Case Studies

Danes count pesticide applications

The Danish Government has introduced a system to restrict pesticide use on golf courses.

The pesticide allocation for greens may necessitate a change in grasses  

The move follows the breakdown of a voluntary agreement and comes in the form of a Statutory Order which came into force on 28 February 2013.  This was finalised after a 12-month research programme carried out by consultants who investigated the actual needs of golf courses.  The basic premise of the Order is that pesticides should be used in minimal amounts on golf courses and that any pesticide used has as little impact as possible on the environment and health.

The Order comes with definitions of who is responsible for managing the use of pesticides and what a golf course actually comprises.  The latter is broken down into six areas; green and foregreen, tee box, fairway, semi-rough, rough, natural areas and training areas.

Cultural measures must be the first line of attack to prevent disease, pest and weed damage

The Statutory Order has a point allocation system to restrict pesticide use on golf, with the aim of promoting the prevention of pests and diseases. For new construction and large conversions of the golf course, locating and designing the course will have to ensure as little need for the use of pesticides as possible. For established courses, cultural measures must be the first line of attack to prevent or minimise the damage caused by disease, insect attacks and weed growth. These include the choice of grasses, the type of fertiliser and the amount and timing of its application, watering, spiking, vertical cutting and topdressing, optimal mowing height and timing of mowing.

In terms of pesticide products, a pesticide impact value per hectare is calculated for all pesticides approved for use in Denmark, which gives a relative value for the degree of the environmental and health impact of the individual pesticide. When using pesticides on golf courses, the sum of the pesticide impacts for all six of the defined course areas must not exceed the impact ceilings outlined in the following table:

 

 

Course area

 

Pesticide group

Green

Tee box

Fairway

Semi-
rough

Rough

Natural areas

Total
load ceiling

Herbicides

0.04

0.11

0.15

0.08

0.04

0

0.42

Fungicides

1.14

0.15

0

0

0

0

1.29

Insecticides

15.94

15.94

7.95

3.97

3.98

0

47.81

Molluscicides

0.004

0.004

0.004

0.004

0.004

0

0.02

 Growth regulators  0 0

Total

17.124

16.204

8.104

4.054

4.024

0

49.54

 

Alternatives to using pesticides have to be investigated before a decision is made to use pesticides.  If the pests cannot be managed without using pesticides, the relevant pesticide with the lowest total impact on the environment and health must be used for local treatment.  The emphasis on ‘local’ clearly indicates that the points allocated to pesticides and their associated impact ceilings will not allow for blanket treatment to any area of the golf course.
Spot treatment is likely to be essential to meet impact ceilings
The Danish Environmental Protection Agency plans to reassess the levels of these impact ceilings a year after the Statutory Order comes into force and then at least every three years.  Every golf course will need to keep a detailed log of their use of pesticides and report their usage to the Danish Environmental Protection Agency each year.  They also have to make publicly available the overall statement of the pesticide consumption and pesticide impact of the course.  The Danish Environmental Protection Agency is going to publish all reports on pesticide consumption and impacts on its website at www.mst.dk.

Unless more severe punishment is incurred under other legislation, breaches of the Order will be subject to a fine and those taking legal responsibility may incur criminal liability.

The establishment of this Statutory Order shows that there is going to be no let-up in the pressure put upon land managers to reduce their inputs of chemicals in Denmark, and governments in other countries will be watching closely to see if such an approach provides adequate protection for the environment and health, whilst still enabling golf courses to produce surfaces fit for purpose which is an essential element for a sustainable golf facility business.