and laughs and, finally, a great quote from one of the ladies, “finally I don’t feel alone”. The success of the event was evident when asked what the ladies wanted for future events. It was agreed that the event continue annually and be held early in the year. So, plans are underway for the 2020 event.

... women are represented in many aspects of the turf industry and that by coming together, they could learn from one another to help develop the businesses they work in and for. The group has a Facebook page: Women in Turf Australia. All ladies of the industry are welcome to join the group and share ideas, stories and have a laugh.


Environmental Science Scholar an Asset to Turf Industry ACEDD SCHOLARS AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE – MS JILL BERRY

Ms Berry is a passionate advocate for turf and green space. She has developed a wealth of knowledge through her work within the turf industry and throughout her studies in environmental science. Recently Ms Berry received a Scholars Award from the Australian Council of Environmental Deans and Directors (ACEDD) in recognition for her outstanding performance and potential among undergraduates taking environmental degrees in Australia. The ACEDD is a body comprising Australian university educators who manage environmental courses and programs. Ms Berry began her career in the turf industry in 2004 as a grower liaison officer for Sir Walter turf, following 10 years in a management role in the hospitality industry. In the newly created position she oversaw sales and administration for Buchanan Turf Supplies. “It was a much calmer environment than what I was used to, however still quite manic at times,” she said. Ms Berry said she had had interesting and varied roles over the past 15 years, and was very happy in her current position at AGTurf. “I’ve worked behind the scenes on many projects which are an integral part of the business now, and they’ve come so far you almost forget where they began,” she said. “Facets like the branded fertiliser and online store - to look at where they are now, to think they began with a small advertisement on the Sir Walter website inviting customers to email through an order for a single product line which was the 10kg bucket, to the Lawn Solutions range in its entirety now. The progression from Sir Walter to


LSA was an exciting period, being in the salt mine watching an idea grow and become a driving force within the industry was really a credit to all concerned. My decision to step back was personal, and I was lucky to be able to do so and stay within the business too. It’s also great to see my previous role now filled by very capable colleagues who are doing great things for LSA. I’m back where I belong now and I really enjoy being back on the front line at AGTurf, because I think sometimes when you end up on the outward leaning branches you forget what’s holding you up. So to have the opportunity to be both back working with our customers, to give them a lawn they love,

Jill Berry receives her award

that is so very rewarding. I’ve always been a hands on deck person, and I think I started missing that too along the journey.” Reflecting on the industry, the environmental science graduate said Sir Walter turf began a positive change for growers. “When I first started with Sir Walter, there were growers who were really out there, making a name for themselves, acknowledging their customers and building their businesses,” she said. “Then there were those which just kind of existed; they were just a turf farm, growing grass and selling it. Sir Walter changed the industry for

Jill Berry

the better, it pushed the limits; it brought hope back into the backyard. It made people lawn proud, and suddenly there was a brand awareness that never existed before. It brought businesses together, taught them to work together, to treat their competitors as allies rather than enemies. Then enter LSA and you have everyone working together for the common goal.” Seven years ago Ms Berry thought her role with Sir Walter would end with the expiry of the Plant Breeders Rights. She was proactive, however, and enrolled in parttime, off campus study with the University of New England in a Bachelor of GeoScience. “This method of study allowed me to continue to work full-time whilst completing my degree,” she said. “It was a hectic lifestyle but it was manageable. I did find it hard at first, having been out of school for over 20 years, so learning to write essays and study for exams were initially a challenge. I did however totally blow myself away with gaining a mark of 98% in maths in my first trimester. My main hurdle early on was the art of scientific writing, since I’d spent the last 20 years writing ‘fluffy’ copy for advertisements aimed at mums and dads. I battled on though, and progressively my skills improved along with my knowledge. After around 18 months of study, I decided geology wasn’t really for me, and that I much preferred the more ecologically based subjects and plant and soil sciences, so I made the decision to transfer to a Bachelor of Environmental Science instead. This happened around the time I moved to Berry to join the LSA team for 15 months before returning to the

AGTurf farm

Hunter. Around this time I also studied a number of Cert IV courses which I’d take on over the Christmas period which included frontline management, WHS and training and assessment. I was also excited to be accepted into an overseas field unit in my final year to study Himalayan ecology in Bhutan. That was such a wonderful opportunity and learning experience. Completing my degree and graduating was definitely my greatest personal achievement to date.” While Ms Berry was able to apply her newfound knowledge by writing copy for web and social media articles at LSA, she said her studies assisted in a much broader context. “Overall it’s been more of an understanding of different facets from a different aspect,” she said. “Understanding soil sciences and the way in which different components play a role in plant health and function. Like being able to look at soil test results and having an idea of what they mean; understanding the effects of salinity; knowing what soil ameliorants can do; being able to have some input into troubleshooting problems and helping customers to understand their lawn’s shortcomings. It’s one thing to tell a customer that their lawn has dry patches, it’s another to be able to explain to them about hydrophobicity and what a wetting agent will do exactly. I love it when I can explain to a customer what their lawn’s issues are and why, and knowing I have taught them something about it, and shared my knowledge. I’ve also been able to apply my studies by creating plans and policies

for present and future use, such as drought management planning.” Ms Berry said consumers were seeing the benefits of green space and therefore the turf industry had a “strong direction”, though a challenge was consumers’ desire for a great lawn with increasing lack of time to maintain it. “I think for this reason the lawn mowing contractors are gaining more importance for us and so providing them with guidance on the best techniques to look after each type of lawn will be more and more vital,” she said. “Too many still mow a lawn with a couch mentality; they need to be educated to specialise in the different lawn types, otherwise I fear lawns will be thrown in the too hard basket and replaced with alternatives.” Apart from consumer challenges, the turf industry veteran said environmental issues would soon need addressing and would lead to disruption in turf farming practices. “I think we’re nearing a time when we’ll have to start changing the way we do things, as to continue with what has always been done will no longer work,” she said. “Years of fertiliser application, pesticide and insecticide use, irrigating - they’re changing the composition of the soil and it’s only a matter of time before certain elements and minerals within the soil will begin to counteract what is being applied. We’ll have to work smarter, reduce in order to increase, look for alternatives. Furthermore, our climate is changing - it’s hotter and drier, and our seasons are no longer definitive enough to correctly trigger positive plant responses, which adds another challenge to the art of growing grass.”


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Summers can be brutal in Georgia, but they’re nothing compared to conditions in Australia, where high temperatures and arid conditions are challenging for any plant, whether turfgrass or crop. Brian Schwartz, UGA Cooperative Extension turfgrass breeder at UGA-Tifton, sent 18 different zoysiagrass varieties to the Lawn Solutions grower group to see how the Georgia-bred varieties fare in the land Down Under. “Just because they do well in the Southeastern United States doesn’t mean they’ll do well in Australia. A subset of Australian growers are going to have research plots in Australia to test for their environment, which there will probably be more drought than here,” Schwartz said. “The environment will be much different than Tifton, Georgia.” Schwartz has researched zoysiagrasses since starting at UGA-Tifton in 2009. Zoysiagrasses require less fertilizer and are

more drought-tolerant than the average turfgrass, a quality that could fare well in Australia’s hot and diverse climate.

“This is just a continuation of what’s been done here for the last 60 years. If the grasses that I’ve researched have success, not only here but in other places, maybe I’ll follow in the footsteps of Dr. (Glenn) Burton and Dr. (Wayne) Hanna,” Schwartz said. “That’s the neat thing about Tifton and our environment, which can present its challenges. Usually if the grasses are good here, they’re going to be good in a lot of places.”

If one of the 18 varieties being researched performs exceptionally well, Lawn Solutions Australia will likely ask UGA to release it as a variety. Though it might be suitable for Australia, Schwartz said that doesn’t necessarily mean it will also be released for Georgia. “There’s definitely a chance of failure, but there always is in what we do. Right now, they don’t have a clear winner for the Australian environment. They’re looking for the best of the best,” Schwartz said. “Most grasses don’t do well across the whole world. It’s very rare to find one that does and it’s pretty cool that some that have were developed right here in Tifton.”

The zoysiagrass varieties won’t be the first UGA grasses for the Aussies. TifTuf, a drought-resistant variety of Bermudagrass developed at the UGA-Tifton, already decorates the lawn outside the Sydney Opera House.

Schwartz estimates the research in Australia to span at least six to seven years, starting as small-plot research, then transitioning to larger areas as Lawn Solutions tests for speed of growth and harvestability.

This article originally appeared in the Spring 2019 issue of Southscapes, the alumni magazine of the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Words by Clint Thompson.


Dr Brian Scwartz addresses LSA members

LSA members at Campbelltown Stadium

GHG’S Michael Sutton with a TifTuf sample from the stadium


Ryan Cotter

Lawrence Stephenson

Jason Hodges

Joe Rogers

With a theme of ‘Innovation for the Future’, Lawn Solutions Australia (LSA) kicked off its outstanding two-day conference with a morning targeted at the future leaders of the turf industry. The day was proudly sponsored by the great team at Trimax Mowing Systems. LSA ambassador Jason Hodges opened the ‘Future Leaders’ program at Campbelltown Sports Stadium in front of about 60 ‘nextgeneration’ turf growers, with special thanks to Campbelltown City Council for providing access to the ground for the day. The ‘under-35’ (LSA) members received a few tips from Mr. Hodges regarding sales and marketing, while The University of Georgia’s Dr Brian Schwartz spoke about the future of turf over the next 20 years. Dr Schwartz said he generated about 5000 new grasses each year in search of the next top performing grass. “We’re looking for the needle in the haystack,” he said. The turf scientist talked about the advanced technology he and his team used in that pursuit, including artificial intelligence, machine learning and drones. “The future’s pretty bright for us,” he said. “We’ve got others [grass varieties] coming along if needed.”

Dr Schwartz said the takeaway message for the conference attendees was “working together to find the right grass for Australia. It’s just not possible with either group on their own.” Anco Turf General Manager Ryan Cotter and Twin View Turf’s Lawrence Stephenson spoke about their experience in taking over the reins of their families’ business, with LSA’s Joe Rogers finishing off the morning session. About 100 delegates turned out for the afternoon session to join Green Horticultural Group’s Michael Sutton, who spoke about the reshaping of Campbelltown Stadium and how TifTuf was performing. MusTurf’s Patrick Muscat followed Mr. Sutton and talked about the process of supplying the turf to refurbish the stadium. Andrew Doyle of Trimax then presented a mower demonstration on the sportsground, which was followed by Dr Brian Schwartz speaking to the larger group about TifTuf. Nick Dorney of AusGAP talked about AusGAP certification and ‘the benefits of genetic purity ’ to close out the day at Campbelltown Sports Stadium. During the evening, conference goers enjoyed a cruise around Sydney Harbour aboard the The Eclipse, proudly sponsored by Trimax Mowing Systems.


LSA Members enjoy the Trimax harbour cruise

Sydney Harbour

The view from Dockside, Darling Harbour

Industry Partner Stalls

DR BRIAN SCHWARTZ The University of Georgia Brian Schwartz is an Associate Professor of Turfgrass Breeding in the Department of Crop & Soil Sciences at the University of Georgia in Tifton. He earned his B.S. (Plant and Environmental Soil Sciences) and M.S. (Plant Breeding) degrees at Texas A&M University, and afterwards studied Turfgrass Breeding at the University of Florida where he received his Ph.D. in Agronomy. As well as speaking at the LSA Field Day, Dr Brian was also guest speaker as part of the LSA ‘Innovation for the Future’ conference day.


Sean Healy

Rob Carlton

Gavin Rogers

LSA Members

Tom O’Toole

Following registration for this year’s formal proceedings at Dockside Darling Harbour on Day 2, delegates viewed trade partner stands and were provided a valuable networking opportunity. Master of Ceremonies Rob Carlton introduced this year’s conference and while he entertained the 250-strong crowd at times with one-liners, asides and quips, he also spoke about the importance of networking and working as a team. LSA’s Gavin Rogers spoke about LSA’s beginnings and its current prospects. Mr. Rogers said that Sir Walter DNA Certified sales had broken all previous records for the 2018/19 financial year and named new markets for LSA turf that didn’t exist five years ago, including golf and sports turf markets. Mr. Rogers highlighted significant projects for the LSA group over the past 12 months, including Killara Golf Club, Sydney Opera House, , Catalina Country Club and Redcliffe Dolphins Stadium.


Carlos Sartoretto

Tim Arnold

Layne Beachley

LSA Awards Night

Carolyn Miller

LSA Awards Night

Mr. Rogers also spoke about LSA study tours, marketing initiatives, the future and challenges coming up, and professional skills development through the new AusGAP scholarships program. Speakers during the day included;


Sean Healy – Consultant in people dynamics

Tom O’Toole – Inspirational speaker and founder of the famous Beechworth Bakery

Carlos Sartoretto – Sports Turf Research Institute (STRI)

Tim Arnold – The Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA)

Carolyn Miller – Marketing and advertising strategist – Founding Director of ‘The Honeycomb Effect’

Layne Beachley AO – 8 x World Surfing Champion

Layne Beachley closed day with a revealing and captivating presentation about her life and rise to the top. Ms. Beachley spoke of her ‘3 steps to sustained success’ and told guests that ‘choice, not chance determines your destiny’. The 2019 LSA Conference was capped off with the annual LSA Awards Night proudly sponsored by Husqvarna Australia. These awards provide an opportunity to recognise the hard work and successes that LSA members have achieved throughout the past 12 months. A special award and induction to the LSA Hall of Fame was awarded to the late Bill Casimaty of Strathayr Instant Lawn. Mr. Casimaty was an incredible pioneer for the turf industry and has left a powerful legacy of innovation and determination, not just here in Australia but right across the world. (To read more about Mr. Casimaty’s life and career see page 22.)

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Profile for Lawn Solutions Australia

TurfTalk August 2019  

TurfTalk August 2019